Amherst, MA – The back half of this weekend’s home and home series between Boston University and the University of Massachusetts wasn’t as fast paced and exciting as the game at Agganis Arena on Friday. However, the 5,583 on hand at the Mullins Center were treated to a classic, chippy, gritty Hockey East battle that culminated with Minutemen captain Mitchell Chaffee’s two goal performance powering the defending regular season Hockey East champs to a 4-1 victory.
The Minutemen controlled play throughout the first period. An Interference call on BU’s Alex Brink just 1:29 in had Massachusetts testing last night’s hero, Sam Tucker right off the bat. A Zac Jones slapshot from the blue line was turned away by Tucker.
The action didn’t liven up until 14:06 when the Terriers threatened. David Farrance sent a slap pass from the blue line to the outstretched stick of Trevor Zegras at the far post. The redirect was shouldered away by Filip Lindberg in the UMass goal.
Then things kicked off after Bobby Trivigno elbowed Tucker in the BU crease just as the whistle blew on a Tucker save. Forward Jamie Armstrong took exception to Trivigno’s actions and Matthew Kessel stepped in for the Minutemen. Armstrong and Kessel were assessed matching Roughing minors at 15:40.
John Leonard was attempting to penetrate the Terrier zone and drew a Slashing call on Zegras. With the Minutemen on the delayed penalty and putting pressure on Tucker, BU defenseman Alex Vlasic would earn a High-Sticking penalty at 17:46.
The resulting five on three for the Minutemen would see Tucker peppered with shots. At 18:50 Chaffee snapped a shot past Tucker from the left face-off dot giving the Minutemen a 1-0 lead. The power play goal was assisted by Jones and Colin Felix.
The Minutemen would negate the remaining penalty when they were called for Too Many Men on the Ice at 19:50. UMass outshot BU 19-8 for the first period.
BU opened the second on the carried over power play but it was UMass that had scoring chances right off the drop. Oliver Chau was in on a mini breakaway off of the puck drop but Tucker made the stop.
UMass’ Jack Suter would be called for Interference when he backed into Tucker in the BU crease at 3:01. Minutemen forward Philip Lagunov stole the puck from BU’s Farrance in the neutral zone and was in on Tucker for the shorthanded breakaway. Farrance ended up drawing a Slashing penalty on his effort to stop Lagunov. During the resulting four on four the Minutemen’s Jones set Reed Lebster up out front but again Tucker was there to keep the puck out of the goal.
At 8:42 Farrance carried the puck into the UMass zone, hit the brakes and fired a pass cross ice to defensive partner Cam Crotty as he entered the zone. Crotty snapped off a shot that Lindberg initially stopped but the rebound took a funny bounce over his shoulder and into the net tying the game at 1-1.
Just seconds later BU’s Armstrong would draw a Five Minute Major and Game Misconduct for Hitting From Behind. The Resulting five minute power play by UMass was poorly executed by the Minutemen, or defended well by BU depending on your view point.
An Interference call on BU’s Markus Boguslavsky at 16:42 gave the home team another man advantage, but again the Minutemen were unable to muster much opportunity. After two periods UMass continued to outshoot BU 29-11 (10-3 period).
The third period was a dull affair both on the ice and in the stands. The once raucous UMass crowd had mellowed after a few hours. The period didn’t start to liven up until roughly 7:30 in when Tucker went to stop the puck behind the BU net, the puck caromed over his stick and bounced out front to UMass’ Jeremy Davidson. Tucker made a frantic diving stop on Davidson’s unexpected bid. That got the crowd back into the game.
BU used their timeout at 8:14. Shortly after, Zegras had a nice chance alone in front of Lindberg but the sophomore goalie made a pad stop on the talented freshman.
Chaffee struck again at the midway point of the period when he batted down a BU clearing attempt at the Terrier blue line, flubbed a shot attempt then regained control of and fired the puck past Tucker for the 2-1 Minutemen lead at 10:12.
The Minutemen kept on firing as the Terriers game slowly ground down. Chaffee had a one-timer bid from the high-slot sticked away by Tucker, then Suter had a nifty chance saved by Tucker.
At 15:24 freshman defenseman Kessel’s hustle play payed off when he carried the puck into the corner of the BU zone, passed to Chau behind the net, Chau centered a pass in front of Tucker that BU’s Jake Wise corralled on his stick. Kessel raced in from the corner, stole the puck off of Wise’s blade and backhanded it over Tucker’s shoulder for the commanding 3-1 UMass lead.
Sophomore defenseman Felix notched an empty net goal, his first of the year, to close this one out at 18:22. The Minutemen finished the night with 40 shots on goal to BU’s 17, while carrying the face-off battle 35-26.
Afterwards BU coach Albie O’Connell was short but succinct in his thoughts on the game. “Tie game going into the third period,” said O’Connell. “UMass played very well in the third, we ran out of gas.” O’Connell factored in the nine penalties that BU were assessed as well. “We ran out of gas. We can’t kill penalties all game. We were tired.”
“Very happy with our team’s performance this weekend,” said Minutemen coach Greg Carvel. “We took, as a team we took a big step forward playing a skilled BU team in two games dominantly outshooting them (92-39). Tonight for the first time we were the team that got a lot more power plays than the other team which is a good sign. Third period, again, just like last night, we were really strong, had the puck in the offensive zone created and then prevented defensively we played well. The only thing we need to work on is getting the power play going and we’ll have Marc Del Gaizo back next week so that will hopefully address that situation.” Sophomore defenseman Del Gaizo is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and has yet to play this season.
The Terriers host Vermont at Agganis Arena next weekend. A 7:30 pm puck drop on Friday and a 4:00 pm matinee for Saturday. The Minutemen will be facing Merrimack in another home and home series. Friday will be at the Mullins Center for 7:00 pm while Saturday’s tilt will be at Merrimack’s Lawler Arena also at 7:00 pm.