AMHERST, Mass. — Unfortunately for Massachusetts, Boston College didn’t forget it had a game before Monday’s Beanpot final against rival Boston University.
Brothers Steven and Joe Whitney combined for five points with three goals and two assists and Brian Gibbons extended his point-scoring streak to 10 games with a career-high four helpers as the No. 14 Eagles routed the No. 15 Minutemen 7-1 in front of a sellout 8,389 fans at the Mullins Center.
“It was one of those nights where everything we did resulted in a red light,” commented BC coach Jerry York following the win. “If you look at the shots, they were fairly even, if you look at the game. You get on the bus afterwards and it’s almost surreal.
“It was a game that could have been a lot closer, but all of the sudden every break imaginable, every shot we had, any scoring chance went into the net. It was a crazy game to coach; it happens once in a coach’s lifetime that every bounce goes your way.”
Hockey East’s top offense tied its highest output of the season with the seven tallies, as BC has outscored its opponents by an 18-3 margin over its past three games, all victories. The win also gave the Eagles (15-8-2, 11-6-2 Hockey East) sole possession of second place in Hockey East, just three points behind league-leading New Hampshire after the Wildcats fell to Maine 3-2 this evening.
“It’s going to be a good race to the wire I think,” quipped York on the tightening league picture atop the standings. “It’s the first time in a long time that this many teams are into February thinking that they have a chance to win this thing.”
Steven Whitney’s goal and two assists bumped his current scoring streak to three games, as he now has seven points over the span.
“[Steven's] really becoming a factor; he’s becoming a special player for us” noted York on his rookie forward’s play as of late. “On the point on the power play, he’s scoring some highlight goals. He’s going to be a big factor for us when we win this pennant.”
The Eagles opened the scoring at 15:08 of the first period on Joe Whitney’s first goal of the game. Linemate Brian Gibbons found Whitney all-alone at the top of the left faceoff circle with a clean cross-ice pass from the right corner. Whitney wasted little time putting the puck past UMass netminder Paul Dainton.
The Minutemen had multiple opportunities to tie the contest over the next six minutes, all off the stick of Casey Wellman. However, the efforts of John Muse and a little luck kept BC up 1-0. Muse was able to save Wellman’s one-time blast at 13:45, then dodged a bullet minutes later when Wellman’s power-play shot sailed wide of the net.
The frustrations continued for Wellman at 9:05 when his attempt clanged off the post.
A Massachusetts icing call led to Boston College’s second goal at 6:40. On the ensuing faceoff, Steven Whitney fed the puck from the bottom of the circle to Paul Carey in the slot, and Carey buried the puck before Dainton could react.
Joe Whitney gave his team a 3-0 lead just over a minute later during a flurry in front of the Minutemen net. Skating into the UMass zone from the right side with the puck, Gibbons’ shot from the circle brought Dainton out of the crease in order to make the save. A scramble ensued as players converged on the rebound, and Whitney was able to collect the puck and put it home at 5:22.
Sophomore Jimmy Hayes pushed the BC advantage to four moments later. After gathering an errant puck in the neutral zone, Hayes crossed the blue line and drove the net, slipping a shot between Dainton’s skate and the right post at 3:01.
The Eagles took their 4-0 lead into the first intermission, having outshot the Minutemen 16-9 in the period. UMass lifted Dainton (12 saves) to start the second in favor of Dan Meyers. Meyers didn’t fare much better than his counterpart, allowing three more goals with no support from the offense in the period.
Steven Whitney prevented UMass from getting out of the second stanza unscathed, scoring at 5:21. Whitney skated in from the left, evaded a defender, and then made a nice move that froze Meyers at the top of the crease. Meyers dived to recover, but Whitney was well past him, sliding the puck across an unprotected goal line for his fourth goal of the season.
Rookie Chris Kreider added a tally at 2:19 with help from Gibbons and Cam Atkinson that stood up on review. The Eagles squeezed in their seventh goal of the game with two tenths of a second remaining in the period when Atkinson scored on the power play.
Hobey Baker candidate James Marcou broke up the Boston College shutout bid at 14:23 of the third period with his ninth goal of the season.
Muse played two periods in net for the Eagles and made 16 saves without allowing a goal. Freshman Parker Milner, who was stellar in the Eagles’ last trip to Amherst, a 3-1 victory on Dec. 4, made six saves in the third period and gave up one goal. Meyers finished the game in net for the Minutemen, making 12 saves. Boston College went one-for-five with the man-advantage on the night, while UMass was scoreless on its six chances, including a five-on-three opportunity late in the first period.
“It was a disappointing night,” said Massachusetts coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon on his team’s performance. “We worked really hard to get to a point where people come out and support us, and we go out and lay a goose egg.
“Boston College was remarkably determined. The only way you’re going to compete and beat a team like that is to be incredibly determined yourself. We showed a real lack of commitment to that tonight.”
Boston College returns to the ice on Monday night at the TD Garden for the championship of the 58th Beanpot against rival Boston University at 8:00 p.m. Massachusetts (16-11-0, 11-9-0 Hockey East) is off until next Friday, when it will host Northeastern at 7:00 p.m.