Eagles Stars Shine Brighter vs UMass

Chestnut Hill, MABoston College and Jack McBain picked up where they left off nine months ago when COVID-19 abruptly shutdown NCAA Ice Hockey. McBain’s two-goal night, coupled with 30 saves by goalie Spencer Knight powered the # 2 ranked Eagles past # 7 University of Massachusetts Minutemen 4-3 at Conte Forum. Michael Hardman and Matt Boldy (GWG) each added a tally to outpace the Minutemen. Freshman Josh Lopina scored two goals, just over a minute apart, in the late second period but it wasn’t enough to stave off the Eagles.

The Minutemen had two games last weekend against the University of Connecticut, going 1-0-1. Boston College on the other hand has had to make due with roughly 40 practices since September. The Eagles first slate of games were cancelled as a precaution due to possible corona exposure.

McBain, a Minnesota Wild draft pick, opened the scoring at 15:54 of the first when he wristed the puck over Matt Murray‘s right shoulder after taking a deft pass from Logan Hutsko in the slot.

Minutemen forward Carson Gicewicz was sent off for Slashing at 1:11 of the second period giving the Eagles a man advantage on fresh ice. However it was Massachusetts defenseman Zac Jones, himself a New York Rangers pick, that took advantage of the clean sheet when he raced into the Eagles zone and beat Knight far side with a short-handed snapshot at 1:52. Jones’ second goal of the season tied the game at 1-1.

That was to be a short-lived tie, as Hardman broke the deadlock with a backhander that found its way past Murray (28 saves) at 3:13. Boldy (Wild) and Hutsko (Florida Panthers) were credited with the assists.

McBain and the Eagles struck again at 12:41 when he hit the brakes at the top of the right circle, used defenseman Gianfranco Cassaro to screen Murray and let fly a wrist shot over Murray’s blocker-side shoulder.

Despite trailing 3-1 on the road, the Minutemen showed their resiliency. With Boldy in the box for Hooking at 14:21 the Minutemen power play finally made the Eagles pay. Lopina tipped a Colin Felix shot from the blue line past Knight cutting the deficit to 3-2 Eagles at 15:05.

Just one minute and thirteen seconds later Lopina banged home a rebound in front of Knight (Florida) tying the game shortly before the second intermission. Massachusetts forward Bobby Trivigno‘s forecheck led to the Minutemen pressure in the Eagles defensive zone. Oliver MacDonald and Trivigno had the assists on Lopina’s second of the night.

Boldy’s eventual game-winner came just 1:06 into the third period after a Colby Ambrosio  (Colorado Avalanche) pass from the Eagles goal line sent the sophomore in alone on Murray from the Massachusetts blue line. Boldy’s wrist shot beat Murray high glove side making it 4-3 Eagles.

UMass would threaten the Eagles for the remainder of the period. Two power plays for the Minutemen, Holding on Michael Karow (Arizona Coyotes) at 10:34 and High-Sticking on Hardman at 13:02, weren’t enough to pull this one back.

The Minutemen had two face-offs in the BC zone, with an extra attacker for the pulled Murray, during the final minute and change but were unable to even it up.

“Good college hockey game, two good teams,” said Minutemen coach Greg Carvel. “I thought we made some mistakes and BC had it in the back of our net pretty quickly. Poor coverage on some certain plays.”

“I was impressed that we fought back,” added Carvel. “Down two goals, and I thought in the third period we didn’t give up a lot. Except the two break downs by us. But it was a good game.”

“It’s been nine months since we played a game,” said BC coach Jerry York. “We were all rusty, coaches, players. It was just great to get back into the flow of a game.”

“It’s always neat to play, in your first game, a quality opponent,” said York. “I thought UMass, they’ve done an unbelievable job over the last few years fielding competitive teams, and tonight’s no exception. It was a great battle for us.”

The two teams face-off tomorrow, Saturday, at 4:30 pm at the Mullins Center on the Minutemen campus in Amherst.