Sports, Winter, Hockey

Eagles Rattle Off Three-Straight Goals to Defeat UMass 3–1

After breaking out and recording its second-highest scoring game of the season on Friday night against UMass Amherst, Boston College men’s hockey found itself back in a close, low-scoring affair Saturday night against the Minutemen on the road.

Despite being down one goal after the opening period, the Eagles (12–12–6, 7–8–5 Hockey East) rallied back to score three unanswered goals en route to a victory in Amherst, defeating UMass (10–15–5, 4–13–3) by a score of 3–1.

BC couldn’t replicate its five-goal first period from Friday, as the Eagles failed to get a shot past UMass goaltender Cole Brady, who started his first game since Nov. 12. Brady denied all eight of the Eagles’ shots he faced in the period, including many grade-A chances from BC’s top tier forwards.

UMass scored the opening goal of the game at the 8:33 mark when a point shot by Kenny Connors got through traffic, but Micahel Cameron redirected the shot into the back of the BC goal. Cameron’s ninth goal of the season put UMass ahead 1–0, and the Minutemen remained up by one heading into the second period.

“You’re not going to get a start like that all the time,” BC coach Greg Brown said about Saturday’s start compared to Friday’s. “We were moving as well offensively, but not getting to the inside. It looked like some good hockey, but it was not dangerous hockey.”

The Eagles struggled to generate much offense to start the second period, with the Minutemen controlling most of the period’s scoring opportunities. Marshall Warren drew a tripping penalty with 5:09 to play in the period, but BC’s power play failed to capitalize. Trevor Kuntar received a chance after picking up a loose puck on a UMass turnover near the goal, but Brady stopped him.

BC faced another man advantage in the final minute of the second period, and this time, the Eagles made the most of their chance. Kuntar redirected a Cutter Gauthier shot-pass over the shoulder of Brady and into the back of the net to tie the game at one with 21 seconds left in the second.

The Eagles didn’t stop there, as they managed to take the lead with 13:25 to go in the game on Kuntar’s second goal of the night. Kuntar carried the puck down the right wing, skated around UMass defenseman Scott Morrow, made a slick net front move, and slotted the puck past Brady to put BC up 2–1. 

“Trevor plays with a lot of heart and soul,” Brown said. “He leads in the room and by example.  You are always happy when you see him rewarded because he’s such a big part of our team.”

Kuntar has shined since his move up to the top line alongside Gauthier and Andre Gasseau, scoring five goals in his last six games.

“Trevor plays with a lot of heart and soul,” Brown said. “He leads in the room and by example.  You are always happy when you see him rewarded because he’s such a big part of our team.”

And exactly three minutes later, the Eagles doubled their lead. The puck bounced favorably off the endboards right onto the stick of Connor Joyce, who fired a shot into the net before Brady could react.

It had appeared that Kuntar completed the hat trick on the power play with 4:57 to go, but officials ruled him offside after a UMass challenge.

“I was very pleased with the way we responded in the third when it was a tie game,” Brown said.  “It was a good finish for us.”

BC netminder Mitch Benson stood tall in the third period, stopping 14 shots in the period and 24 shots throughout the entire game.

“He’s had a great presence the whole year,” Brown said of Benson. “He is an older, experienced guy. We relied on him not only for great goaltending but also, he sets the tone back there. He’s never rattled. He’s never throwing his body side to side. He’s always in control and our team feeds off that.”

February 19, 2023