AMHERST, Mass. — It’s usually not a good sign when a coach uses his timeout only 1:24 into the game. By that point, Boston College had already seized a 2-0 lead over UMass-Amherst and appeared poised for a blowout when the margin expanded to 3-0 later in the first period.
The Minutemen, however, regrouped, forging a 3-3 tie with two goals early in the third period to put themselves in a position for an upset or at least to steal a point in a contest that might have been written off as a loss.
For the remainder of the game, UMass held its own territorially only to fall when Jeff Giuliano scored his second of the game at 3:52 of overtime to earn the win for BC.
“You can’t play the way we played in the first period and expect that you have much of a chance to win a game against a team of that caliber,” said UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon. “But despite our inabilities in the first period, we managed to dig a little deeper and play a lot harder and get ourselves back into the game. I commend the kids for that.
“We unfortunately haven’t found a way to finish things off. Tonight, it would have been a good feeling to walk out of there with just a point knowing the way we started off. It would have been a step in the right direction.
“No moral victory. We have to move on.”
The frustrating loss leaves UMass-Amherst (7-13-0, 2-8-0 HEA) tied for last place with Merrimack, which now holds a game in hand. The Minutemen have now lost their last seven league games, all of which have been against opponents ranked in the Top 15.
The win extends the hot streak of Boston College (12-6-2, 5-4-1), which has posted a 10-2-1 record in its last 13 games.
“We got some quick goals, but give full credit to UMass for coming back so strong and making it a game because it could have gone the other way,” said BC coach Jerry York. “[Tim] Warner made some very good saves and energized them when it was 3-0. Then they came back and played very, very well.
“Then full credit to us after they’d [tied it]. We were able to generate some offense and score the goal in OT.”
The quick lead followed by a letdown had happened one week earlier to the Eagles in the Silverado Shootout Championship against Minnesota-Duluth.
“Out in Minnesota, the same thing happened to us,” said Giuliano. “We ended up winning, 5-1, but we got outshot, [28-6], in the second period. We’re a young team and we just want to learn from our mistakes.”
The contest was a rarity in two regards. First, referee Tim Benedetto did not whistle a single penalty in almost 64 minutes of play. Second, BC was facing a UMass club which had enjoyed two days of recuperation following a road trip to St. Cloud; the Eagles, by comparison, had traveled to Yale the previous day. Typically, league contests do not match one rested team against another playing back-to-back games.
That, however, didn’t hurt the Eagles in the early going. They opened the game controlling play as if they were on the power play. By just the 1:24 mark, they held a 2-0 lead, forcing Cahoon to call the earliest timeout in memory. By the end of the period, BC had expanded the lead to 3-0 while outattempting the Minutemen, 28-6, and outshooting them, 19-3.
Dave Spina opened the scoring exactly one minute into the game, beating Warner five-hole. Giuliano made it a 2-0 game just 24 seconds later when the UMass defenders allowed him to walk in from the right faceoff circle and beat Warner stick side.
The BC domination continued unabated despite Cahoon’s timeout, which he’d called to calm down his freshman netminder. At 16:58, Tony Voce extended the lead to 3-0. On an odd-man rush, Warner made the initial stop on an Ales Dolinar shot, but a trailing Voce put away the rebound.
A more evenly played second period included a BC 8-4 shot advantage, but the Minutemen tallied the only goal to convert what had appeared a blowout in the making into a 3-1 game. Tim Turner ripped a shot past Matti Kaltiainen, blocker-side high, off a faceoff won cleanly by Greg Mauldin. The goal at 7:33 came on only the fifth UMass shot as BC still held a 25-5 shot advantage.
Going into the third period, BC appeared to have the game still under control, having held UMass to only seven shots. The Minutemen, however, narrowed the gap to 3-2 at the 1:39 mark of the third period when Craig MacDonald redirected a Samuli Jalkanen shot from the right point.
“That really got us going,” said Turner. “We scored that goal and I looked at the bench and I saw guys heads come up. We knew that we were in the game. Obviously, when you bring it within one goal, then you just know that you’re going to be in the game and put up a fight.”
Two and a half minutes later, Turner completed the comeback, backhanding from the doorstep a centering pass by MacDonald, whose hard work along the back boards paid dividends.
Both sides had chances through the rest of the third period, but could not bury the game-winner.
With 3:20 remaining in overtime, Turner’s bid from the slot for the game-winner and a hat trick failed to test Kaltiainen when the puck went on edge.
Half a minute later, Giuliano converted off a cycling play, taking a pass from Dave Spina and quickly putting it past Warner.
Both teams return to action next weekend with home-and-home series, BC facing UMass-Lowell while UMass takes on Merrimack.