LOWELL, Mass. — For the opening 20 minutes of Friday nights game between No. 11 Boston College and No. 15 Massachusetts-Lowell, things couldnt have looked better for the upstart River Hawks.
However, perfection for 20 minutes doesnt always translate to a victory, as Lowell quickly found against the potent Eagles’ offense.
Despite an early 2-0 advantage for Lowell, BC used its ability to score in bunches, three goals in five minutes in the second period and a pair in less than six minutes in the third that broke open a 3-3 tie, as the Eagles skated to a 5-4 victory in front of 5,065 at Lowells Tsongas Arena.
“It wasn’t the flow we wanted to establish in the second period,” said Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald, whose club paid the price for getting into penalty trouble, giving up a power play goal in the frame and overall was unable to control the game’s pace.
A slow start to the third period didnt help the River Hawks’ cause either.
With the game knotted at three entering the third, BC pressed the Lowell net from the faceoff. Just 1:27 into the period, the Eagles grabbed the lead. Benn Ferriero pushed home a second rebound to put BC in front for good.
Brian Gibbons scored unassisted at 7:20 to extend the Eagles lead to 5-3. Lowell would finally respond a Jeremy Dehner goal with 4.7 second remaining, but it was too little, too late.
Despite allowing four goals, a major storyline in the game was the play of BC netminder John Muse (32 saves). With the River Hawks peppering shots throughout the game, particularly during their eight power plays, it was Muse who stood tall, making plenty of game-saving stops.
“I thought Muse made some incredible saves down the stretch,” said Eagles’ coach Jerry York.
At the other end of the ice, Lowell netminder Carter Hutton put in a yeoman’s effort himself, stopping 27 BC shots.
The River Hawks skated with the energy of a nationally-ranked club through the game’s opening 20 minutes, while the Eagles looked like a team that struggled to skate at all. The result was a 2-0 Lowell lead, one that easily could have been a three- or four-goal lead but for missed opportunities.
The hosts opened the scoring on a power play when defenseman Maury Edwards pinched from the point and found an opening in the slot, snapping a wrister past Muse at 3:20.
Sophomore Jonathan Maniff added to that lead at 9:43 when he completed a picture-perfect two-on-one with Ian Schaser, grabbing the pass in the slot and pulling it around Muse, leaving an open net for the 2-0 lead.
Another odd-man rush resulted in a wide-open net for captain Ben Holmstrom just a minute later, but a misfire on the shot forced the puck just wide of the left post.
Despite the territorial advantage, Lowell held just a 9-7 advantage in shots through one.
In the second, BC looked like a team determined to turn the game around and did just that. The Eagles scored three straight goals, a power-play tally by Joe Whitney at 7:05, a two-on-one goal by Matt Greene at 9:49, and a blast by Tim Filangeri from the left point through traffic at 14:06 to take a 3-2 lead.
Filangeri’s goal, his first of the season, was set up by Nathan Gerbe, the 100th point in the junior’s career.
The River Hawks finally had an answer at 16:45. As Ben Holstrom and Kory Falite raced in on an odd-man rush, the BC defender fell to the ice, allowing an easy cross-ice feed that Falite tipped into the open net to send the game to the third knotted at three.
The Eagles improved to 11-5-5 and 7-3-4 in league play, moving into a tie for second place with Northeastern. At 10-6-4 overall, Lowell drops below .500 in league play at 5-6-4. With Providence and Boston University winning on Friday night, both teams are tied with the River Hawks with 14 points a piece.
Both BC and Lowell can now focus on rivalry games scheduled for Saturday. The Eagles will host cross-town enemy BU, while Lowell hosts sister school Massachusetts.