Given the fact that, except the Providence weekend, UMass had been playing better hockey since winter break ended and Boston University had been struggling as of late, there was a good chance the Minutemen could come away with a close win on Friday. Instead the 7,000+ UMass fans were treated to a total thrashing of the #11 Terriers. The star of the game was Mike Pereira who had one of his best performances in his college career.
The game was pretty even for much of the first period but it was Pereira who got things going with an excellent pass across the slot to set up Branden Gracel with just a few minutes left to give UMass the 1-0 lead. The second period was all about defense for the Minutemen as the Terriers were able to generate just one shot on Kevin Boyle who played well in his first start in a few weeks. In the couple decades of watching UMass hockey I cannot remember them ever holding a ranked team to a single shot in a period and that obviously speaks highly to the job that was done defensively on Friday. The defense was just as good on the special teams where they kept BU’s power play off the scoreboard and limited them to three shots with the extra man.
One of those defensemen who performed well was Mike Busillo who returned to the lineup and appeared to score his first goal late in the second. As it turned out the puck was tipped in by Kevin Czepiel, scoring his first goal of the season, and the Minutemen led 2-0 after two. It was nice to see Busillo back in the lineup as he’s been a reliable defensemen all season, supported by the fact that the team is now 9-6-1 when he dresses and just 1-6-1 when he doesn’t.
The final frame turned into The Mike Pereira Show. Five minutes in he made another quality pass that led to a UMass goal, this time to Conor Sheary who put home a one timer from the top of the slot. Midway through the period Pereira had the wherewithal to grab a loose puck sitting in one of of the faceoff circles and turn and shoot the puck behind BU goaltender Sean Maguire in one motion. Pereira would cap off his excellent night a couple minutes later while fore-checking on the penalty kill he pickpocketed Mike Nieto and streaked in for a breakaway goal. BU’s Ben Rosen would pick up a short-handed goal late, just off a faceoff, ending Boyle’s bid at a shutout. He did improve to a winning record of 8-7-2 however with the big win.
UMass deserves a lot of credit for the total domination shown over a ranked team. But it’s also important to note that this was a BU team that was already struggling, losing four of their previous eight including one to Northeastern. For UMass this was exactly the type of game they needed as they begin the always grueling February stretch. With the lack of a game last night they’re able to get a little more rest before a couple games against Merrimack and Northeastern next weekend. The win combined with other results around the league gave the Minutemen a three point lead over Vermont in 8th and four points ahead of Maine who are trying to get back into the playoff picture. Lowell and 6th place is still within striking distance, three points ahead and a big home and home just two weeks away.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Mike Pereira
Two goals, two assists on a couple nifty passes, and a +5 for the night. Certainly a career night for him.
Dick Baker has the recap for the Republican.
Here are the Takeaways from College Hockey News.