CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Growing up in Dorchester, brothers Jimmy and Kevin Hayes had plenty of time in the backyard to perfect their timing together.
The two brothers — Jimmy a junior and Kevin a freshman — for Boston College, haven’t had too much time to test their sync this season, playing on separate lines much of the year. That is, until Saturday.
With Kevin Hayes pushed up to brother Jimmy’s line in the third period of a 2-2 tie against Massachusetts in game two of the Hockey East quarterfinals, the younger Hayes made a perfect, no-look pass to his brother that Jimmy one-timed over Paul Dainton’s shoulder for the game-winning goal. Jimmy Hayes added an empty-netter to complete the hat trick and a four-goal weekend as the Eagles advanced to the Hockey East semifinals, 4-2, over the Minutemen.
“[Kevin] just looked right over his shoulder,” said Jimmy Hayes, who welcomed his brother to his line as Paul Carey nursed a sore ankle. “He had a vision for where I was so he could just turn around and throw one right on my stick and I ended up beating the goalie short side.”
The goal capped a wild, back-and-forth game between the two clubs, a stark contrast to Friday’s 4-1 BC win to open the series, where the top-seeded Eagles dominated the Minutemen from start to finish.
On Saturday, UMass jumped out to an early lead, fell behind in the second, but rallied to tie the game before the Hayes brothers took over. For UMass head coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon, the effort was appreciated even if wasn’t enough.
“I thought we played exceptionally hard,” said Cahoon. “We worked really hard to disrupt the flow of the BC offense and make it a real competitive evening.”
Though the Minutemen posted just 20 shots on net, many, particularly in the third, were grade ‘A’ bids. That made BC netminder John Muse, whose 18 saves on Saturday tied him with Greg Taylor for the all-time saves mark at BC (3,605), play at the top of his game.
“John Muse made some incredible saves for us,” said BC head coach Jerry York.
Unlike Friday, when UMass couldn’t get much going offensively early and fell behind 3-0, the Minutemen came out of the gate flying and scored just 21 seconds into the game. Chase Langeraap picked up a loose puck and walked in alone on Muse, slapping a shot that trickled under his pads for the only goal of the opening period.
BC began the second on a power play after a late too many men penalty on UMass at the end of the first. The Eagles didn’t score on that power play, but when the Minutemen again got caught minutes later with six men, BC’s elder Hayes emphatically buried a loose puck into a wide-open net to knot the game at one.
At 8:51, BC took its first lead. Two seconds after another power play for the Eagles came to an end, Joe Whitney hammered a one-time shot from just inside the blue line untouched into the top corner for the 2-1 lead.
The Minutemen weren’t going quietly, though, and at 16:43 they drew even yet again. Michael Marcou’s shot from the right point pinballed through traffic and past Muse to even the score at two.
It looked like UMass might regain the lead seconds later when Langeraap took a perfect cross-crease feed. Somehow, Muse moved right to left and got a toe on the shot, sending the game to the third deadlocked.
In the third, action was back and forth, and Muse was the goaltender making the stellar saves. While the game was tied, he made a great pad save on Conor Sheary. After Hayes gave BC the lead, Muse left a rebound at the right post but moved quickly, right to left, to stop Danny Hobbs.
In the end, Muse and the brothers Hayes were simply too much for the Minutemen.
The loss ends a frustrating season for UMass, which graduated a large senior class last year and then had a number of high-impact pro signings over the summer. Cahoon, though, has a lot of confidence that his team can learn from this weekend’s playoff series.
“I hope this is real valuable [for the returning players],” said Cahoon. “Everybody’s goal is to get to that championship round and this group has the ability to do it.”
For the Eagles, they advance to the Hockey East semifinals for the seventh consecutive year. The BC senior class, which earned its 100th win on Saturday, is now 12-1 in the Hockey East tournament and 20-1 in post-season play.
“[UMass] was a tough out,” said York. “We’re really proud of the way we played and we’re glad to be going back to the Garden.”