The nation's top-ranked hockey team lived up to its ranking on Friday night, dominating UMass 5-0 in front of 6,821 at Conte Forum. It was arguably the most complete game of the season for the 19-6-0 Eagles, who have now won four straight and 10 of their last 11 games.
This one only really seemed in doubt in the game's first 10-12 minutes. Tommy Cross absolutely lit up a UMass forward on the blueline, and while the hit looked clean, Benedetto and crew decided that Cross came up high with his elbows and awarded him a five minute major and a 10-minute game misconduct. Cross went off at 8:49 along with Steven Whitney (tripping), giving UMass a 5-on-3 power play.
The UMass 5-on-3 didn't last long, however, as Michael Pereira went off at 10:37, called for hooking (really, interference) and the teams skated four a side for two minutes. Joe Whitney opened up the scoring at 15:33 of the first, and Samuelsson made it 2-0 with some great passing in the offensive end.
Despite dominating the first 40 minutes of play -- outshooting the Minutemen 30-10 through two periods -- the Eagles took just a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Credit should certainly go to the UMass defense and goaltender Paul Dainton, who held the Eagles to just two goals on 30 shots through the first two periods, coming up big on a number of shots. You had the feeling that UMass could sneak back into this one after two periods, especially with the score just 2-0, but the Eagles offense broke it open in the game's final period.
In the third, BC got a power play goal from Philip Samuelsson (assists Pat Mullane, Jimmy Hayes), his second of the game, which effectively put the game out of reach. Paul Carey made it 4-0 on an even strength goal at 14:18, and Cam Atkinson scored less than 90 seconds later on UMass goalie Jeff Teglia, who relieved Dainton after giving up the first four goals.
The Eagles moved the puck extremely well, especially in the first period, and their speed advantage was definitely noticeable throughout the game. The BC blueline also played extremely well, keeping the puck in the Eagles' offensive zone and limiting the times UMass even entered into their zone.
John Muse wasn't tested much in this one, but he did record 14 saves in 56:54 for his 16th win of the season. Muse gave way to Chris Venti, who stopped two shots in the game's final 3:06.
The game was a great way to roll into tomorrow night's Beanpot Tournament semifinal against Boston University. More importantly, the Eagles managed another two points to keep pace with first place New Hampshire in the Hockey East standings. The Wildcats earned four points in a weekend sweep over the Black Bears this weekend, and took sole possession of first place with 32 points. New Hampshire has a game-in-hand with eight left to play.
Tomorrow I'll recap my trip to Conte Forum for the BC-UMass game.