CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Boston College jumped out to a 4-0 early second-period lead and finished off a young and undermanned Massachusetts-Lowell squad 5-2 on Tuesday. Cam Atkinson and Chris Kreider each scored twice.
The fourth-ranked Eagles, coming off a surprising two losses in their last three games, held Lowell to only two shots in the first period and seven in the second. The River Hawks managed eight in the third for a total of 17 but only by pulling their goaltender on a power play with over five minutes remaining.
“We’ve been giving up too many shots in recent games, but this was a pretty good effort by us defensively,” BC coach Jerry York said. “And Johnnie [Muse] played another solid game for us in goal.”
BC’s top line of Atkinson, Brian Gibbons and Paul Carey has been a force all year, but second-liners Krieder and Kevin and Jimmy Hayes began a hoped-for emergence. In addition to Kreider’s two goals (the second an empty-netter), Jimmy Hayes scored the short-handed goal that established the 4-0 lead.
“Cam and Gibbie’s line has been very dangerous all year and they were dangerous again tonight, but now we’ve added Hayes’ line,” York said. “I thought they came of age this evening. [Freshman] Kevin Hayes is much more comfortable now playing at this level and Chris broke out of the drought he’s had with two goals. It was good to see that line emerge as a top line.”
Atkinson added to his coach’s praise.
“The second line stepped it up big time,” Atkinson said. “They used their bodies and they all played power forward tonight. It got us a lot of momentum.”
Boston College moves to 5-2-0 overall and 3-1-0 in Hockey East.
For Lowell (1-5-2, 1-5-0 HEA), it was a fourth straight loss, all within the league. The River Hawks were expected to be rebuilding following a mass graduation last year, but also had top players Scott Campbell, Patrick Cey and Michael Budd sidelined. As a result, they dressed nine freshmen and sophomore forwards, three freshmen and sophomore defensemen and a freshman goaltender.
“They’re an awfully good team and we’re a team that’s evolving,” UML coach Blaise MacDonald said.
MacDonald’s gamble of pulling his goaltender on the third-period power play almost paid off. With 5:09 remaining and a 4-2 deficit, Derek Arnold had Muse down and out on the left post but the goaltender somehow came up with the grab.
“That’s exactly what we were looking for as the road team,” MacDonald said. “We pulled the goalie and got a great look. [If you get to] 4-3 as the road team, a young team, you’re playing with the track’s money. But we’ve had a hard time converting those.”
Krieder opened the scoring at 10:08 of the first period on the first quality scoring opportunity in the game for either side. Kevin Hayes carried the puck into the high slot and backhanded a pass to Kreider, who sniped a shot into the top corner of the net.
Five minutes later, Lowell got its first golden chance when Matt Ferreira broke in all alone, only to be foiled by a Muse pad save.
As the period drew to a close, Atkinson scored a potential back-breaker at 19:47, taking a feed from Patch Alber and beating Lowell goaltender Marc Boulanger from above the right faceoff circle.
The second period opened no more auspiciously for the River Hawks. They took a penalty in the opening minute and after killing that one took another at 4:44. It took the Eagles only six seconds to convert, with Atkinson ripping a wrister short side from the top of the left faceoff circle.
The BC penalty killers got into the act four minutes later, using a short-handed goal to make it 4-0. Paul Carey curled behind the net and tried a wrap-around. It went wide but caromed directly to Jimmy Hayes on the left post, where he tapped it in.
To the River Hawks’ credit, they didn’t give up, retaliating just nine seconds later with a Derek Arnold unassisted goal. A minute later, Josh Holmstrom shot from outside the right faceoff circle and Muse could not control the rebound, which Ferreira put in from the slot.
While killing the third-period six-on-four, BC had four shots at the empty net and missed them all, but with 54 seconds left Kreider didn’t miss, completing the scoring.