The Boston College men’s hockey team put together one of their best performances of the season on Friday night to knock off Hockey East leading and ninth ranked UMass. The Eagles fell behind in the first but never looked like the lesser team on the night and used some timely goaltending and goals from their big names to come away with a 2-1 win on senior night.
The Eagles played a pretty decent first 20 minutes, all things considered, but still found themselves in a familiar position at the first intermission. It looked like BC had struck first about seven minutes into the period, when Marc McLaughlin took a cross ice pass from Drew Helleson and ripped a one-timer towards the net. The goal light went on, but UMass goalie Matt Murray got across his crease quickly to make the save and keep it a scoreless game. The two teams played pretty evenly for the rest of the period after that, but UMass did get the scoring started with a goal coming with 3:08 left in the period after a pass from the corner got through a few BC defenders and to an open UMass player, who slid it past Dop to put the Eagles behind 1-0 after one.
The two teams continued playing a pretty even game for most of the third, with BC killing off an early power play before coming up empty on two of their own. Nikita Nesterenko hit the post with a sharp angle shot and the Eagles had a few more decent looks, but it wasn’t until late in the period that they were able to beat Murray. It was Trevor Kuntar who got the Eagles on the board with 1:32 left in the period, when he picked up a loose puck just above the circle on the left wing boards. Kuntar found himself with some space and fired a rocket that beat Murray glove side for his night goal of the season to tie things up at 1-1 headed into the third period.
The Eagles continued their strong play early in the third period, when Jack McBain scored just 28 seconds in on a carryover power play to give BC a 2-1 lead. McBain’s 17th goal of the season came on a tip in to an empty net off of a great pass from Jack St. Ivany and lead to some more strong shifts to start the period. The Eagles turned in a fantastic defensive effort after that, shutting down UMass for long stretches. UMass ended up pulling their goalie late and did put some pressure on BC, including a play that looked like a sure goal with just seconds left that ended with Dop making a sprawling save. UMass did put the puck in right around the buzzer, but a quick review showed that it was after time had expired and BC came out with a 2-1 win.
If Sunday’s win over BU felt like Eric Dop saving a game (and it did), this was the full team effort that we’ve been looking for for a while. BC played three very strong periods against a really good opponent and grinded out a 2-1 win. For the season, it probably doesn’t mean a whole lot, as the Eagles are going to need a Hockey East Tournament win to have a shot at the NCAA tournament. But for one game and as a sendoff to the seniors, this was about as good as we could have hoped for. BC will close out the regular season tomorrow night with another game against UMass.