The No. 1 Boston College Eagles became the first Hockey East team to punch their ticket to the TD Garden and the Hockey East semifinal with a 3-2 victory over Massachusetts on Saturday night to sweep the best-of-three series.
The victory, while enjoyable for the Eagles, was seen as one of controversy for the Minutemen, and head coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon could barely control his emotions after the game.
Cahoon questioned Boston College’s game-winning goal. He felt prior to the goal, there first should have been an icing whistled on his Minutemen. With that call let go, he then felt T.J. Syner drew a hit-from-behind call in back of the UMass net.
“I’ve never been more frustrated in all my life,” said Cahoon. “I’ve got 28 kids in that locker room that are devastated and don’t feel like they lost this series. We should still be playing out there right now.
“It was disgraceful. It was icing. [After that], if Syner didn’t get hit from behind going to get the puck behind the net, there should’ve been a huge embellishment call. So pick it. What was it? There’s no way or getting around it and no one in this league is going to tell me otherwise because it just ended our season.”
After what Cahoon felt were multiple missed calls, BC’s Chris Kreider found a late-breaking Brian Dumoulin with 49.1 seconds remaining in the second period to break a 2-2 deadlock.
The Boston College defense, 18-0-1 when leading after two periods, then held on in the third for a second-straight one-goal win. The Eagles opened the quarterfinals series on Friday with a 2-1 victory.
After the game, Cahoon said nothing more than his opening quote about the game-winning goal and Boston College coach Jerry York was diplomatic in avoiding comment himself.
“I try to coach,” said York. “I have a hard enough time coaching my team rather than trying to referee the game. I used to be a referee and that was hard.”
The game itself was completely different than Friday’s tight-checking series opener. Both teams were willing to take more chances and thus, created more scoring opportunities.
In the first period alone, the clubs combined for three goals – one for the Minutemen and two for the Eagles – while the referees whistled 19 minutes in penalties, a polar opposite of the single penalty called in Friday’s game.
UMass got on the board first when Conor Shezry buried a Syner pass in the slot past BC goaltender Parker Milner (33 saves) at 2:54.
The goal broke a BC streak of 687 minutes, 56 seconds – 11 full and two partial games – in which the Eagles had not trailed.
Even so, that lead was short lived. After BC was whistled for a penalty shortly thereafter, UMass forward Steven Guzzo – one of the best UMass players in Friday’s 2-1 loss – was flagged for a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind when he buried BC’s Edwin Shea into the boards at 3:39.
Before that penalty expired, the Eagles scored twice – first a four-on-four goal and then on the power play.
Pat Mullane scored on a breakaway, taking a pass through the neutral zone from Johnny Gaudreau at 4:25. Then, once on the power play, Paul Carey and Bill Arnold executed a perfect give-and-go with Carey who fired the shot past UMass goalie Kevin Boyle (19 saves) to give the Eagles the 2-1 lead.
Both teams exchanged ample chances thereafter, including a seven second-span in which Kreider and Syner were both stopped on breakaways.
It appeared the second period would be scoreless until a crazy flurry in the final two minutes resulted in not only an equalizer for UMass, but the controversial game-winner for BC.
UMass struck at 18:07 when defensemen Michael Marcou and Joel Hanley connected on a power-play rush. After gaining the line, Marcou fired a slapshot-pass that Hanley perfectly directed past Milner to knot the game at 2.
The teams matched on the ensuing faceoff before BC regained the lead for the final time. After what Cahoon felt was the non-call icing, Dumoulin took a pass in the high slot, made a nice toe drag and fired a shot over Boyle’s glove to the approval of the 3,946 in attendance.
The victory gives BC (27-10-1) a berth in the Hockey East semifinals for the 21st time and eighth straight season.
UMass (13-18-5), despite a gritty, hard-fought series as the No. 8 seed, falls to the Eagles in the quarterfinals for the third straight season.