A Week with the UMass Schools
By JD Biagioni:
Who: UMass Minutemen
Where: Conte Forum
When: Tuesday, January 23
Result: 2-1 BC
A small Tuesday night crowd gathered at Conte Forum to watch the Eagles take on the Minutemen of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for the first time this season. While the fans weren’t treated to many, if any, highlight-reel plays, they did see a gritty defensive effort that resulted in a 2-1 BC victory.
BC got on the board first at 12:17 of the initial frame. Minuteman Austin Plevy was whistled for slashing, and BC went to work on the power play. UMass did a good job of thwarting the initial Eagle attack, but BC was able to convert four seconds before Plevy was slated to exit the box. Christopher Brown quarterbacked the play and he fed Connor Moore at the right dot. Jesper Mattila broke free of the defense, received Moore’s pass, and finished past UMass, not Pittsburgh Penguin, netminder Matt Murray.
UMass struck early in the second on a power play to even the score at 1. Marco Bozzo led the breakout from behind the Minuteman goal. He flung the puck out to Brett Boeing, who flew threw the neutral zone and fired the puck at Joe Woll. Woll made the initial stop, but John Leonard hammered home the loose rebound.
Logan Hutsko struck ten minutes later with the eventual game-winner. A UMass breakout was thwarted by Hutsko. David Cotton joined the rush to create a two-on-one opportunity. Instead of making the usual cross-crease pass, Hutsko kept the puck and lifted one past Murray.
It wasn’t the most entertaining game, but for an Eagles team that currently sits on the Frozen Four bubble, a win is a win.
Number to know: 9 – BC is unbeaten in its last 9 games versus the Minuteman (8-0-1).
Who: UMass Lowell River Hawks
Where: Tsongas Center
When: Friday, January 26
Result: 3-2 UML
A furious comeback by the Eagles fell short at the Tsongas Center, as BC dropped the first half of a home-and-home to the River Hawks.
After a scoreless first, UML built a 2-0 lead in the second. BC killed off a Luke McInnis penalty in the early stages of the second frame, but Ryan Collins netted an even-strength goal just after the UML power-play expired. Mattias Goransson fed Colin O’Neill down low while Collins parked himself in front of the net. O’Neill eluded the BC defense and found Collins on the net for the easy tip-in.
UML extended the lead later in the second with a 2-on-1 transition breakout. Ryan Dmowski skated through the neutral zone. Flanked by Collins, Dmowski faked the cross ice pass and wristed one past Joe Woll.
For as uninspired as BC played in the first 40 minutes, the Eagles dominated play in the third. Two goals in just over the first five minutes by Graham McPhee, one on the power play and one in 5-on-5 play, evened the score at 2. A minute after McPhee’s second tally, a Chris Schutz wrist shot put UML back on top.
A frantic final two minutes saw BC hold a 14-second 6-on-4 advantage, but the Eagles weren’t able to convert.
Number to know: 100 – this marked the 100th game for captains Casey Fitzgerald and Christopher Brown.
Who: UMass Lowell River Hawks
Where: Conte Forum
When: Saturday, January 27
Result: 5-2 BC
BC needed a game like this. For a team that has struggled with consistency in the second half of the season, the Eagles were finally able to turn in a dominant performance. It wasn’t a full 60-minute effort by BC, but after going up 5-0 through 2, it didn’t have to be.
David Cotton scored the first and only goal of the first period midway through a BC power play. The Eagles’ strong cycle resulted in Logan Hutsko holding the puck by the corner boards. Cotton freed himself at the dot and fired home the one-timer.
UML’s Tyler Mueller was whistled for slashing at the close of the first. With 12 seconds remaining on the power play, the Eagles converted for a second goal at 1:48 of the second. Connor Moore took part in a nifty give-and-go play with Jesper Mattila before he ripped the puck top shelf past Tyler Wall.
Later in the second, Graham McPhee added to the BC lead. Jesper Mattila broke up the UML rush and swatted the puck to Chris Brown in the neutral zone. McPhee found a way to both stay onside and get ahead of the River Hawk defensemen. He accepted Brown’s pass and snapped one through Wall’s five-hole.
BC firmly asserted itself with a fourth goal right off the face-off following the third goal. Michael Karow and Casey Fitzgerald controlled the face-off and JD Dudek set himself up in a similar position to McPhee. He got the puck and went backhand for the 4-0 lead.
BC tacked on a fifth goal, this time by Jacob Tortora, at 11:10 of the second, on a set offensive zone face-off play. BC then became content to play on the defensive for the final 20+ minutes. Early in the third UML got a two minute 5-on-3 advantage and a 3 minute power play to follow, after Tortora got a game misconduct for boarding. The River Hawks got one back, and they netted an even-strength goal minutes later, but BC had already built a strong enough lead.
Number to know: 4 – this game marked the first time in almost two years that BC scored 4 goals in one period (last was 2/12/2016 vs. Merrimack)