Sports, Winter, Hockey, Men's Hockey

No. 1 BC Captures Series Sweep Over River Hawks With Second Straight 3–2 Win

Right off the opening faceoff of Boston College men’s hockey’s fourth power play of Saturday’s game, the Eagles’ top unit set up. Gabe Perreault skated in front of the net with the puck, and Cutter Gauthier stood halfway up the slot. 

Perreault passed the puck to Gauthier, who passed it back to Perreault. Rather than forcing the play, the freshman forward opted for the more patient route. Perreault passed it back to Gauthier, who passed it again to Perreault—the fourth pass between the two in the sequence. 

It was at this point that Perreault finally got the look that he wanted—a look he’s seen a lot over the last couple of years. Fellow freshman forward—and teammate prior to BC—Will Smith sat at the back post wide open. The River Hawks’ defense had collapsed upon two of the other first-round draft picks on BC’s power play, and Smith looked hungry. 

Perreault directed the puck over to Smith, who made no mistake of putting it past UMass Lowell goaltender Luke Pavicich to give BC a 2–1 lead and its second power-play goal of the night. 

The No. 1 Eagles (7–1–0, 2–0–0 Hockey East) defeated UMass Lowell (4–4–0, 1–3–0) 3–2 thanks to power-play goals by Gauthier and Smith, as well as a 28-save performance from rookie netminder Jacob Fowler. 

“As expected, another great battle with Lowell,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “I feel like it’s always a one-goal game. It always comes down to the end, and we were fortunate to stave off their last push. They played very well.”

The first period featured six penalties, three called on each side. The most consequential of these penalized UMass Lowell’s Brehdan Engum 10:31 into the frame.  

Engum hit Ryan Leonard knee to knee, resulting in an ejection from the contest and a five-minute power play for BC. 

Just 1:12 into the power play, Lowell had an opportunity to clear the puck, but couldn’t get it past Perreault, who filtered the puck to Jack Malone in front of the net. Rather than turning and trying to put it past Pavicich, Malone passed the puck to Gauthier out wide, who gave Pavicich no chance with a fierce one-timer. 

“I mean, it’s the mental side,” Brown said of Gauthier. “He is ready all the time. He’s ready to get a shot on net. He finds openings to get space. But he’s looking before he shoots so he sees if he thinks there’s a stick that’s free in front of the net, he’s shooting for that stick a lot.” 

It looked as though BC’s one-goal advantage would hold into the first intermission, but UMass Lowell had other ideas. 

River Hawk forward Jak Vaarwerk took the puck in the corner, turned, and fired a perfect centering pass to Jack Collins, who slid the puck past Fowler with just eight seconds left in the period for his first collegiate goal. 

“I thought we managed the puck better, but we still had some turnovers that led to some chaotic trips in our own zone,” Brown said.

BC retook the lead on a Smith put-back shot 4:04 into the second period, capitalizing on the 5-on-3 opportunity. Officials called a penalty on UMass Lowell for having too many men on the ice while already on the penalty kill, leading to the two-man advantage. Collins picked up the original penalty with a high stick. 

“Special teams were huge,” Brown said. “Our penalty kill did great all weekend and the power play was able to cash in tonight, so especially when it’s always going to be a one-goal game with Lowell, you have to be ready to do well on the special teams.”

Smith’s goal sent Collins back on the ice, but BC still had another power play. The River Hawks, however, ended up with the best chance on BC’s man advantage. 

Isac Jonsson got open in front of Fowler and tried to tuck it in, but BC’s freshman netminder held the edge to protect BC’s 2–1 lead.

Smith also did the majority of the work on BC’s third goal, skating the puck into the zone and drawing Pavicich out of his net, then dishing a pass to Leonard. Leonard tapped the puck into the open net with 6:37 left in the second frame to put the Eagles ahead 3–1.  

UMass Lowell cut the deficit to one goal with 9:05 left in the third period when Nick Rhéaume backhanded it past Fowler. Although the Eagles held that lead, it certainly wasn’t easy. The River Hawks did not go away in the third period, forcing Fowler to come up with big saves on several occasions. 

“When we did have breakdowns, Jacob [Fowler] played very well in net,” Brown said. 

Fowler was up to the task all night, and BC came out of its first Hockey East series of the year with a sweep—something the Eagles only accomplished once last season, when they won both matchups over UMass in mid-February.

November 5, 2023