BOSTON – Saturday evening, No. 4 UMass-Lowell won its third Hockey East men’s championship in five years by defeating the No. 14 Boston College, 4-3, in the championship game at TD Garden. Here’s what you need to know about the game, and the implications it had.
1. Special teams won, but almost lost, the game for Lowell
With 20 combined penalty minutes between the two teams, and each team receiving four power plays, a significant portion of Saturday’s game was contested on the power play. Consequently, it played a huge role.
For Lowell, the power play netted the go-ahead goal, a John Edwardh tally following a BC turnover in the defensive zone. The River Hawks also held the Eagles to no shots in the Eagles’ one power play during the third period.
Yet, special teams almost got the River Hawks in trouble. In the first period, Austin Cangelosi scored a tying goal on the power play, changing the complexion of the game from a River Hawks onslaught to an even matchup.
BC’s second goal, scored shorthanded, also almost had a game- changing effect, similar to Ryan Fitzgerald’s shorthanded goal Friday night against Boston University. With the Eagles again down a goal, Graham McPhee tied the score for the Eagles, changing the game from a one-goal deficit to a tie score going into the locker room.
2. Lowell did more with its chances
The second period shot chart tells an interesting story. BC out-attempted Lowell, 25-18, but many of the River Hawks’ attempts came from around the crease, and the River Hawks were able to cash in on their chances, unlike BC, which was held scoreless.
The third period was even more pronounced, with BC out-attempting Lowell, 34-5. However, save for a fluke goal scored on a tough angle by Fitzgerald, Tyler Wall stood tall.
“(Wall) was outstanding today,” Lowell coach Norm Bazin said. “I don’t think you win a championship without a great goalie. He did an outstanding job.”
While BC ended up getting more shot attempts or the game (83-41), Lowell was able to capitalize on the shot attempts it had, and that’s what won it the game.
3. BC completed a month-and-a-half-long collapse
It is easy to lose why BC is in the position it is in relative to the NCAA Tournament, given BC’s dominant performance in the quarterfinal round against Vermont. The fact remains, however, that BC was No. 7 in the Pairwise on the morning of the Beanpot semifinal at the beginning of February. Now, after a catastrophic month of February, and a 3-6-2 record since the morning of the Beanpot semifinal, the Eagles will miss the tournament for the first time in eight years.
When asked about things that he would do differently to remedy the collapse in February, BC coach Jerry York’s antidote was simple:
“(I’d) win more games, probably.”