Amherst, MA– Friday night’s duel between UMass and Boston College at Conte Forum was a classic matchup between two of Hockey East’s best teams. UMass got a needed win, though they felt they had stolen a game. The series moved to the Mullins Center for Saturday night where UMass appeared ready for a sweep before BC reminded all of their remarkable skill.
The Minutemen jumped out of the gate with a 14-2 shot and vantage through the first twelve minutes of the game. At the end of their onslaught, Mitchell Chaffee redirected a Jack Suter pass to the doorstep through Spencer Knight to put UMass ahead 1-0. Only two minutes and three seconds after UMass appeared poised for a runaway night, the Eagles’ special teams woke up. Colin Felix took a tripping minor and twelve seconds later, David Cotton tied the game off a Julius Mattila feed. BC kept up the attack and ended the frame with freshman Mike Hardman netting his fifth goal of the year for a 2-1 Eagles lead.
The second period was the worst of the night for the hosts. Marshall Warren cannoned a puck through the UMass defense to chase Filip Lindberg from the net after 3 goals allowed on 10 shots faced. Matt Murray didn’t fare much better. Ben Finkelstein extended the lead with a PPG following a Reed Lebester tripping minor four minutes after the swap. Marc Del Gaizo did clean up a loose puck at Knight’s doorstep to provide some hope of a UMass comeback. However, Matt Boldy answered with a beautiful transition goal for a 5-2 BC lead at the second intermission.
John Leonard flashed his scoring talent with his 15th goal of the season 50 seconds into the third period. The Amherst native is tied for third in collegiate goal scoring with Northeastern’s Tyler Madden and Minnesota State’s Marc Michaelis. Providence’s Tyce Thompson and Northern Michigan’s Griffin Loughran are tied for first with 17. Despite the early push, UMass didn’t have enough. Matthew Kessel took a cross-checking minor and Logan Hutsko scored the third BC power play goal of the night to close the scoring at 6-3 for an Eagle road win.
All in all, the BC power play went 3-5. Defenseman Ben Finkelstein recorded a goal and two assists for three points, all of which came on the power play.
The Minutemen drop to 13-5-0 (7-3-0 HEA). They sit in a three-way points tie for second place in Hockey East (15) with UMass Lowell and Northeastern.
Despite the loss, UMass Head Coach Greg Carvel was not dissatisfied with the effort.
“Strange weekend of hockey where I think last night we stole a victory. Tonight, if it wasn’t for their power play, I felt we were the better team. I thought 5on5 we skated very well. I thought Boston College took advantage of every mistake we made. Playing the last four games against Denver and BC; it’ll really help us moving forward. Things got exposed, our special teams primarily. We gotta make some strides on our special teams because right now, they’re really affecting outcomes.”
Matt Murray stopped 12 of 15 shots faced in relief.
UMass travels to Burlington for a series with the Vermont Catamounts next weekend. Puck drops at 7 pm on both Friday and Saturday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
BC improves to 14-7-1 (7-4-1). The Eagles are in Hockey East’s fourth place with 14 points, one back of the log jam at 2nd and two points back of first placed Providence.
Eagle Head Coach Jerry York “Very important game for our team, yet we started out so slow. It was really concerning from my view. But we have a goaltender. Otherwise, it could’ve easily been three or four to nothing. We weren’t playing with any moxie. I don’t remember what time in the period, but David Cotton, our Captain, gathered our team around and said ‘we’re gonna get buried here if we don’t get our minds right…’ Then all of a sudden he gets a goal right off the bat.”
Star goaltender Spencer Knight stopped 28 of 31 shots, including 18 of 19 in the first period.
BC plays two critical Hockey East games next weekend. On Friday, the Eagles travel to Lowell to face the Riverhawks. And on Saturday, they host ancient rival Boston University. Puck drops at 7 pm ET for the games at Tsongas Center and Conte Forum respectively.