AMHERST, Mass. — Sophomore forward Cam Atkinson scored two goals to help No. 15 Boston College overcome an early deficit and skate past ninth Massachusetts, 3-1, on Friday evening.
Overall, a pretty solid game for us tonight, commented BC head coach Jerry York. We feel pretty good about getting on the bus with two points in a tough place to get them. We were especially on top of our game in the second period.
It was a special game for Cam. Hes been getting better and better during the year, and tonight he was a real force on the ice.
Boston College deserved the fate they got tonight, remarked UMass coach Don Toot Cahoon. I thought they played extremely well. They pressured us and created problems for us in our own end. There were times when we made some plays and didnt get rewarded for it, but overall I thought they played a very strong game.
Both teams struggled to impose their will in the early moments of the contest, as end-to-end hockey prevailed. The Eagles Brian Gibbons had the best opportunity to score during this time. Rookie defender Patrick Wey corralled a loose puck in the offensive zone and sent it across the ice to Gibbons, who was all-alone on the left side low. Gibbons shot slid just wide of the far post to keep the game scoreless 90 seconds in.
Gibbons would end up playing a role in the games first goal moments later when he was whistled for hitting from behind at 1:51. The penalty put the top power-play unit in Hockey East to work against the leagues best penalty killers, and UMass was able to score within 17 seconds of earning the advantage.
James Marcou took the puck from the right corner and skated toward the near post unobstructed. The Boston College defense waited for the stick-handling Marcou to dish but instead he chose to keep it himself, slipping a backhanded attempt past Parker Milner at 2:08 to make it 1-0 Minutemen.
We were trying to take away time and space from him, noted York on the Marcou goal. We won the face off, but it was a failed clear. I think that was a goal that Parker [Milner] would like to have back. It wasnt a great way for him to start the game, but he got better and better as the game went on.
The Eagles knotted the contest at one at 6:42. Atkinson netted his fifth goal of the season when his rebound attempt bounced off multiple Minutemen and into the back of the net.
Boston College controlled the tempo in the first half of the second stanza, keeping the puck bottled up in the UMass zone. With some stellar play and a little luck, Paul Dainton was able to keep the Eagles from taking the lead for the time being.
Gibbons put his team in front at 13:16 after he skated in along the right dasher and wristed a shot from below the face off dot past Dainton. The Eagles took the 2-1 advantage into the second break having out-shot the Minutemen by a 16-6 margin in the period.
Boston College came with speed and quickness, and I dont think we matched it, noted Cahoon on the Eagles second period performance. I think were capable of matching it, but we didnt match it for too many minutes of the game.
We had a lot of jump and stayed out of the penalty box the whole period, said York. We had some really good lines that created back-to-back-to-back chances and we didnt give up a lot either. There werent any prime scoring chances for UMass during the period. Conversely, in the third period we were holding on for a bit.
The Minutemen turned up the intensity in the third, however the Eagles defense was equal to the task as it frustrated the Massachusetts attack. As the period progressed, the BC forecheck did a good job of preventing UMass from coming cleanly out of its own zone.
Hopes of a Minutemen comeback were dashed at 15:23 when Brian Keane was assessed a five-minute major for hitting from behind. Although BC was also given a minor penalty for hitting after the whistle, the major took the wind out of the sails of UMass as it guaranteed the Eagles would have the man advantage for the remainder of the game.
Atkinson tallied his second goal of the contest with a slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle at 19:01 to make it a 3-1 final.
I dont think we felt that we couldnt win the game, quipped Cahoon on his teams third period performance. I think we struggled to get a rhythm and to be consistent shift-to-shift tonight. We struggled a little bit with the puck, we tried to make plays too quickly when we had time to make plays, and we didnt demonstrate poise when we had time to make those plays. It seemed as if we were fighting ourselves all night long.
We got outstanding goaltending from our freshman goaltender, Parker Milner, especially in the third period, said York. The Minutemen played their best 20 of the game in the third; they created some terrific offensive chances. They had great pressure against us, especially during the back-to-back penalties, and created some really good time in our zone.
Milner earned his third win of the season with a 23-save performance, while Dainton stopped 29 shots, including 15 in the second period. The Eagles went 1-for-5 on the power-play with the lone goal coming during the five-minute major. UMass finished the night 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
Tonights environment was just outstanding, noted York on the 8,169 fans in attendance at the Mullins Center, the fifth-largest crowd all-time. It was an ideal place to play college hockey. Lots of enthusiasm from the crowd, something we all try to achieve in Hockey East to have for our games.
Tomorrow Boston College (7-3-2 overall, 5-3-2 in Hockey East) will make the short trip down Commonwealth Ave on Saturday evening to take on rival Boston University, while Massachusetts (9-4-0, 5-3-0) heads to sister-school UMass-Lowell. Both contests will get underway at 7:00 p.m.