Top Story, Men's Hockey

In First Game Since Lohan Injury, Defense Lifts Men’s Hockey Over UMass

Over Winter Break, Boston College men’s hockey received unfortunate news. Defenseman Michael Campoli announced his departure for the Penticton Vees, a junior hockey team in British Columbia. It wasn’t much of a surprise to (or loss for) the program, though. Campoli, a Pointe-Claire, Quebec native who holds dual citizenship and was a member of the United States National Development Team Program, participated in just 12 games over his two-year career. His playing time only decreased as a sophomore with the arrival of graduate transfer Kevin Lohan.

But, in a freak incident last weekend, that depth dissipated. Several men attacked Lohan at a Domino’s on Boylston St., causing the 6-foot-5 Michigan defector to break his jaw. Video of the assault shows the fight between Lohan and several men—according to The Boston Globe, his girlfriend, who was with him at the time, claims the attack was entirely unprovoked.

“It’s been tough without Kevin, obviously,” said team captain Casey Fitzgerald. “He’s a rock back there. Although he’s not the flashiest guy, he continues to be one of our most valuable players on the back end.”

In Lohan’s absence, Michael Karow stepped up to a full-on starting role. And, in its first game without Lohan—and first contest in nine days—BC’s blue line more than made up for the adversity it has faced. With a stellar defensive effort, the Eagles took down visiting Massachusetts and its highly touted freshman class, 2-1, to temporarily regain the Hockey East lead over Northeastern.

“I think all six of our [current] defensemen are capable of helping us take down pretty good hockey programs,” head coach Jerry York said, noting that Lohan had surgery to repair his broken jaw. “Even without [Lohan] in the lineup, I feel pretty confident in those six as long as we can keep them healthy.”

No. 16 BC (12-9-3, 12-4-0 Hockey East) got off to a questionable start defensively, with goaltender Joseph Woll scrambling out of position. But after that, the Eagles settled down against UMass (11-12-1, 5-8-1) in the first period. One highlight defensive play was turned in by Jesper Mattila. The Finnish blue liner chased down Marco Bozzo on a 2-on-1 breakaway in which Woll ducked and appeared ready for the inevitable snipe. He broke up the shot from behind, wasting UMass’s only chance. that period. In total, the Minutemen amassed just five shots in the frame.

Then, BC’s blue line turned to the offense. The Eagles earned the first power play of the game on an Austin Plevy slash. Some solid puck movement by the Eagles’s top power-play unit didn’t lead to anything in front of Matt Murray. But when BC pushed it back to the outside, it paid dividends. Connor Moore found Jesper Mattila streaking into the slot with Aapeli Rasanen screening in front. Mattila knocked the puck in off Murray’s glove up high. And UMass head coach Matt Carvel wasn’t pleased with his team’s opening effort.

“I thought the first period we were very fortunate to only come away down a goal,” Carvel said. “That was easily our worst period of the year.” As for the goal, and whether or not Murray had a good look at it: “You’ll have to ask him. I saw it.”

The defense showed its one sliver of weakness after a Graham McPhee tripping call. On the ensuing change following the penalty’s conclusion, Brett Boeing beat out Michael Karow along the far boards, extending his stick just far enough to push the puck over to John Leonard. The Amherst, Mass. native worked around Luke McInnis in front of Woll to push the puck past him.

Ten minutes later, the Eagles retook the lead on a beautiful goal by a freshman of their own: Logan Hutsko. Unassisted, Hutsko streaked down the far boards on a 2-on-1 break. Hutsko waited and waited, dangling the puck in front of Mario Ferraro. Behind Ferraro was David Cotton, slapping his stick against the ice. As York explained, Cotton’s widening out behind Ferraro helped him open up a clearer lane for Hutsko. Once Ferraro backed off, Hutsko fired for the go-ahead goal.

“That’s just a goal-scorer’s goal—he’s a great player,” Fitzgerald said, referring to Hutsko and Cotton’s teamwork. “That’s nothing they drew up, that’s just instincts.”

By the third period, the team shut down any attempt at a UMass comeback. The Eagles controlled the puck in the offensive zone for large chunks of the final frame, which prevented the Minutemen from getting quality chances. By the final push on a 6-on-5, Woll stood tall to secure the victory.

“A lot of guys stepped up tonight and knew we had to come together as a team and really step up and play for Kevin,” Fitzgerald said of his defense. “Everyone just did their jobs and closed gaps and kept it simple and helped out Joe tonight.”

Featured Image by Tiger Tao / Heights Staff

January 23, 2018