After a quiet week for Boston College men’s hockey, BC met with Hockey East rival Massachusetts Lowell for its first matchup in six days. It was the first meeting between the two teams this season, with Friday night’s contest serving as the start of a home-and-home series. Despite holding a 66-41-9 all-time advantage against the No. 19 River Hawks, the Eagles have struggled against their neighbors in recent seasons. Friday night was no different, as they fell to UMass Lowell, 3-1.
Despite the tough loss, BC (8-11-1, 8-3-2 Hockey East) head coach Jerry York was impressed with his team—specifically Joe Woll—who until Friday afternoon, was unsure if he was going to play.
“For being really, really sick Thursday, in doubt, [Woll] stood up and played another solid game for us in goal,” he said. “We went up until three o’clock unsure if he was going to play. He rallied. I don’t think he was 100 percent, but he played very well.”
The River Hawks took charge early and kept the puck in BC territory. The first time the Eagles were able to break away initially appeared promising, but it resulted in an early penalty for BC. After Chris Brown and UMass Lowell’s Nolan Sawchuk fought for possession, Sawchuk collided with the glass, causing Brown to be whistled for interference. The River Hawks wasted no time with the advantage and settled in around Woll. The pressure proved too much for the Eagles, and Reid Stefanson was able to sneak the puck past the experienced goaltender halfway through the penalty.
Not long after the River Hawk’s first goal, the Eagles found themselves again on the defense. After a string of shots on Woll, Jesper Mattila took a puck to the side of his knee, in attempt to record a block, and struggled to leave the ice. He didn’t return for the remainder of the period. Soon after, BC had a chance for revenge after Sawchuck was sent to the box for hooking Marc McLaughlin in front of Tyler Wall. Yet the Eagles failed to connect throughout the power play, and, after two minutes, UMass Lowell still maintained its one-goal lead.
Tensions increased as the period wound down. Jack McBain collided with Ryan Lohin in the circle and was immediately called for interference. Left in a heap on the ice, the junior needed to be helped up by Mattias Goransson and escorted back to the bench. After the collision, McBain knew he was caught red-handed and didn’t hesitate to go to the box. The play was reviewed for a possible hit to the head but was eventually called as interference.
David Cotton nearly logged a shorthanded goal, but his shot was just wide of the goal, and after two minutes, the Eagles were able to kill off the penalty. As the period closed, BC put more pressure on the River Hawks, but it couldn’t find a hole in the defense, and the Eagles went into the locker room without a goal to their name.
The second period began much like the first, with the River Hawks putting heavy pressure on the Eagles’ defense. The pressure came to a boiling point when J.D. Dudek skated into Ryan Dmowski, who slid into the post of the cage, knocking it off its stand, resulting in an interference call. A visibly frustrated Dudek made his way to the box, and after the referees discussed the play, the call stood.
After returning to full strength, BC continued to bombard Wall, but the senior was impossible to crack. Following 35 minutes without a score, the Eagles were finally able to best the senior. After returning from his first-period injury, Mattila created a golden opportunity for BC. The junior intercepted a pass and sent it to McBain, who was able to get through traffic and send the puck past Wall for a second-period equalizer.
Right after BC’s first goal, McLaughlin broke away. As he chased the puck down the ice, Goransson caught up to him and sent him into the glass. While he robbed the Eagles of another scoring opportunity, he was whistled for cross-checking. Despite the advantage, BC couldn’t connect and headed into the second break tied with the River Hawks.
After the first five minutes of the final frame, UMass Lowell took lead for good, thanks to Dmowski, who capitalized on a BC turnover and ripped a shot from the circle past Woll. Then, Michael Kim was whistled for elbowing after colliding with Colin O’Neill. Like McBain’s previous penalty, Kim’s was reviewed for a possible hit to the head, but the call stood as a minor penalty, which BC was able to kill off.
Not long after the Eagles regained full strength, Connor Sodergren was called for his own elbowing penalty. Despite spending the majority of the power play in front of Wall, BC couldn’t connect and remained one goal behind UMass Lowell. The final 10 minutes saw little action, and BC pulled Woll from the frame with a minute and a half left in the matchup. Following his departure, UMass Lowell called a timeout which gave both teams a chance to regroup. Despite the extra player, BC couldn’t find an equalizer, and Stefanson eventually broke free from defenders for an empty net goal to lock in the River Hawks’ 3-1 victory, their sixth straight.
“We expect more of the same tomorrow, hard-fought, physical, grinding, grinding type of hockey game.” York said of the home-and-home series. “We just have to be a little sharper, a little cleaner in the offensive zone with our passes.”
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor