Sports, Men's Hockey

Defense Fails As Lowell Buries BC In Opener

Hockey is random, but sometimes it’s pretty fair. In its season opener Friday night, Boston College started poorly and didn’t get much better, and lost 5-2 to UMass Lowell in a rematch of last season’s classic Northeast Regional Final. Besides Lowell prevailing, the rematch differed from April’s classic in a key way: one team dominated throughout.

“I thought Lowell played well,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “They certainly deserved to win the game. Our game became way too complicated … I like a much more simple game … I’m not quite sure why, but it’s a simple game, and once you get away from that, it’s very difficult to play.”

The Eagles opened fire early in the first with a goal delivered by BC’s best skaters all night: the line of Alex Tuch, Chris Calnan and Adam Gilmour. They received their reward when defenseman Teddy Doherty capitalized on a Riverhawks turnover and started a 3-on-2 with Tuch and Calnan. The 220-pound Tuch drove the net enough to knock it off its pegs, but not before Calnan buried a rebound off Doherty’s initial shot.

BC wouldn’t lead again, thanks to sloppy play from its ballyhooed defense. ­­Five minutes after Calnan’s goal, Lowell forward A.J. White turned around Eagles’ captain Mike Matheson and then hit Evan Campbell backdoor to tie it.

“Me and Whitey were able to break down on 2-on-1 there, and he made a great play and I was able to finish it,” Campbell said.

Later in the period, while killing a penalty, Matheson was a step behind the puck until he and McCoshen lost it, and by the time they found it, Michael Fallon beat Demko. Lowell kept the lead and its stranglehold on the game for the duration, scored again before the first was finished—three goals in seven minutes—and that was mostly that.

Ryan Fitzgerald provided a pulse when he picked Lowell defenseman Michael Kapla’s pocket and got his shot through Kevin Boyle’s armpit at the end of the second. That was water for BC in a desert of long stretches without puck possession, penalties, botched power plays, and two horrendous turnovers that Demko had to cover up even though no Lowell player was in the immediate vicinity.

It was still 3-2 in the third, though, when Destry Straight won a defensive zone draw back to McCoshen. McCoshen tossed the puck up the boards before Straight, who normally doesn’t take faceoffs, got to his spot on the half-wall. Lowell forward Ryan McGrath took advantage, intercepting the puck and taking it to the net, where his rebound found an abandoned Robert Francis. Francis scored his first collegiate goal and made it 4-2. The Riverhawks pounced on a mistake, but BC’s defense, its purported strength, killed their chances all game long.

“We were battling back, and I’d like to watch the film a little more, but we won the faceoff to Thatcher’s left [to McCoshen] and there was a turnover resulting in a goal,” York said. “That was kind of a turning point in the game. Trying to get back in it, 3-2, and sometimes on won draws, you still gotta make a play to advance the puck and we didn’t make a play, and they were able to cash in on it.”

Fallon’s goal put the game away and an empty netter sealed it, but Lowell beat BC up and down the ice all game. The hockey gods felt rational Friday night, and the Riverhawks gave BC a loss in the Hockey East standings to go along with a beatdown.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

October 11, 2014