AMHERST, Mass. — Yes, that really was a Boston College hockey game those 6,452 saw at the Mullins Center.
Despite appearances, it was another Boston College victory, as well. In a game that featured 16 penalties and intense physical action along the boards and at mid-ice, the Eagles downed Massachusetts 5-2.
“We competed really hard,” Eagles coach Jerry York said. “We know we can go up and down the ice and make some plays, but you need to have a good balance, and tonight we really got our strength involved.”
BC improves to 16-3-4, with a 10-1-4 Hockey East record that keeps them atop the league standings. UMass, meanwhile, falls to 10-14-2, and 4-9-2 in Hockey East, putting the Minutemen in seventh place heading into the weekend.
Brian Boyle’s goal at the 4:46 mark of the second period was the game winner, but the weightier goal came at 17:42, off the stick of freshman Brian O’Hanley. Stationed close to the UMass net, O’Hanley redirected a shot from Greg Lauze past goaltender Gabe Winer, scoring his first collegiate goal and giving the Eagles a big momentum swing.
BC needed that swing because of a power play goal from UMass’ Kevin Jarman 6:08 earlier that caused the Mullins Center crowd to erupt as the Minutemen cut a two-goal Eagle lead in half.
O’Hanley’s goal may not have been the winning margin, but it changed the course of the game.
“I think all of (BC’s) goals came from little mistakes that we made tonight,” UMass captain Stephen Werner said. “I don’t want to say that goal took the life out of us, but it was definitely a big hit.”
The Minutemen never recovered, and couldn’t recharge their offense for the third period, even as the Eagles got a late goal from Matt Greene. Thanks to Greene’s tally with three minutes remaining, the Eagles saw all four of their offensive lines figure in on the scoring.
“We really need that as top-line guys,” junior Patrick Eaves said. “It really lifts us up.”
Eaves was the first line’s scoring representative, as Taylor Leahy gave him a quality feed from behind the net, allowing the winger to rip a wrist shot off the crossbar and in with 5:47 to go in the first period, giving the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
The Eagles also struck first, when Chris Collins one-timed a pass from Ryan Murphy at the 4:19 mark of the first. David Leaderer evened the score a few minutes later with a hard wrist shot on the power play that utilized an effective screen by Stephen Jacobs.
For all the promise of the early going, though, after O’Hanley’s goal the Minutemen struggled to maintain composure, and rarely tested Eagle goaltender Cory Schneider, who finished with 18 saves.
“In the second half of the game, we went from making good decisions and advancing the puck well, to making poor decisions and playing some pretty sloppy hockey,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said.