AMHERST, Mass. — Teams don’t usually need any added motivation during conference matchups. When Boston University earned the top ranking in the latest poll, though, its game with No. 20 Massachusetts suddenly meant a little more to the Minutemen.
UMass (5-2-1, 3-1 Hockey East) defeated the Terriers (6-2-0, 3-2 Hockey East) Friday night at the Mullins Center in front of 7,212; the loss ended a three-game BU win streak. The Terriers scored at least six goals in each of those three games.
After BU dominated the first four minutes of the game, outshooting UMass 6-0 and controlling play, a turnover put the Terriers behind.
“[BU] had the momentum early in the game. I think they got the first five shots of the game,” UMass captain Cory Quirk said following the win. “Getting that first goal gave us some momentum.”
Junior defenseman Colby Cohen tried to clear the puck, but UMass winger James Marcou trailed the play and stick checked Cohen. He picked up the puck and quickly found Quirk streaking into the slot.
Quirk accepted the pass on his forehand and BU freshman net minder Grant Rollheiser dove forward, hoping to poke check, away from Quirk. But the UMass captain shifted to his backhand, dangled around the outstretched Rollheiser and flipped the puck into the open net, top shelf.
Quirk’s linemate Alex Berry doubled UMass’ lead 4:18 later, but defenseman Martin Nolet made the key plays that led to the goal.
After a scramble in the corner, Nolet collected a loose puck and immediately fired to Berry who skated up ice. Nolet followed, creating a 2-on-1. Rather than looking for a pass, Nolet headed to the net, taking out Cohen, the lone BU defender in the zone, and Rollheiser. Waiting for Nolet to set the screen, Berry slowed and shifted to the backhand in the high slot, he fired on net and Rollheiser reacted late.
“My purpose was just to drive to the net as hard as I could to create some space for Alex because I know he has a great shot,” Nolet said.
While UMass’ top line put the team up early, its checking line kept the game scoreless early and defended BU’s top line of center Colin Wilson and wingers Chris Higgins and Jason Lawrence.
UMass coach Don Cahoon alters the wings on his fourth line game-to-game, but junior captain Brett Watson always centers the line. Throughout the game, Watson, Scott Crowder and Marc Concannon kept Wilson and his linemates from creating quality looks at goaltender Paul Dainton; making his third straight start after relieving Dan Meyers in a 9-4 win over Providence on Oct. 31.
“What would ordinarily be considered UMass’ fourth line had a terrific night,” BU coach Jack Parker.
“They played great defense, and they scored a goal. That line with Watson and Crowder, they played really hard against Wilson’s line. During the course of the 60 minutes, that line was up against Wilson’s line an awful lot.”
For most of the game, Watson, Crowder and Concannon were on the defensive against BU’s top line, but after Zach Cohen cut UMass’ lead to 3-1, Crowder squashed any hope BU had of a comeback.
Concannon waited behind the BU net after Watson passed it around the boards to him.
Traffic developed in front of Rollheiser, Concannon quickly fired through the throng to Crowder at the right face-off circle. Rollheiser didn’t see the pass, so Crowder waited before firing the puck into the open net.
After recording 21 points in BU’s last three games, Wilson line went scoreless against the Minutemen and rated a minus-9 collectively. While Watson’s line posted a plus-8 against the Terriers.
Berry added an empty-net goal with 57 seconds remaining in the game. Parker pulled Rollheiser with 2:19 remaining in regulation, but the Terriers failed to test Dainton.
The Minutemen take on sister school UMass-Lowell tomorrow night in Amherst; the Terriers head back to Boston to host No. 7 Northeastern.