CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — With the annual Beanpot tournament looming just three days away, there may have been a little concern among the Boston College faithful that the newly-minted top ranked Eagles would overlook Friday’s matchup a Massachusetts squad that entered the game seven game below .500.
That concern, though, was erased from the outset as Boston College dominated all three periods of play, outshooting the Minutemen, 43-16, and eventually finding a way to solve UMass netminder Paul Dainton as the Eagles cruised to a 5-0 win in front of 6,821 at BC’s Kelley Rink.
“It’s easy to talk about and easy to say,” said Eagles head coach Jerry York when asked if he was impressed at his team’s ability to focus on Friday’s game with the Beanpot looming. “The Beanpot to our players is a very memorable night. But we never talked about the Beanpot. I don’t go back to the dorms with the kids. But I think for the most part we were focused.”
As BC’s forwards struggled through two periods to beat Dainton, who finished with 35 saves before being pulled with 5:42 remaining, the Eagles got help from an unlikely source, Philip Samuelsson, who doubled his career total for goals, netting two on Friday along with an assist.
At the same time, BC’s special teams were strong throughout, particularly early when they were forced to kill off an extended 5-on-3 power play for UMass. The Eagles went 1-for-4 themselves on the power play.
“We did a good job of lining up on shots,” said York of the penalty kill. “Even though they weren’t blocked shots, they were shots that had to go to some other spot rather than towards the net.”
Boston College had a sizeable territorial advantage in the opening 20 minutes, outshooting the Minutemen, 20-6, and taking a 1-0 lead on Joe Whitney’s fourth goal of the season at 15:33. It was UMass, though, that missed a golden opportunity.
The Minutemen were unable to generate any offense on an extended 5-on-3 advantage when BC’s Steven Whitney was whistled for tripping and Tommy Cross was issued a five minute major and game misconduct, both penalties coming at 8:49.
UMass only mustered one scoring chance, that coming at 9:18 when defenseman Adam Phillips rang a slapshot off the post. As Whitney’s minor was about to expire, UMass forward Michael Pereira was whistled for hooking, negating much of the remaining portion of the major.
“We didn’t produce on the power play last Saturday night [against Northeastern],” said UMass head coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon. “But we had some good looks. But it’s been kind of an in and out type of group.”
In the second, the Minutemen balanced the play in the early going and looked like they would keep the Eagles off the board and head to the third down just a goal. But the potent BC offense, ranked second in the country, struck late to expand the lead.
Samuelsson, son of NHL legend Ulf Samuelsson, jumped into the rush with Cam Atkinson and Barry Almeida. Almedia dropped a perfect pass to the blueliner as Atkinson drove to the net to set a screen. Samuelsson blasted a shot just under the crossbar with 2:03 remaining to give BC a 2-0 lead heading to the third.
Boston College entered Friday’s game with a perfect 14-0-0 record this season when leading after two periods and extended that streak, as well as the lead.
Samuelsson struck for his second tally at 3:16, blasting a slapper through a screen on the power play. Paul Carey then netted his 12th of the season tipping home a Steven Whitney shot at 14:18. That spelled the end of the night for Dainton, who was relieved by Jeff Teglia (three saves).
Atkinson finished off the scoring at 15:43, burying a Joe Whitney feed past Teglia. After the goal, York replaced BC starting netminder John Muse (14 saves) with Chris Venti, who made two saves to complete the combined shutout.
The loss for UMass (6-14-4 overall, 5-9-4 in Hockey East) allows the two teams nearest in the standings chase to each gain ground. Vermont and Providence both gained a point by skating to a 1-1 tie on Friday, pulling the Friars within three points of the Minutemen and the Catamounts within four points.
For Boston College (19-6-0, 15-5-0), the win allowed them to maintain pace with New Hampshire for first place in Hockey East. The Wildcats beat Maine, 6-3, on Friday but still have two games in hand on the Eagles, one of which they’ll make up Saturday night in their rematch with the Black Bears.
The Eagles will remain idle until Monday’s Beanpot semifinal against Boston University.