Men's Hockey, Sports, Winter, Hockey

No. 1 BC Completes Season Sweep of River Hawks With Crushing 6–1 Win

When No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey faced UMass Lowell in a home and home series in November 2023, the River Hawks’ season appeared to be on the right track. UMass Lowell boasted a 4–2 record entering the two-game series against then-No. 1 BC, and gave the Eagles a run for their money in both tilts, falling by just one score in each, 3–2. 

But nearly three months later, the River Hawks’ season appeared to have fallen apart, while the Eagles have remained at the top of the NCAA standings. With the Beanpot just a few days after BC’s matchup with UMass Lowell, it could have been easy for the Eagles to take the night off. But in the third matchup of the season, BC did not hold back on the River Hawks, handing them their fifth straight loss and completing the season sweep. 

“Everyone said the right things all week,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “But you never know how it goes, so, they did a great job, and they were, like you could see on the bench right away, they weren’t looking toward Monday. So that was reassuring.”

On Friday night in Tsongas Center, the Eagles (19–4–1, 12–3–1 Hockey East) got the scoring started early and never let up, defeating UMass Lowell (7–17–2, 3–11–1) 6–1 to earn their fifth-straight win.

BC asserted its offensive dominance early in the tilt when graduate transfer Jack Malone found himself on a breakaway after a UMass Lowell turnover. Malone skated down the left side of the ice, dribbling the puck as he made his way toward the River Hawks’ goaltender, Henry Welsch. Malone fired a wrist shot that beat Welsch 5:55 into the first period, and he glided past the goal line to celebrate his seventh goal of the season. 

“Guys were helping each other with support, but also calling out plays that should be made on the ice,” Brown said. “When you have that energy and that focus, you feel like you’re gonna do a lot of things right, and then Malone got us started with a good block and goal.”

Less than three minutes later, the referees called Mitchell Becker for an interference penalty, and the Eagles went on the advantage. The River Hawks attempted to kill the penalty, but once Welsch lost his stick, the second BC goal of the night was all but scored. 

Ryan Leonard took the puck from behind the River Hawks’ net and dished it to Will Smith, who sent a cross-ice pass to Gabe Perreault. Perreault took advantage of the stickless Welsch, and launched the puck into the net just inches away from the goal line to give BC a 2–0 lead with 10:22 remaining in the opening frame. 

The River Hawks showed some fight to start the second frame, though, and cut BC’s lead in half 4:38 into the second period. 

But just under a minute after UMass Lowell’s goal, Nick Rhéaume picked up a slashing penalty to give the Eagles their fourth power play of the night. Just 18 seconds into the man-advantage, BC reestablished its two-goal lead. Smith picked up his second assist of the night when he found captain Eamon Powell in the right circle, who launched a spinning one-timer into the back of the net to make it 3–1. 

“Power play had a couple good looks early,” Brown said. “Especially the one we got right after their goal, that was a big momentum switch back toward our side.”

With 4:44 left in the second, BC’s leading goal scorer, Cutter Gauthier, joined the scorers’ circle with his 20th goal of the season. Gauthier received the puck from Powell and launched a long-range shot to make it a 4–1 BC advantage. 

“What we did better from earlier in the year, is when we got up a couple goals, we didn’t get loose,” Brown said. “We stayed, still doing with a lot of the right things to win hockey games, and that’s good to see the growth in our team that way.”

Despite a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity and outshooting BC 20–17 in the second period, UMass Lowell’s defense simply could not stop BC’s scoring and entered the third period with a three-goal deficit.

The third period told the same story, and BC ran up the score to complete the dominant win. 

Gauthier scored his second goal of the game to make it 5–1 with 6:45 left in the game, prompting Brown to pull Jacob Fowler for Jan Korec—the first time all season that Fowler was not between the posts. Leonard capped off the Eagles’ win with his 14th goal of the season with 1:39 remaining, and the Eagles completed the season sweep of UMass Lowell.

“Again, in the third, I thought we didn’t let the game get away … we were doing a lot of the right things, so that’s important if you’re going to have success,” Brown said. 

February 3, 2024