This isn’t the first time this season that the Minutemen faced #1 Boston College, unfortunately, UMass fell short in back-to-back matchups against the Eagles earlier this year. In last Friday’s matchup, the Minutemen were challenged to find ways onto the scoreboard, as Boston College goaltender, Spencer Knight, held up in net for his team while his defense had struggled in pushing the puck out of their zone. This allowed the Minutemen consecutive opportunities to get pucks in deep, but they seemed to struggle through much of the first in finishing these chances. Boston College had a similar problem as UMass’s Filip Lindberg allowed nothing in the first period as well. Both goalies showed remarkable strength between the posts with glove saves, back-to-back saves, and for Knight especially, keeping UMass’s shots out while knocked down on the ice.
UMass did a great job of staying out of the box, as their only penalty was in the first few minutes of the opening period by Carson Gicewicz for elbowing. Boston College faced three penalty kills themselves that they successfully fought off. One of their strongest forwards, Alex Newhook, took two out of the three penalties that Boston College had within ten minutes of each other for roughing and interference. Despite his two penalties, Newhook was a force on the ice, continuously creating strong chances for the Eagles resulting in Boston College’s first goal scored by Mike Hardman. Newhook caused a turnover on Oliver Chau as Chau tried to leave the zone, passing the puck over to Hardman who was tangled with Gicewicz. The puck happened to get poked in off the blade of Gicewicz’s stick as he tried to force Hardman out of the crease, but it still resulted in a lead for the Eagles.
The Eagles then managed to put another puck in by a quick one timer from Jack McBain that went right behind Lindberg. This two goal-lead didn’t last long – only about eight seconds to be exact – as Bobby Trivigno shot right over Knight’s pad with a pass from Garrett Wait who received it from Josh Lopina right off the face off. Now a 1-2 game, the Minutemen needed to find a way to tie it up going into the third if they wanted to come out of the game with the win.
The third started off similar to the first, with both teams struggling to put it past either goaltender. At 14:11 into the period, Gicewicz found the back of the net as the puck rebounded off of Knight’s shoulder then once again off Gicewicz and in. The play was reviewed for potentially batting the puck in, but was ultimately considered a good goal. The game remained 2-2 as it concluded, pushing it into 3-on-3 overtime.
The highlight of the game was absolutely when Marc Del Gaizo got an unbelievable breakaway as he skated through the neutral zone and approached the net. Boston College’s Drew Helleson dove to the ice and swung his stick towards Del Gaizo causing Del Gaizo to get tripped to the ice. Helleson, as well as the puck, then slid into the net, knocking over Knight. Because the whistle wasn’t blown before the puck crossed over the goal line, the on-ice officials ruled it a good goal. The play had to be reviewed again, but the call stood, resulting in a 3-2 overtime win for the Minutemen and their first against the Eagles this season.
Since coming back from their two weeks away from the ice, the Minutemen have been able to win over two teams they had struggled to beat in the beginning of the season. With Providence, they had gone into overtime in two games, coming out with one overtime win via a shootout. In their third matchup, UMass came back to win 8-1 over a team that had been playing and practicing continuously unlike the Minutemen. Then with Boston College, UMass had been closely beaten in the first of the two matchups, but fell short once again in the second. Although the third matchup can’t be said to be a huge win (at least on the scoreboard that is) compared to the game against Providence, the Minutemen were still able to come out with a win and two points from each. This benefited the Minutemen in the rankings as it propelled them up from #9 to #6 in the nation. In addition, beating not only a rival school, but a school who is ranked at #1 should give the Minutemen some more confidence in the games to come. We can expect to see much more UMass in upcoming matchups as they continue to prove themselves and show up against these high ranking teams in Hockey East.