Plenty of teams at all levels of hockey will follow up a great game with a bad one or vice versa. There’s nothing particularly special about a team experiencing ups and downs over the course of a season. What you don’t see quite as often is a team following up one of their worst periods of the season with one of their best.
Ladies and gentlemen, you’re 2017-2018 Boston College men’s hockey team.
After a second period that could politely described as uninspired, the Eagles exploded for four goals to knock off UMass 5-2 and extend their Hockey East lead to four points. A David Cotton power play tally was quickly followed by three straight goals from the Mattila brothers to give BC a win in a game that they looked determined to lose for a time.
It wasn’t the prettiest of starts for BC, with the Minutemen taking the lead less than 40 seconds into the game when Joe Woll let a puck slip past him. It was a save that Woll absolutely needs to make, but it was his last mistake of the night. Jake Tortora knotted the game at one just a few minutes later, when he snapped a perfect shot just under the crossbar just a few seconds after a UMass penalty had expired. After Tortora’s goal at 4:37 of the first, neither team really threatened much and the buzzer sounded with the score still tied at one.
And then that second period. It’s hard to say much positive about this period outside of the fact that Joe Woll only let one puck past him. UMass outshot BC 13-7 in the middle period and spent a large chunk of the time in the Eagles’ end. After a long period of offensive zone time, the Eagles lost UMass forward George Mika along the low boards and allowed him to walk right in front of Woll. Mika’s shot beat Woll under the crossbar and UMass regained their lead at 11:57 of the second. Woll made a few big stops to keep the deficit at one headed into the third, but BC was not able to generate anything on the offensive end.
The script completely flipped in the third, with some big help from the Minutemen. UMass’s Griff Jeszeka landed a high hit on Ron Greco and got himself a five minute major penalty to go along with a game misconduct. After some initial trouble getting set up, Logan Hutsko fed David Cotton in the low slot for a one timer that Cotton made no mistake on. Cotton ripped the shot into the top left corner and with just about 13 minutes left, the game was tied again.
From there, the night belonged to the Finnish Eagles, with Jesper Mattila breaking the 2-2 tie with a quick wrist shot off a 3-on-1 that beat UMass goalie Matt Murray on his low blocker side at 14:08 of the period. 40 seconds later, Julius Mattila beat Murray on a shot in almost the same area. Julius added a second goal on an empty netter and a bad loss turned into a comfortable win in the span of about three minutes.
This very much felt like a case of BC playing well for about 20 minutes and those 20 minutes fortunately being enough to win. Joe Woll made 28 saves on 30 shots including some important ones at the end of the first and second periods to keep BC in the game, but only faced six for the entire third period. Julius Mattila added an assist on his brother’s goal for a three point night while David Cotton (1G, 1A), Jake Tortora (1G, 1A), and Logan Hutsko (2A) had two points of their own.
With the win, the Eagles have clinched no lower than fourth in Hockey East and will be hosting a quarterfinals series starting on March 9. Thanks to a helpful BCI twitter follower, we realized BC’s magic number began the night at six and is now down to four. Three points would likely do the job for the Eagles, but Northeastern winning out combined with a number of other results could give it to the Huskies. BC has three games left in their season, all against Maine. They’ll head north for the first contest on Saturday before welcoming the Black Bears to Conte Forum for two games next weekend.