CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The last time Massachusetts and Boston College met on Jan. 3, the Eagles jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. That night, BC was unable to put away the Minutemen, fell 3-2 and considered the game an opportunity lost.
On Friday night, the Eagles made sure history didn’t repeat itself.
After jumping out to an early lead, the sixth-ranked Eagles continued to pile on the goals, scoring five times in the first, twice in the second and finishing with two more in the third in a 9-0 rout of UMass to take a temporary lead atop the Hockey East standings. BC jumped two points ahead of both Maine and New Hampshire, which will face one another in a two-game set on Saturday and Sunday.
“UMass beat us early in January, and that has us kind of zeroed in on tonight,” said BC head coach Jerry York, who empathized with UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon when he remembered back to a shellacking his Bowling Green team took against Michigan State years back.
For Boston College, Friday’s game was a tuneup for the biggest night of the Eagles season: Monday’s Beanpot semifinal versus Northeastern. Anyone who was worried that BC would look past the Minutemen in anticipation of the Beanpot was emphatically proven wrong.
“It’s tough [not to look ahead],” said BC captain Ben Eaves, who scored a career-high six points (two goals and four assists). “There are a lot of mind games. You’re really excited to get to the Beanpot and play in that Monday night game.
“But [UMass-]Amherst came in here and beat us earlier in the month and we knew we had to play a real solid game.”
The Eagles took all suspense out of the game early, with its first-period five spot, finding goals in every way, shape and form.
In the frame, the Eagles scored a goal even strength, on the power, two shorthanded (on the same penalty, no less) and added a four-on-four tally in the final minute. BC actually racked up more goals in the period than the Minutemen had shots (three).
The Eagles opened the scoring early as Andrew Alberts shot from the left point resulted in a major league rebound off the pads of UMass starting goalie Michael Waidlich (nine saves). Justin Dziama had no problem pushing the rebound into the net with Waidlich out of position.
After BC’s Anthony D’Arpino was sent off for Elbowing at 12:35, the Eagles offense truly came alive.
Early in the Minuteman power play, Ryan Murphy was able to chip the puck past the Massachusetts defender and simultaneously tie him up, allowing Dave Spina and J.D. Forrest to break two-on-one. After Spina froze the defenseman and Waidlich, he fired a quick pass to Forrest who one-timed it into the empty net.
Less than a minute later, Eaves and Tony Voce replicated the play, with Voce feeding Eaves on the two-on-one. The assist was Voce’s 26th point of the season and 100th of his career.
“The whole key to the game were the shorthanded goals,” said York. “They basically broke everything open.”
Voce and Eaves, though, were far from done. The two would combine for a total of 11 points on the night, both reaching career highs.
At 16:06, the two combined with this time Voce finishing off the rebound of a Ryan Shannon one-timer that Eaves set up from behind the net for the 4-0 lead. It was the 50th career goal for Voce, becoming the 42nd Eagles to reach that plateau.
And before the period was over, Voce found Eaves on the doorstep for the junior captains 15th goal of the season and a 5-0 BC lead through one.
That spelled the end of the night for Waidlich, who was replaced to begin the second by Tim Warner (13 saves)
The Eagles added to the lead in the second with yet another power-play tally. John Adams set up rookie Chris Collins who roofed a shot over the left shoulder of Warner at 12:37 for a 6-0 lead.
If UMass had any hope of coming back, it wasted its chance with seven minutes remaining in the second. Both Dziama and D’Arpino were sent off giving the Minutemen a five-on-three advantage for two full minutes. But the BC penalty kill, which had killed off 27 off 28 penalties entering the game, held the Minutemen to just one shot.
And no surprise, less than two minutes after that kill, the Eagles scored a power-play goal of its own when Voce banged home the rebound of an Eaves shot at 16:47.
In the third period, rookie Stephen Gionta, younger brother of former Eagles captain Brian Gionta, scored his first two career goals, to account for the 9-0 final and the Eagles largest margin of victory since an identical 9-0 win over Army on Nov. 8, 1993.
“Stephen has been working hard all year, despite the fact that we call him Brian all the time,” said York. “So it’s nice to see him capitalize on a couple of goals.
“We don’t see many nights like this in Hockey East, but when the stars are aligned and the moon is aligned, things happen.”
Boston College goaltenders Matti Kaltiainen (10 saves) and Robbie Miller (four gaves) combined for the shutout. For Miller, a sophomore, it was his first action of his career.
“I asked [No. 2 goaltender] Tim Kelleher, and he said, ‘Put Robbie in,’” said York. “It was nice for him.”
Massachusetts failed to keep pace with Boston University for the final home ice spot. BU was a 5-0 winner on Thursday over Merrimack, but is idle for the remainder of the weekend. UMass, battling the flu bug throughout the team, will travel to Providence on Saturday night.
“We were as bad as [Boston College] was good,” said Cahoon about the loss. “I’ve been on both sides of these [types of game]. Hockey is a funny game, I guess that’s why you play it.”