CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — While some may believe Boston College is known for its welcoming hospitality, you might not want to expect that from its hockey team.
The Eagles presented a rude welcome gift for Massachusetts-Lowell coach Norm Bazin, coaching in his first-ever Hockey East games since taking over behind the Lowell bench in June. The Eagles beat the River Hawks, 6-3, to complete the weekend series sweep in front of 4,207 fans at BC’s Kelley Rink.
The top-ranked Eagles took the first game of the weekend series, 4-2, on Friday night.
“We win as a team and lose as a team,” said Bazin. “Tonight was a really good example of losing as a team. From the forwards on out, we kept breaking down.”
The final score wasn’t entirely indicative of BC’s dominance. The Eagles offense was on overdrive for two periods, opening a 6-1 lead through 40 minutes before Lowell clawed back for two goals in the third.
For the second straight night, BC netminder Parker Milner was a major part of the Eagles success. Milner finished the game with 37 saves, matching his total from Friday, and was stellar in the pivotal second period when the River Hawks held a slanted 19-4 advantage in shots, yet BC outscored Lowell, 2-0, in the frame.
“He’s seeing too many shots from our vantage point,” said BC coach Jerry York of his junior netminder. “But right now, we really feel excited about how he’s playing in goal.”
In Friday night’s series opener, BC came out of the gates slow and sloppy and relied on Milner to keep them in the game in the opening period. One night later, that wouldn’t be necessary.
The Eagles struck four times in the opening 17 minutes, chasing Lowell’s starting goaltender Brian Robbins from the game and opening a 4-1 lead through one.
“That was the best first period we’ve played all year,” said York of his team’s explosive start. “We really moved the puck well, made some smart decisions with the puck, and created a lot of scoring chances.”
Rookies Destry Straight and Johnny Gaudreau opened a 2-0 lead for the Eagles with goals at 4:35 and 6:37, respectively.
After Lowell’s Scott Wilson answered by poking a rebound past Milner at 9:44, BC struck twice more.
Steven Whitney built on his two-point game Friday with his fourth goal of the season on a power play at 11:23. Chris Kreider scored the first of his team-best two goals on the game and, in doing so chased Robbins from the game at 16:57. Robbins finished with just nine saves on 13 shots and was replaced by Marc Boulanger (nine saves), the third goaltender of the weekend series for the River Hawks.
The goaltending change didn’t help much immediately. Early in the second, with BC on the power play, Kreider one-timed a drop pass from Brian Dumoulin between Boulanger’s legs to expand the cushion to 4 at 1:39.
When Lowell was given a chance with the power play, that didn’t help either, as a Daniel Furlong turnover led to a Bill Arnold short-handed goal at 14:07.
The River Hawks showed grit in the third, cutting the lead to three on goals by Josh Holmstrom, the sophomore’s first career marker, at 3:32 and an unassisted tally from Joseph Pendenza at 5:16.
The loss drops Lowell (2-3-0, 0-2-0 Hockey East) below .500 for the first time this season. Things won’t get much easier for the River Hawks, who face Boston University for a single game next Saturday before traveling to Maine for a two-game series November 11-12.
BC improves to 8-1-0 on the season and is a perfect 5-0-0 in league play. This is the Eagles’ best start since beginning 8-0-1 in 2002-03. That season, BC also began 5-0-0 in Hockey East.
“We accept the fact that we’ve had a good start — Ws and Ls — but we’ve got to push forward and just get better as a club,” said York.