AMHERST, Mass. — The Boston College Eagles rebounded from Wednesday’s tie with New Hampshire — in which the Wildcats came back from 2-0 to tie the game — to down the Massachusetts Minutemen at the Mullins Center, 4-1, in front of the largest crowd to watch a UMass hockey game in the school’s history.
John Adams scored twice for BC (6-2-2, 3-0-1 Hockey East), including the game winner in the second period, sending most of the crowd of 7,113 home disappointed. Adams was fed in the slot by Brian Boyle, made a quick maneuver, and slipped a wrist shot through traffic to make it 2-1. Adams also opened the scoring with a nifty deke to beat UMass goaltender Gabe Winer off a Ryan Murphy feed at 10:21 of the first period.
“John is adding a lot to our offense this year,” BC coach Jerry York said. “It’s his third year with us, and he’s starting to play much better, getting a lot of shots, like he did tonight.”
While the game played mostly even, the Eagles held a clear physical advantage, and other than a few scoring chances, the Minutemen (7-2-0, 4-2-0) were kept away from BC goalie Matti Kaltiainen. UMass managed just 15 shots, by far the fewest the Minutemen have had this season.
“We played very good team defense,” York said. “I can’t remember much of a flurry with our goaltender. There were a couple of 5-on-3s, a 6-on-4 with the five-minute major, so we were pretty tenacious defensively. Teams have a lot of trouble getting 25 shots on our net, and that’s because of our tenacious defense.”
The major came at the end of the third period, when Tony Voce was sent off for hitting after the whistle at 15:13, and then nailed with a game misconduct for an undetermined infraction. The Eagles held off the UMass power play, which lasted until the final buzzer. It capped off a very physical game, with six penalties called in the first period.
The BC win, coupled with UNH’s 7-4 loss to Providence, puts the Eagles in a tie with the Wildcats for second place in Hockey East. The Minutemen, meanwhile, retain their grip on first, but now have two teams within a point of them.
UMass coach Don Cahoon, meanwhile, found a bright side in the Minutemen’s loss, their first since being manhandled by Providence on Halloween.
“I was really pleased with how well we played away from the puck, one of the best games we’ve played in that area all year. At the same time we really struggled with the puck, didn’t make the plays with the puck that we need to make, and obviously that showed up on special teams and in initial rushes.
“BC might have something to do with that, their quickness and their ability to neutralize you, but at the same time we’ve got to do a better job protecting it and making plays when we have the opportunity to,” Cahoon said.
After more than 13 scoreless minutes following Adams’ first goal, the Minutemen got on the board in the second period, when Thomas Pck took a cross from James Solon at his own blue line, skated to the opposite blue, and ripped a slapshot that beat Kaltiainen over his left shoulder, tying the game at one.
BC came right back, though, with Adams’ second and never looked back.
Boyle followed up with a goal of his own, when Ben Eaves’ odd-angle slapper squeaked through Winer, and stalled in the crease at Boyle’s feet. The freshman stuffed his third goal of the season home to increase the Eagles’ lead to two.
The Eagles opened up the scoring at 10:21 of the first period. Chris Collins scaled the right-wing boards with BC’s Andrew Alberts and UMass’ Stephen Werner in the box on separate penalties. Collins fired a centering pass from the outside hash mark to John Adams, who faked once to draw Winer out of position. Adams put a slick move on the goaltender, and slipped the puck into the gaping net to make it 1-0.
The teams traded shots after that, but neither side could find a goal.
“I thought Boston College played a really good road game, and considering they played on Wednesday night, the kids are resilient and in great shape,” Cahoon said. I don’t think the energy factor’s a huge factor, but the fact that they could come back and play as smart as they did on the road is a credit to them.”
The Minutemen travel to Providence Saturday night for their third and final regular-season meeting with the Friars at Schneider Arena. BC will enjoy a break this weekend, before returning to action on Tuesday against Merrimack.