Not exactly how we drew it up, but championship hockey teams need to win games in which they play their worst hockey. Tonight, BC played its worst hockey. UMass also played some incredible hockey for 59 minutes and 21 seconds. Unfortunately for them, BC scored twice in those 39 seconds late in the second period, and it was enough to come away with the 2-1 win over the Minutemen.
What a strange game. Everything started out exactly as planned. BC was all over UMass to start the game. Then, cue the lights. With 11 minutes left in the 1st period, the power went out. No, really. Electricity ceased to exist. The BC administration can breathe a sigh of relief though, as this was different from those other times Conte Forum went dark. Apparently Lower Campus and much of Newton lost power as well. So it was an area-wide thing.
Okay, fine. Back to hockey.
I don't know what happened when the lights went out, but someone did a fantastic switching act. The BC players that started the game were no longer in white, being replaced by, as far as I could tell, Northeastern. Or something. Because for the vast majority of the rest of the game, the #1 BC Eagles were nowhere to be found.
The teams skated to a 0-0 tie into the dressing room after the 1st period, and then UMass really brought the pain in the 2nd. Midway through the period, the Minutemen appeared to score the game's first goal. The call went under review and it was crystal clear that the UMass player not only directed the puck into the net, but put it in with a distinct kicking motion. What the NBC Sports announcers were watching, I have no idea, because they didn't seem to agree. Go with me on this one. It was kicked.
With under 3 minutes to go, BC caught a break. Pat Mullane took an excellent Gaudreau feed and shot a puck that took a bizarre bounce and superball'd over Boyle's shoulder. 1-0 Eagles.
Just seconds later, as the BC Superfans (the ones that were there, anyway. It's still spring break) finished reminding Boyle that it was all his fault, Gaudreau made another sweet pass back to Tommy Cross who curled the puck around a UMass defender and wristed it top shelf. Just like that, UMass's heads were spinning and it was 2-0 BC.
In the 3rd period, BC started off playing much better, but UMass steadily gained momentum, which culminated in their first and only goal of the game seven minutes into the period. They threatened the whole rest of the game, but couldn't pot the equalizer.
Parker Milner was just incredible in this game. This ranks with the Beanpot as his best showing of the season. With any other goalie in net, BC loses this game. How I typed this up without mentioning him in the first place, I have no idea. If one player was the story, he was it.
Just such a strange game. The puck was bouncing all over the place. No one could settle it and shoot. The refs let just about everything go (everything except Billy Arnold choke-slamming a UMass player who had gotten under his skin... so worth it), but BC couldn't get any kind of flow going.
But, a win is a win. BC is now just one win away from yet another trip to the TD Garden. Elsewhere around the league, Providence took UMass-Lowell into overtime but couldn't put home the goal that would stun the Riverhawks and send the Friars to the Garden. The epic news, of course, is that the Terriers lost to UNH. While it's always a happy day when BU loses, this was enormous for BC. UNH was hovering around the TUC bubble and with the win, even with two losses UNH has a shot to stay above the TUC line. One more win would clinch it for them and keep BC's three wins against them in our TUC record.
In any case, no matter what happens the rest of the night, BC will end up atop the Pairwise Rankings.
Be sure to show up to Conte Forum a few hours early to sit in section XX with yours truly to catch the #4 BC Women's Hockey team's NCAA quarterfinal against St. Lawrence at 1:00pm with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line. The Eagle men take on UMass tomorrow at 7:00pm and a win sends us to the Garden. This is one of the most epic hockey doubleheaders we've ever had. #WeSoExcited