It’s good to be back.
The Boston College men’s hockey team opened their season with a 4-3 win over UMass Amherst on Friday night. It was the team’s first game since March 7 when the college hockey season was cut short, and before getting into anything else, it’s really good to be back. This is a fun team to watch and it’s been a long eight plus months without them. We’ll see what the Hockey East season ends up looking like going forward, but for a couple hours at least, that was really fun to watch.
And now for the actual recap.
The game opened with a bit of sloppy play from both teams, with both BC and UMass unable to generate much on offense and failing to convert on some early power play chances. The Eagles got on the board first, however, when Jack McBain picked up a loose puck and fired it just under the crossbar from just below the circle on the left wing. McBain was elevated to the first line to start the season after the departures of David Cotton and Julius Mattila, so it was good to see him get on the board early to reward the coaching staff for their confidence in him. Logan Hutsko (the only returning member from last season’s first line) picked up the primary assist on the goal while freshman Eamon Powell picked up the first point of his college career with a secondary assist. Spencer Knight looked particularly sharp, making a few big stops late in the period to keep the Eagles up 1-0 heading into intermission.
UMass tied things up early in the second period, scoring a shorthanded goal just under two minutes in. Knight was beaten on a quick shot off the rush that may have surprised him a bit as BC really struggled to get set up on their man advantage. The score didn’t stay tied for long, as BC finally managed to get set up late in the power play and put together a brilliant passing play that ended in a goal from Mike Hardman. Hardman slid the puck through the five hole from the slot after taking a nice feed from Matt Boldy just as the power play was expiring. Hutsko picked up his second point of the night with a cross ice pass to Boldy that got the whole play started and the Eagles regained their lead.
McBain scored his second of the night with just over seven minutes to go in the period, firing an absolute laser of a shot from the slot to give BC a 3-1 lead. McBain took a stretch pass from freshman linemate Nikita Nesterenko, came to an abrupt stop to create space from a defender, and ripped a shot to the high blocker side that UMass goalie Matt Murray never had a chance to stop. UMass got back in the game shortly thereafter, scoring a power play goal with 4:55 left in the period on a redirected shot from the point. They tied things up just about a minute later, scoring off of a cycle and a nice pass that took Knight completely out of the play. There were a few more chances in the last few minutes of the period, including a semi breakaway attempt by BC freshman Colby Ambrosio, but no more scoring and a five goal second period ended with the teams tied at three.
The Eagles jumped right back into the lead in the third period when Matt Boldy fired a wrist shot over Murray’s glove just over a minute into the period. Eamon Powell made a great stretch pass to Colby Ambrosio who touched the puck on to a streaking Boldy. Boldy loaded up and snapped a perfect shot into the top corner to put BC up 4-3. Boldy also probably saved a goal when UMass went on the power play about halfway through the period. A UMass player had a wide open net to shoot at when a loose puck came out from behind the net, but Boldy made a diving play and managed to get his stick in the way to force the shot wide. UMass ended up with another power play chance shortly after that, but BC was able to hold them off and make Boldy’s goal stand up as the game winner.
It was an encouraging that a BC team that lost so much after last season could dive right into the deep end and come away with a win over a good UMass team. There were positives (McBain getting off to a hot start, Boldy looking fantastic, some really strong five-on-five play) and some causes for concern (power play struggles, basically playing the entire game using only four defensemen) but overall, it just felt so good to be back watching this team again. They’ll finish up the weekend series when they play at UMass tomorrow afternoon at 4:30.