Two weeks ago, when Boston College men’s hockey faced off against then No. 19 Massachusetts Lowell in a home-and-home weekend series, the Eagles were left to rue missed opportunities and a lack of focus. Despite being tied with the River Hawks going into the third period in the first game and nabbing a 3-1 lead entering the final frame of the weekend finale, BC couldn’t find a win in either contest, conceding a combined five goals in the third period to lose 3-1 on Friday and draw 4-4 on Saturday.
Friday night presented the Eagles with an opportunity for redemption against UMass Lowell and the chance to carry a three-game winning streak into the Beanpot Championship against Northeastern on Monday. That prospect lasted all of one period. After a scoreless first, the River Hawks slotted three goals home in the second period, coasting to a comfortable 3-0 win over BC.
UMass Lowell (16-8-2, 10-4-2 Hockey East) jumped on the offensive at the outset, firing nine shots at the Eagles’ (10-13-3, 9-5-3) net in the opening six minutes of the game. BC’s defense was up to the challenge, though, as Michael Karow managed to deflect a shot from Ryan Lohin wide, while Joseph Woll stood strong, saving attempts from Chris Schutz and Jon McDonald. For most of the first period, in fact, the Eagles were happy to put their bodies on the line. BC blocked five shots in the first frame, helping Woll out and giving the Eagles’ offense chances to find a goal.
Unfortunately for head coach Jerry York, BC’s skaters simply couldn’t find a way past River Hawks netminder Tyler Wall, who stood up to shots from Michael Kim and David Cotton with the first period winding down. And, even when Wall couldn’t reach the puck, he got some help, as the post denied Jesper Mattila a potential opening goal just a couple minutes before the horn blew for the end of the first period.
The Eagles had the first good opportunity of the second period too, when Nick Master took the first penalty of the game three minutes and 30 seconds into the frame. BC used the one-man advantage to pepper the UMass Lowell goal with four shots, but Wall turned them away each time. Once the teams were back to even strength, however, the River Hawks wasted no time capitalizing on the mediocre Eagles power play.
Oliver Wahlstrom whipped a shot wide and the puck was cleared into the BC defensive zone. UMass Lowell pressed high up the ice and forced a turnover. Chase Blackmun scooped up possession in the slot, sliced toward goal and slid a pass over to Ryan Dmowski for an easy finish past an out-of-position Woll. Six minutes into the second period, the Eagles’ impressive defensive resolve to start the game had all gone to waste.
Four minutes later, the BC deficit was two due to some misfortune. Eight minutes into the period, Charlie Levesque was sent to the box for hooking, giving the Eagles another opportunity for extended pressure in the River Hawks’ zone. Yet, once again, BC failed to generate good scoring opportunities, and this time UMass Lowell didn’t even wait for to get a fifth skater back on the ice before punishing the Eagles.
After the River Hawks cleared the puck, Nick Marin managed to pick it up along the extended left goal line, before dumping the puck on net. Woll, fresh off a strong performance in the Beanpot semifinal, looked to have it covered, but lost the puck, and it snuck across the red line, giving UMass Lowell a fortuitous second goal.
There was nothing lucky about the third goal, which came three minutes after the second. Kenny Hausinger skated into the left circle in BC’s offensive zone before sliding a pass across the seam to an uncovered Ryan Lohin, who tapped it home for a 3-0 lead. In the span of seven minutes, all the Eagles’ efforts had been erased.
BC needed a response quickly, but frustration appeared to get the best of it, as Jack McBain and Luke McInnis both took penalties within the same minute to kill any thoughts the Eagles had of grabbing a goal before heading back to the locker room dissolved.
The third frame was much the same story, as BC couldn’t beat Wall—who finished with 28 saves and a shutout. The Eagles outshot the River Hawks, 12-5, in the period, but the junior turned away consecutive shots from Wahlstrom before stonewalling Christopher Grando and Patrick Giles as BC’s last-ditch comeback attempt went begging.
Again, the Eagles showed they have the talent to hang with quality opposition—UMass Lowell currently holds the No. 15 spot in the USCHO poll—but simply can’t get going on the offensive end when it matters most. BC scores the fourth-fewest goals per game in Hockey East, a season after it ranked fifth in the conference by the same metric. On Friday, the Eagles again struggled to put consistent pressure on the River Hawks’ net, even on the power play, in what was a microcosm of their 2018-19 campaign thus far. They’ll have to come up with solutions fast. After all, a Beanpot Championship against Northeastern looms on Monday.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor