Eagles Down UMass In Game One

By Chris Marino, Assoc. Sports Editor

Tonight, the No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey team (26-10-1) defeated the Massachusetts Minutemen (13-17-5), 2-1, in the first game of a best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series at Kelley Rink. The Eagles were led by seniors Pat Mullane and Tommy Cross, who scored goals only 39 seconds apart from each other in the second frame.

“It’s a playoff type hockey,” said head coach Jerry York after the game. “The atmosphere—you could just feel the type of playoff intensity out of both teams. Not very often are you going to see so few penalties. The teams were both disciplined. [UMass] had one power play. We didn’t have any power plays. So, it was mostly five-on-five, no four-on-fours. It was a battle. Every shift was a battle out there.”

(Photo by Daniel Lee/Heights Editor)

The first period saw the Eagles dominate in the initial minutes. Close chances by Mullane, senior Paul Carey and sophomore Bill Arnold signaled for what looked like a potentially high-scoring night for the home squad. BC began the game with a 6-0 shot advantage before the UMass could put anything on net. However, a sudden power shortage cut the momentum for the Eagles, as the teams were forced to return to the locker room for nearly 20 minutes.

When play resumed, UMass seemed to have a new sense of energy, which resulted in more shots on net. Despite BC’s initial shot advantage, the team ended the period only up 10-7.

The second period included more urgency from the Eagles, yet the result was sloppy play and turnovers. Just as in the latter portion of the first period, puck control was an issue for BC. Fortunately, junior goaltender Parker Milner was on his game tonight. UMass put the pressure on him all period, but Milner was able to make several big stops to keep his team alive.

Just over a minute into the second frame, UMass’ Troy Power caused a turnover in the neutral zone, and broke away toward net by himself. Milner stopped the scoring opportunity with a solid pad save to his right. Later in the period, Milner was faced with a hard slap shot by Steven Guzzo, but he made the glove save to keep the game scoreless. Milner’s only lapse appeared to be a score for the Minutemen towards the middle of the period, however, the goal was called off, as it went into net off Guzzo’s skate.

Offensively, the Eagles seemed flat and unable to move the puck. UMass took an 18-10 shot advantage in the game, and seemed to be playing an extremely physical brand of hockey.

UMass’ tougher play did not appear to phase the team, according to Cross.

“It was nothing more than typical playoff hockey,” he said. “We’ve faced teams this year that certainly come after us very hard, and finish their checks, so we’re used to that. I didn’t really notice that they were doing anything beyond normal playoff hockey.”

Mullane echoed this sentiment when talking about the Minutemen’s style of play, and explained that the team is expecting this kind of play throughout the rest of the postseason.

“Every playoff game is amped up a little bit, especially on the first night,” he said. “Obviously on the first night you’re going to see a lot of contact. You’ll expect to see that all the way through the playoffs. Obviously, they’re a physical team. That’s the way they play, so we’ll expect to see that [Saturday] night as well.”

At the 17:46 mark, the Eagles responded to UMass’ play, as freshman Johnny Gaudreau took a pass off the faceoff, and fed it perfectly to Mullane in front of net. Mullane took the shot, which ricocheted off the ice in front of UMass goaltender Kevin Boyle and into the net.

Cross followed with a goal of his own at the 18:25 mark. He received a pass from Gaudreau once again, and took the shot from the circle, beating Boyle glove side for the score. Despite UMass holding an 11-3 shot advantage for the period, the Eagles were able to make their limited shots count, leading 2-0.

Both players applauded Gaudreau for his on-ice “vision” in setting up both scores for the Eagles. The two-goal shift was ultimately the difference maker in the contest, and Gaudreau was certainly the catalyst in the period’s momentum.

The third period saw a solid comeback effort from the Minutemen. With 13:05 left in the period, Michael Marcou took a hard shot from the point, which Danny Hobbs redirected for the score. After this, the Eagles locked down behind Milner’s solid play. The junior finished the night with 25 saves, including 11 in the middle frame.

Despite the win, York believes that his team must focus on keeping its offensive balance through the Minutemen’s physical play.

“They forechecked well all night long,” he said. “They really caused us to not have a lot of fluid rushes. The forecheck prevented us. We did have some two-on-ones, but we didn’t capitalize on them. Their forecheck was the strength of their game tonight.”

As the team prepares for the second game of the series, York says that this area of the matchup will be his team’s biggest adjustment.

“We just have to break the puck out cleaner,” he said. “We’re going to have to really concentrate on that. I thought that was the strength of their game tonight. We just have to combat that. They skate very well as a club, and they made us do a lot of things with their forecheck.”

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