CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Someone must have told the Boston College Eagles that their No. 1-in-the-nation status was being questioned that night.
Perhaps that same person questioned the skill of BC junior Pat Eaves, because he led the Eagles with two goals and one assist as they trounced Massachusetts, 6-0 in front of 5,308 at Conte Forum.
The Eagles improved to 17-3-4, with a 11-1-4 Hockey East record that put them atop the standings. The Minutemen, meanwhile, fell for the fourth time in five games, and are now 10-15-2 (4-10-2 Hockey East).
Eaves’ assist came on the game-winner, at the 16:28 mark of the first period. Cutting in from the left-wing corner, Eaves tried to wrap a shot around UMass netminder Tim Warner. Although the shot was poked loose, Dave Spina was on the spot to put the puck past a sprawling Warner.
That was the only goal of the first period, but it was just a prelude to what the Eagles had next.
Starting with a spectacular backhander by Eaves that slipped through a tiny window of open net over Warner’s shoulder, the Eagles opened up for four goals in the second period.
“Jeez, you just never see that,” BC coach Jerry York said. “That goal kind of shot me back on the bench, I mean, that’s roofing the puck on the backhand.”
Freshman Pat Gannon scored his first collegiate goal when he picked up a deflection off of Chris Collins’ shot from the point, and put it home with 10:19 to go in the middle frame.
Spina then returned Eaves’ favor 42 seconds later, slipping a pass back to Eaves on the point after the Eagles completed a textbook five-man passing drill. Eaves one-timed the feed over Warner’s shoulder to make it 4-0 with UMass’ Peter Trovato in the box for elbowing.
The Eagles weren’t done yet in the second, though, as Stephen Gionta scored a fluky goal, skating in on the right wing and firing a seemingly harmless shot at Warner. The goaltender was fooled somehow, and let the fifth goal of the night go by with six minutes left in the period.
After freshman Jamie Gilbert relieved Warner, who made 19 stops in 40 minutes of work, Brian Boyle added one more nail to the coffin, drawing Gilbert out of his net and scoring his 11th goal of the season at the 2:55 mark of the third to finish off the night.
The Eagles received another stellar night of goaltending, as Matti Kaltiainen did freshman Cory Schneider one better by stopping all 19 shots he saw. Schneider made 18 stops in the Eagles’ 5-2 win over UMass Thursday night in Amherst.
“Matti and Cory have been alternating games for us,” York said. “And their stats are [almost equal]. It gives us great depth. Matti has been pushed this year by Cory, and Cory pushing him has made him better.”
The Minutemen, who are in danger of falling into eighth place in Hockey East, struggled to do anything all night, rarely coming up with chances, and getting stifled by Kaltiainen when they did.
“We were fundamentally breaking down, and they put the puck away when we made mistakes,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “We make a breakdown, and they capitalize. They’re a good team, they have great puck skills.”
The biggest ovation of the night came for another goaltender, though, when senior Robbie Miller made his first appearance of the season, stopping three shots in the final 6:54 of the game.