CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Boston College goaltender Cory Schneider earned his 13th career shutout on Thursday night, tying Scott Clemmensen for the all-time Boston College record.
Arguably, Thursday’s 3-0 blanking of Massachusetts-Lowell was his easiest of the baker’s dozen, as Schneider faced a River Hawks team whose coach Blaise MacDonald said was comprised of “too many passengers.”
The Eagles defense allowed just 16 shots on the night, eight of which came in the third period when Lowell was the beneficiary of four power plays. BC’s defense killed all seven man-advantage opportunities in the game to help Schneider tie the shutout mark.
“We’re on a good ride,” said BC coach Jerry York, whose club has won seven of its last nine games since ending a season-high three-game losing streak on January 26. “Our special teams have improved and Cory’s played as well as he’s played all year. That’s a pretty good combination this time of year.”
Offensively, BC got all it needed in the opening minutes of play. Benn Ferriero buried a feed from Dan Bertram at 1:52 of the first, catching Lowell netminder Nevin Hamilton (18 saves) off-balance as the puck squeaked through the five-hole for the Eagles lead.
The perfect pass that set up the goal might have been the final tape-to-tape pass of the period as sloppy hockey dominated for the remainder of the frame. BC finished the period with 10 shots to Lowell’s four.
Neither club would score again until late in the second when BC cracked through on the power play. Brett Motherwell’s blast from the blue line was saved by Hamilton, but the rebound landed right on the tape of Nathan Gerbe, who fired his 18th goal of the year high into the net at 14:41 for the 2-0 Eagles lead.
Lowell might have hoped to catch lightning in a bottle in the third, but a Ferriero goal just 1:12 in virtually sealed the River Hawks’ fate. The sophomore winger snapped off a pass after Joe Rooney faked a move behind the net and slid a quick pass out front, catching Hamilton off guard as Ferriero slid the shot just inside the far post for the 2-0 advantage.
The River Hawks were handed some late opportunities, namely three BC penalties in the final 8:35 of play. But BC’s defense, Schneider’s play and a little help from the right post — when Barry Goers blasted a wrister from the point with 5:39 remaining — sealed the fourth donut of the season for the junior netminder.
“We got into some penalty trouble there at the end and if you give any team enough chances on the power play, they’re going to start creating,” said Schneider. “I thought the penalty killers beared down and I had to make a couple of save, so it was a good combined effort.”
The win put BC five points ahead of fourth-place Vermont and six points ahead of fifth-place Maine in the battle for playoff home ice. A win on Saturday night at Lowell will clinch home ice for the Eagles in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.
Lowell’s hopes of making the playoffs grew dimmer Thursday. The River Hawks, currently tied with Providence for eighth place, will need to move ahead of the Friars, who own the tiebreaker between the two teams, before season’s end.
All of which makes Thursday’s uninspired performance befuddling to MacDonald.
“Our number-one goal was to come in here and move our feet and work hard. Those are the things you can control,” said MacDonald. “We had guys, some of our upperclassmen, who were playing excellent hockey, play some of their worst games of their careers.”