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Gracel goal gives Massachusetts tie with Boston College

 Gracel goal gives Massachusetts tie with Boston College
CHESTNUT HILL, MASS. – Branden Gracel scored a power-play goal at 18:34 of the third period to lead Massachusetts to a 2-2 tie with No. 7 Boston College.

The goal came after BC defenseman Steve Santini was assessed a five-minute major and a game disqualification for a mid-ice hit on Steven Guzzo that left the UMass forward lying on the ice for two minutes. Santini had just returned to action after missing a game due to a previous game DQ.

Gracel’s goal came little more than a minute into the five-minute major, leaving UMass with another four minutes on the advantage extending into overtime. However, BC’s penalty kill rose to the occasion and generated several strong short-handed chances for themselves, none better than a Quinn Smith breakaway up the left wing foiled by UMass goaltender Mac Haight.

The tie came one night after a controversial 2-1 BC win at UMass in which a tying goal was disallowed using video replay to show that a player had been offside. The ruling prompted the NCAA to issue a memo clarifying that video review is allowed to check offsides only in televised games. Contrary to the ruling in the game, feeds for Internet streaming are not to be used for such replays.

“We’d like to have taken two points on the road, but overall we’re very excited about the resolve that our players showed after a very emotional game last night,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “We got better as the game went on, especially the final 20 [minutes]. It was a nice way to finish a trying weekend.”

Haight stopped 26-of-28 shots in only his second collegiate start, filling in for injured starter Steve Mastalerz.

Entering the two-game series with BC, Gracel had gone seven games in which he’d recorded only a single assist, but scored goals both nights and also assisted on Ray Pigozzi’s first-period strike that gave UMass a short-lived lead. Pigozzi was tripped, but roofed a shot into the upper right corner from his knees.

“I lost my game for a bit there, but when you get back to the basics and simplify things, everything else falls into place,” Gracel said.

BC had appeared by the end of the first period to be seizing control of the game. The Eagles overcame an early disallowed power-play goal by Michael Matheson and then Pigozzi’s goal that gave UMass a 1-0 lead.

Ryan Fitzgerald tied the game, taking a nice feed from Kevin Hayes, who faked a shot, freezing the defense and Haight, before dishing off.

Austin Cangelosi made it 2-1 BC, taking a Joel Hanley pass out of the left corner and roofing it into the top of the net.

That would end the scoring for the Eagles, Hockey East’s top offensive club.

“We’ve got to bury our chances more and be a little more gritty around the crease area,” BC coach Jerry York said. “I thought we had a chance to seal the game, especially in the first period, but they held us to two goals.

“At home, with that many chances, we’ve got to get closer to five goals for.”

With the tie, BC remains atop Hockey East with a 4-0-1 league record. UMass now stands at 1-4-2 in Hockey East, tied with several teams with four points, but giving several games in hand.

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