Entering its matchup against No. 13 UMass Lowell on Tuesday, Boston College men’s hockey was up against the physical toll that comes with playing its third game in five days.
BC (4–4–2, 4–3–1 Hockey East) lived up to the task on Tuesday and persevered through its challenging schedule, earning its second consecutive victory with a 3–2 win over UMass Lowell (7–4–0, 4–2–0).
Cutter Gauthier, the No. 5 pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, opened the scoring for the Eagles just over six minutes into the first period. The freshman carried the puck into the offensive zone after taking a pass from Colby Ambrosio.
Gauthier whipped a shot from the left faceoff dot under the glove of UMass Lowell goaltender Henry Welsch. The goal was Gauthier’s sixth of the season, and it extended his point streak to four games.
“I thought [Gauthier] had a lot of really good decisions,” said BC head coach Greg Brown. “He was trying to play to win the game.”
After some sustained puck possession by UMass Lowell, BC worked the puck out of its own zone and doubled its lead on a goal from Connor Joyce. Defenseman Lukas Gustafsson floated the puck toward the net where Mike Posma was waiting to redirect it.
Welsch came up with the initial save, but Joyce found the rebound and elevated it into the back of the net to give the Eagles a 2–0 lead.
BC goaltender Mitch Benson kept a clean sheet in the first frame, coming up with key saves to keep the River Hawks off the board. He registered 19 saves during the first period.
“[Benson] looked solid the whole night,” Brown said. “He looked like he was under control. Pucks weren’t just hitting him. He was seeing them right into his body.”
But the River Hawks finally solved Benson at the start of the second period on their 23rd shot of the game. About a minute into the period, defenseman Ben Meehan skated around the left circle before slotting a pass toward the middle of the ice for Owen Cole to tap in.
The River Hawks were the quicker team in the second period, which allowed them to find the equalizer with 7:10 left in the frame.
Zach Kaiser took the puck up the left side on a rush and found some space before sniping a shot past Benson’s globe. The goal was Kaiser’s fourth of the season and tied the score at two apiece.
“They do such a good job making the ice small and covering up and being solid through the neutral zone and the [defensive] zone,” Brown said of the River Hawks.
The game headed into the third period tied 2–2. Puck possession continued to go back and forth in the initial minutes of the final period until officials called Gabe Blanchard for an interference penalty, which put the Eagles on their first power play of the game.
This opportunity proved to be critical when Oskar Jellvik capitalized on a chance and put BC ahead 3–2. Jellvik skillfully evaded Meehan at the blue line before moving toward the middle of the ice and firing a shot into the top of the net.
“I just came down and saw the net, so I decided to shoot it,” Jellvik said about his first collegiate goal.
The game-winner was another encouraging sign for the Eagles’ power-play unit, which has scored a goal in eight of its 10 games this season.
“We have been playing with more pace,” Brown said. “I think that’s the key [to power plays]. You’ve got to keep the puck moving and have a real pace so that the penalty killing can’t find the passing lanes.”
The River Hawks had a few chances in the final minutes of regulation, but many of their shots went high or wide of the net.
“We had to dig and find that [energy], and the guys kind of started to rally around that and get themselves up in between the second and third [period],” Brown said. “They came out, and I thought our third was our most solid period.”