Chestnut Hill, MA — The Boston College Eagles and UMass Lowell Riverhawks have symbolized Hockey East this season. They are talented teams with lofty expectations that have been all over the place. Both still have strong positions in the Hockey East standings and both have reasonable hopes for postseason success.
On Friday night, they opened their season series with a 3-2 Lowell victory at the Tsongas Center. On Saturday night, the Eagles and Riverhawks rematched at Conte Forum. BC earned the split in dominating fashion.
BC controlled the pace of play in the opener, outshooting Lowell 7-3 in the first half of the period and 12-9 for the frame. Embattled Lowell goaltender Tyler Wall held firm and made some excellent saves on Connor Moore and David Cotton.
Unfortunately for Wall, his offense didn’t get much on BC goalie Joseph Woll and got nothing by him. Additionally, Ryan Dmowski committed two penalties. The first one, an early hooking call, did not result in a score. The second, a late tripping penalty, did. With 1:21 left in the first, David Cotton potted a goal from the left circle. BC took a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
The wheels completely fell off for UMass Lowell in the first half of the second period. Right before the break, Tyler Mueller was called for a slashing penalty. On the power play, Connor Moore fired a one-timer from the left circle to give BC a 2-0 lead. Then the Eagles exploded. 7:36 into the period, Graham McPhee scored a transition goal.
Sixteen seconds later, JD Dudek sliced through the Lowell defense and made the game 4-0. Tyler Wall was pulled and replaced by Christoffer Hernberg. He didn’t fare much better, as only 3:18 into his stint, Jacob Tortora controlled a rebound for a 5-0 Eagles lead. BC scored five goals in 12:31 of play and sank Lowell in the second period.
While mostly decided, the third period still had plenty to talk about. 1:08 into the final stanza, Charlie Levesque tracked a puck into the end boards. He was hooked by Luke MacInnis and then decked head first into the boards by Jacob Tortora.
The officials called MacInnis for a minor and Tortora for a misconduct, sending him to the dressing room early. On the ensuing five-minute power play, Levesque fired a wrister by Woll to get Lowell on the scoreboard. As the major expired, Lowell moved the puck perfectly to get Tommy Panico a shot and a goal to cut the lead to 5-2. Unfortunately, Lowell didn’t get any more goals on the board and fell 5-2 against BC.
Head Coach Norm Bazin was not happy after the game.
“That was a game played in segments. I did not like the overall effort we put out there. I pulled Tyler (Wall) as a mercy, not a punishment. He was strong in the first period. The goals that got by him were legitimate goals. The team in front of him wasn’t very good tonight.”
— BC Hockey (@BCHockey) January 28, 2018
With the loss, Lowell drops to 15-12-0 overall and 10-8-0 in Hockey East. They remain in a tie with Boston University for fourth in the conference. The Riverhawks do not return to action until Tuesday, February 6th, when they host the Yellow Jackets of American International College. Puck drops at 7 pm at the Tsongas Center.
Eagles Head Coach Jerry York was pleased with his team’s performance.
“We’re trying to turn toward the tournament stretch of our season now, with the back to back games. It was a good test for us tonight. We were a touch better than they were tonight. We did some really good things tonight.”
BC climbs to 13-10-3 overall and 13-5-0 in Hockey East. With the win and Northeastern losing to Providence, the Eagles claim first place in Hockey East. They only lead the Huskies by two points in the standings. BC returns to the ice on Friday, February 2nd with a road trip to face the UConn Huskies. Puck drops at the XL Center at 7 pm.