After the long two hour drive rom Chestnut Hill, I walked into the Mullins Center feeling as pessimistic as ever and hearing that Ian McCoshen was out with an illness upon my arrival didn't help things one bit. I walked over to the concession stands, purchased a popcorn and a coke, found a seat just in time for puck drop, and thirty seconds into that game, that popcorn was on the ground while my face was as red as a cherry, I almost got up and punched the UMass fan sitting next to me, I felt as if this team had hit rock bottom.
But in typical Coach York fashion, the Eagles responded with their biggest win of the season over a UMass team that just wouldn't go away. The Minuteman goal 46 seconds into the game was just bad gapping by BC's defensemen, in fact, the Eagles controlled the play in the first 30 seconds but Minuteman forward Ray Piggozi found a hole in the defense and converted on a semi-breakaway to give UMass the lead. If BC finds a way to turn things around this season, I think we could look at last night's first period as one of the turning points because immediately after they scored, BC turned up the heat and controlled the play for large chunks of the period. For the first time since Halloween night out in Denver, the maroon and gold tallied a power play goal when Chris Calnan redirected a Scotty Savage shot past freshman goaltender Henry Dill. Exactly one minute later, Cam Spiro showcased his immense skill when he scored his third of the season, a tally that went unassisted.
BC continued to carry the play for the majority of the second period but they weren't rewarded until Quinn Smith fired home a pass from Noah Hanifin with under 5 minutes to go. At first look, I thought Hanifin's pass redirected off a UMass players skate and into the net but apparently that wasn't the case. Of the five senior forwards (including Linell), I think Smith has made the biggest jump from his first three years to his senior year. While he isn't the most skilled guy on the ice, he's the type of guy that opponents hate, he's fast, he relentless on the forecheck, and every once and a while, he finds a way to put the puck in the net.
The third period was a bit of headache as UMass and their coach just wouldn't go away. They capitalized on a couple of failed BC clearing attempts on the PK and recorded a power play goal of their own. It's always tough to kill penalties but the olympic ice magnifies it as teams have a lot more room to make plays and often guys miss their assignments. Historically, BC has a hard time on the PK at UMass, UNH, and Minnesota because they know how to use that big ice. Shortly after that, Chris Calnan made perhaps the play of the year as he took the puck from end to end, made a power move driving to the net, and slid puck past Dill to regain the two goal cushion. The two teams traded goals again just 32 seconds apart but it wasn't without controversy as UMass head coach John Micheletto "challenged" BC's fifth goal (scored by Hanifin). Last year, Michelletto almost killed Joe Bertagna after the officials called an offsides on a play in which they scored (it was vs BC). This time, he thought he could compel the refs into changing the call but after a short review, it was ruled no goal. UMass also had a previous goal called back due to a hand pass in the second period. In Jack Parker type fashion, he blamed the officials after the game, and refused to give BC any credit.
Obviously, huge win for the boys, mainly because they gained some ground in the Hockey East standings but also because they jumped a few spots in the all important pairwise rankings. With McCoshen out, I thought Scotty Savage played his best game of the season while Hanifin and Matheson were also outstanding. If McCoshen returns to the lineup tonight, I assume he will be placed back on the power play but you could certainly make the case as to why Savage should remain there. He was terrific. On the offensive side of things, Alex Tuch, Chris Calnan, and Adam Gilmour were dominant. I talked about how BC needed their big guys to get going as soon as possible and they answered the call last night. BC played fast, they played aggressive, and most importantly, they executed in the offensive zone. The power play moved the puck around very well and was rewarded with a goal while the PK was able to kill off 4 of 5 Minutemen power plays. All around, very solid performance from the boys in maroon last night. HUGE game vs Maine this evening @ Kelley Rink.
Why BC Won-
1. Their big guns looked dominant up front. Tuch, Gilmour, and Calnan seem like they're beginning to recognize their roles on this team. I thought they were tremendous last night.
2. Hanifin, Matheson, and Savage all played exceptionally well. Watching Matheson and Hanifin skate in open ice is a thing of beauty.
3. Secondary scoring continues. Smith and Spiro. Also thought Matty G looked really good.
1. Bad start but other than that, I liked the way BC played. Fast, fast, fast....we like fast.
Players of the game- Hanifin and Calnan
Next- Maine tonight @ 7
Link to highlights- http://www.umassathletics.com/sports/m-hockey/recaps/112114aac.html