Winter, Hockey, Sports

Five Unanswered First-Period Goals Propel Eagles Over UMass  

Some college sports fan bases might get fatigued after a season that hasn’t lived up to expectations. But the 5,328 fans that showed up to Conte Forum for Boston College men’s hockey’s late-season tilt against in-state foe UMass Amherst got to see one of the best periods in recent memory. 

The first period of the game featured five unanswered goals from the Eagles—something they haven’t accomplished in nearly three years. And despite losing the second period goal battle, and tying the third period goal battle, BC (11–12–6, 6–8–5 Hockey East) captured its second straight victory with a 7–3 win over the Minutemen (10–14–5, 4–13–3).   

BC’s first goal of the night showed off Colby Ambrosio’s elite skill and speed when the second liner entered the zone without letting the puck touch anything other than his stick or the back of the net. 

After 7:48 passed in the first frame, Ambrosio shielded the puck to his left side after crossing the blue line and drove to the net, flipping his shot over Minuteman goaltender Luke Pavicich’s glove. 

The second goal—scored just over six minutes later—showcased a forechecking masterclass. First, Liam Izyk didn’t give up on the puck after his linemates had left the zone by forcing a turnover and taking the puck to the net for the next bunch of linemates to comfortably skate out. 

The fourth line then took over, chipping pucks and blocking clears to keep the action in the zone in hopes of handing it off to the first line to try to let them score. But that wasn’t necessary after Mike Posma called his own number and found Pavicich’s five-hole, making it 2–0. 

“The guys were so excited and fired up on the bench for that [fourth] line,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “They give us an honest effort every night so you love to see when they’re rewarded like that.”

Nikita Nesterenko scored BC’s third goal—a mirror image of Ambrosio’s goal—taking it down the right side untouched and roofing the puck behind Pavicich. 

Oskar Jellvik and veteran blueliner Marshall Warren—who was paired with Eamon Powell because the Eagles were playing with five defensemen—scored the final two goals of the first frame. 

Warren sniped the top corner to put the Eagles up 5–0 with 1:26 left to play in the first frame.

The last time the Eagles scored five goals in a period was on Feb. 21, 2020, when they netted six in the second period of a contest against Northeastern. 

“I thought we just moved our feet better in the first period, much better than we had been,” Brown said. “A lot of times we’ve been settling into games. And when things get urgent, we’ve been responding well, but it’s nice to start with that urgency right away.”

The second period included seven combined penalties between the teams and a pair of goals for UMass’ Matt Koopman. 

UMass’ Taylor Makar received a five-minute major which looked promising for the Eagles, but two penalties on BC’s Trevor Kuntar and Aidan Hreschuk nullified the power play until roughly the last minute. 

Both teams scored a goal in that minute. A snipe from Nesterenko increased the Eagles’ lead to six, but UMass got one back when Jellvik slipped bringing the puck up the ice to start the rush and Koopman converted a free 2-on-0 chance.

In a period of 4-on-4 play after a penalty on each team late in the second period, Koopman found the net for the second time when he put the puck past BC goaltender Mitch Benson from a scrum in front of the net at the 14:32 mark.

Benson nearly let in a late-period goal when Cal Kiefiuk put the puck over him, but the netminder managed to pin the puck to the pipe with his glove, stopping UMass from cutting the deficit going into the final frame.

The Minutemen, however, cut the lead to a three-goal deficit in the final frame when Kenny Connors scored at the 11:08 mark. But Nesterenko answered less than a minute later to complete his hat trick and hold the Minutemen at bay.

“Good overall team win tonight,” Nesterenko said. “The reloads were great. The box outs were great.” 

The Eagles only have five games remaining in the season, one that includes another go against UMass on Saturday night in Amherst.

“You want to play your best hockey down the stretch and find ways to win,” Brown said. “There’s no moral victories at this time.”

February 18, 2023