Sports, Hockey, Men's Hockey

Eagles Battle Back After Early Deficit Against Lowell

When No. 13 UMass Lowell put the puck past freshman goalie Spencer Knight for the second time in 71 seconds to open the game, things were not looking good for the Eagles. The two goals by the Riverhawks, one at 36 seconds into the first period and another coming just over 30 seconds after, were the two quickest goals allowed by Boston College men’s hockey so far this season.

But the Eagles were not deterred by UMass Lowell’s quick tallies, fighting back with three unanswered goals of their own to make it 3-2, collecting their first win over the Riverhawks since 2018, and their first win in Lowell since 2012. 

Coming into the game, it was a must win for No. 5 BC (14-5-0, 8-3-0 Hockey East), as the Riverhawks (12-6-4, 6-3-3) stood just one point above it in the conference standings, tied for second place.

Following the two goals by Lowell, BC was forced to up its game and play more aggressively in order to take control and come back from its brief slip-up. The Eagles worked to create chaos in front of the net in an attempt to generate more shots and rebounds against Lowell goalie Tyler Wall. 

Knight also stepped up to the challenge, blocking the remainder of the Riverhawks’ shots after giving up two goals in their first three shots on goal. But despite these efforts, the Eagles were unsuccessful in matching the Riverhawks’ goals by the end of the first frame, entering the locker room down by two goals for the first time all season. 

The second frame began just as the first had ended—the Eagles were fighting to gain momentum against Lowell, and the Riverhawks skated with the intention of extending their lead. And yet, neither team was able to capitalize on the plethora of opportunities laid out before them. Both goalies shut the door on their opponent and expertly defended their own net. That is, until midway through the period.

Sophomore Jack McBain was called for a hooking penalty with just under 10 minutes remaining in the second, putting BC down a man. But, less than a minute after McBain went to the box, sophomore Marc McLaughlin lifted the puck out of BC’s zone, sending it to senior Ron Greco, who began streaking down the ice on a shorthanded breakaway. Wall denied Greco’s initial shot on net, but McLaughlin was there to follow up and collected the rebound, shooting the puck just inside the right post to cut Lowell’s lead in half.

Soon after McBain’s penalty expired, the Eagles were once again shorthanded as senior Jesper Mattila was called for holding. Similarly to their prior penalty kill, BC played an aggressive game, hoping to force a second shorthanded goal against the weak Lowell powerplay. And, shortly after Mattila returned to the ice, the Eagles tied up the game. 

Immediately after the Eagles regained their fifth skater, freshman Alex Newhook raced into the offensive zone with three Lowell players in between him and the goal. Those players, however, were unable to stop Newhook’s rocket of a shot that put the puck just over the glove of Wall and tied the game at 2-2. While the Eagles began to gain momentum following Newhook’s goal, they were unable to put another point on the board before the close of the second period. 

Quickly after the start of the final frame, BC capitalized on that momentum that they had built up in the second period. After captain David Cotton cleared the puck from the Eagles’ own end, junior Logan Hutsko picked up the puck and skated into the Riverhawks’ zone with a Lowell defenseman chasing behind him, trying to catch up. Hutsko beat the defender and one-handed the puck into the net, beating Wall short side, giving the Eagles a 3-2 lead.

Once play continued after Hutsko’s goal, BC had successfully regained its confidence and fought to keep its lead over Lowell to close out the game. And with minimal chances by the Riverhawks to come back and tie the game, the Eagles secured their first win over Lowell in nearly two years.

With the Eagles topping the Riverhawks, BC has moved up to tie Providence for second place behind Massachusetts in the Hockey East Standings. Meanwhile, Lowell has fallen to share fourth place with Northeastern.

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

January 18, 2020