CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — A freak pre-winter snow storm in the Northeast turned the Massachusetts Minutemen’s 90-minute trip into Boston for a game against #6 Boston College into a four-hour bus ride down I-90.
In the end, they’d wished they’d stayed home.
With the Eagles offense clicking on every cylinder, the legless Minutemen were never in the game as BC skated to an easy 7-0 win.
“We were on our heels all night and [BC] was on their toes,” said UMass head coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon. “Emotionally we sold ourselves out early and that ended up being the difference in the game.”
Indeed the Minutemen were dead early, surrendering three first period goals, then allowing two more in both the second and third.
Chris Collins and Nathan Gerbe paced the Eagles offense. Collins scored a hat trick and posted a career-high four points. Gerbe added two goals of his own, while Cory Schneider posted his second shutout in four games making 21 saves.
“We were very quick from the start,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “I think that kind of set the tone.”
“It’s our focus every game [to get a fast start],” said Collins. “Especially in games like this where it’s kind of a dull building and [UMass] is coming off a long ride. With us jumping down their throat right away it gave them no room to breathe at all.”
It was evident that the four-hour bus ride took its toll on the Minutemen who did little to sustain any attack in the first. The Eagles struck three times in the period, once on the power play, once at even strength and once shorthanded to take a 3-0 lead into the intermission.
Collins got BC on the board at 7:19 when he banked a shot off UMass goaltender Gabe Winer’s (27 saves) left leg and in. Collins said it was a good sign that he was able to get a bounce early.
“The first [goal] was really important for me because in the last two games, the pucks haven’t gone in for me,” said Collins. “To be able to keep it going this time was pretty good.”
Andrew Orpik added to the lead with his first collegiate goal at 15:02. Skating two-on-one with linemate Joe Rooney, Orpik chose to shoot and fired a laser off the right hand goal post and into the net.
At 17:40, this time shorthanded, BC struck again. Gerbe’s end-to-end rush allowed him to skate around a defender and fire a shot against the grain, finding room inside the right post for a 3-0 Eagles lead.
In the second, little improved for the Minutemen. BC shots continued to find the back of the net, and each time that UMass had a scoring chance they ran into the brick wall of Schneider.
BC walked away with two goals in the period as Gerbe and Collins each scored their second of the game. Both goals were sniper shots with the pucks ringing off the goalpost before going in.
UMass, on the other hand, walked away with nothing but frustration. Twice the Minutemen had point blank chances at wide open nets, with Schneider robbing Stephen Werner with a right toe save in the opening minute and then stealing a goal from Scott Crowder with a remarkable glove save in the period’s final minute.
“[Schneider was kind of upset with his play in the third period [of a 6-2 loss last Saturday] at Boston University,” said York. “He didn’t feel that he was very sharp there. I thought he rebounded very well tonight.”
In the third, with Jon Quick (seven saves) now in net for the Minutemen, the BC power play continued to have success. Benn Ferriero poked home a loose rebound at 4:16 for his second goal of the season and the club’s third power play tally of the game.
BC finished the game 3-for-8 with the man advantage, while the Minutemen were 0-for-7.
With 5:30 remaining Collins completed his hat trick, banging home the rebound of a Ferriero shot. It’s the first career hat trick for Collins who, with 12 goals, has already registered a career-high for goals in a season.
Collins finished the night with four points total, also a career high.
These two clubs will battle once again on Saturday night when Boston College heads to Amherst for a 7:00 faceoff. Cahoon was clear that if his club continued to play the way they did on Friday, little would change in way of results.
Stealing a line from Mickey Rivers, Cahoon summed up what needs to be changed.
“We need a whole new everything,” said Cahoon.