CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Boston College defenseman Bobby Allen pick a perfect time to join the century club. The senior defenseman notched his 100th career point, scoring a power-play goal with 13:15 remaining, as the No. 2-ranked Eagles edged UMass-Lowell, 4-3, Friday night at the Conte Forum.
The goal came on the seventh of eight power plays on the night for the Eagles. After taking a pass from Ben Eaves, Allen fired a shot through heavy traffic in front of UMass-Lowell goaltender Jimi St. John. The seeing-eye shot found the corner of the net to give the Eagles a 4-3 lead.
“I thought it was an excellent power play that gave us the game-winner,” said BC coach Jerry York. “But then we had to hold on [to get the win].”
Said Allen about his goal: “J.D. [Forrest] made a great play along the side boards to get me the puck. I’d been getting the puck on net all night and [this time] it seemed like the puck had eyes and got just inside the post. It was a big goal for the club.
“There was a lot of traffic in front. That was something our forwards were doing well all night. But it was good for me because they haven’t been going in too easy for me this year.”
The third-period goal completed a comeback for the Eagles, down 3-2 late in the second period. It also spoiled a spectacular 36-save performance by St. John, who made numerous point-blank saves in the first two periods to keep the game close.
After Allen’s goal, though, everything wasn’t fun and games until the end for Boston College. Thanks to a Brooks Orpik penalty with 1:40 remaining, Lowell’s power play went to work for the eighth time (1-for-8) in the closing minutes, peppering BC goaltender Scott Clemmensen (27 saves).
The pressure was culminated by senior Brad Rooney getting behind the Eagles defense with three seconds remaining, forcing Clemmensen to make one final save before the closing buzzer.
“That was an outstanding play by [Clemmensen on Rooney],” said York. “He kind of shut [Rooney] down as he came across the crease. I’d like to see that on tape because I don’t see how he got it.”
“We showed some good poise offensively all night,” said Lowell coach Tim Whitehead. “I thought on the last play with three seconds left, Rooney was just in too tight to Clemmensen. [Rooney] tried to go up top, but Clemmensen was on top of it.”
BC’s Brian Gionta, who last week was named USCHO Offensive Player of the Week for his five-goal-on-five-shot performance in the first period against Maine, notched his 113th career goal, surpassing BC’s David Emma as the all-time leading Eagles’ goal scorer.
Gionta’s goal started the night right for BC and started right where he left off last Saturday. Just 25 seconds into the game, the senior captain notched his milestone goal blasting a shot from the right hand faceoff dot off the post and past St. John for the 1-0 lead.
Said Whitehead: “I thought the first goal [for BC] ended up being the game-winner essentially. I think after the first five minutes, we played pretty aware defensively.”
Though BC dominated the period, outshooting Lowell, 17-8, the River Hawks hung in, and late in the period, had a golden opportunity to tie. When BC’s Brett Peterson and Mike Lephart were sent off for minors 54 seconds apart, Lowell had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:06. But the Eagles’ penalty kill held Lowell to just one shot in the 66 seconds, keeping the BC lead at 1-0 through one.
In the second period, the contest turned into a two-sided, wild, run-and-gun showdown. Lowell was the first to strike, when Kyle Kidney notched his fourth goal in three games, scoring on a breakaway. Yorick Treille set up the power-play goal with a home run pass from the defensive zone that Kidney buried between Clemmensen’s pads.
The River Hawks stunned the sellout crowd of 7,770 in attendance when Jeff Boulanger buried his third goal of the year 82 seconds later at 3:26. After a BC turnover, Peter Hay fed Boulanger for the clean break, allowing the senior to roof a shot over a fallen Clemmensen.
But when both referee Tim Benedetto and assistant referee Bob Bernard whistled separate holding penalties on the River Hawks simultaneously, the Eagles had the golden opportunity to even the game. Or did they?
With the five-on-three advantage, the Eagles surrendered a breakaway to Lowell’s Ron Hainsey. His shot beat Clemmensen cleanly but smacked the left post. BC then took advantage. Chuck Kobesew’s made a heads-up play in front of St. John, kicking the puck to a wide-open Eaves for the tying goal at 11:00.
But Lowell answered 1:38 later when another careless defensive play for the Eagles led to Ed McGrane being alone with Clemmensen. Similar to Boulanger, McGrane pushed a backhander over the shoulder of Clemmensen to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead.
Before the frame ended, BC scored the tying goal. On a play that appeared to be offside, Jeff Giuliano was sent in alone, beating St. John inside the right post.
The third period, though filled with opportunities for both clubs, was chippy to say the least. As part of the rough stuff, Lowell’s top rookie, Laurent Meunier, received a major penalty and game disqualification with 11.1 seconds remaining for punching Gionta in the face. The penalties will translate into an automatic one-game suspension for Meunier in Saturday night’s game.
On Saturday night, Lowell will face UMass-Amherst in the final game of the Alumni Cup series. At stake besides bragging rights will minimally be seventh place in Hockey East. After Friday’s games, Lowell and Amherst remained deadlocked with 13 points.
The two clubs have split the season series to date, with each team winning on the other’s home ice. Saturday’s contest will be played at Lowell.
BC will remain idle until Monday night, when it faces Harvard in the first game of the 2001 Beanpot tournament. BC will be the clear favorite in the annual tournament, looking for its first Beanpot win since 1994.