LOWELL, Mass. — Brock Bradford scored two power play goals and Boston College rode the outstanding goaltending of Cory Schneider, as the No. 11 Eagles held on to defeat UMass Lowell, 4-3, at Tsongas Arena.
Bradford scored his 11th goal of the season in the second period as Boston College enjoyed a two-man advantage, and later in the period he connected for number 12, again with BC on the power play. Each goal came from almost the exact same spot, just outside the right post.
Schneider finished with 27 saves on the night, including 15 in the second period, as the junior from Marblehead, MA came up big with some huge, game-saving stops in the third period.
Senior Brian Boyle also added two assists for the Eagles.
After a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in overtime February 12th in the Beanpot tournament championship game against arch rival Boston University, the Eagles have now won four games in a row to improve to 20-11-1 (16-8-1 Hockey East).
UMass Lowell, which saw its own five-game unbeaten streak come to an end Thursday at Conte Forum, 3-0, dropped to 7-21-6 overall, 6-16-3 in Hockey East.
The River Hawks’ playoff hopes dimmed as well. Coming in to the game tied with Providence for the eighth and final playoff spot in Hockey East with 15 points, Lowell dropped down to ninth by virtue of the Friars’ stunning 7-1 victory over conference-leading New Hampshire on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Boston College continued to creep up in the standings. With Boston University losing at home to Vermont, 3-2, BC now sits just one point behind the Terriers for second place.
“It’s what we expected. Lowell has been a very competitive team all year. We got what we expected-a hard, physical game.
“It was a hard-fought, tough win for us. We clinched home ice with the win, which was certainly one of our goals this year,” said Boston College coach Jerry York.
The game was indeed physical, with both teams getting whistled for 14 minutes of penalties.
Just minutes after Nathan Gerbe hit the post for BC in the opening period, Ben Holmstrom continued his solid freshman campaign by taking a great pass in front of Schneider from classmate Nick Schaus for his 4th goal of the season to give the River Hawks a 1-0 lead.
But later, with Lowell trying to clear the puck out of its own end, Matt Greene picked off a loose puck on the doorstep and roofed a shot up under the crossbar to tie things up at the end of the 1st period, 1-1.
The second period was all Boston College, at least as far as the scoreboard was concerned.
Despite being outshot 16-10 for the period, BC scored three goals in the period-Bradford’s two power play tallies, sandwiched around Brian O’Hanley’s second goal of the season.
Bradford faked pass on his first goal, sending the puck past stunned Lowell goalie Nevin Hamilton. He would score his second goal from almost the exact same spot, chasing Hamilton as Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald inserted Carter Hamilton in net after Bradford’s second of the night made it 4-1.
Lowell got a late goal from Mark Roebothan (his sixth of the year), though, to give the River Hawks life. Schneider was forced to make two big saves at the end of the period, first stoning Kory Falite, then robbing Mike Potacco.
When Falite scored just 25 seconds into the third period on the power play to bring the River Hawks within a goal at 4-3, the crowd of 6,358 was on its feet, especially just minutes later when a shot from the point almost trickled past the BC goaltender.
But Schneider continued to be the story, kicking out several good scoring chances for the River Hawks.
“I thought that Cory Schneider was exceptional,” said York.
A key point in the game came at the 13:19 mark, when Lowell went on another power play. But despite a couple of good chances, the River Hawks were not able to get the equalizer.
“Once again, I thought it was a game where we deserved better,” said MacDonald. “BC had some good fortune. Its 2-1, and we hit a crossbar and then a post.
“The difference, obviously, was their two power plays,” he said, adding “My penalty didn’t help matters.”
MacDonald incurred a bench minor when he argued a matching penalty to Potacco in the second period. The resulting power play for BC enabled Bradford to pocket his second goal of the night.
“We didn’t quit, though,” said MacDonald. “When you play as many freshmen as we are, it’s a credit to them. It shows their competitive spirit.”
Lowell travels to Vermont to play a pair against the Catamounts on Friday and Saturday at 7 pm to conclude their regular season, while Boston College does the same in a big home-and-home series with New Hampshire, beginning Friday night in Durham, NH at 7:30 pm.