If the Massachusetts hockey team had been able to stay out of the box, the outcome of this game may have been very different than the final 4-1 win by #6 Boston College. To the surprise of many (or me at least), this game started out as a defensive struggle. Both teams did really well in minimizing their opponents chances and preventing shots from getting to their respective goaltenders, Henry Dill for UMass and Thatcher Demko for BC. At the end of the period the shots were only 6-3 in BC’s favor. That represented a dramatic improvement for the UMass defense which had allowed 14 first period shots and 42 total to the Northeastern Huskies on the prior night.
Unfortunately circumstances changed in the second and the game slowly started to get away from UMass at that point. What was a physical game in the first turned into a chippy game in the second in what I thought was mostly initiated by the more experienced and well, larger Eagle players. The Minutemen tried to respond in kind and unfortunately were unable to do so without crossing the line and picking up a host of penalties. The festivities started six minutes in when UMass’s Anthony Petrella and BC’s Ryan Fitzgerald went back and forth with a hook and slash. Steven Iacobellis and Alex Tuch got a couple of roughing penalties about a minute later. The positive from this sequence was that UMass looked to be the better team four on four. BC would pick up their first goal while at even strength at 14:15 from Tuch, which was followed shortly after by an interference call on Emerson Auvenshine. On the subsequent penalty kill Jake Horton took an unnecessary slashing penalty and BC would capitalize with a five on three goal from Adam Gilmour . UMass was never really able to get back in the game after that.
In the third things continued to get heated with a lot of activity after the whistle and UMass appeared to be thrown off rhythm by it. A little over ten minutes in Troy Power went into the boards on Matt Gaudreau and received a five minute major and game misconduct for an elbowing penalty. Horton would again take another bad penalty on the subsequent penalty kill, this time a high stick, and Gilmour had his second two man advantage goal of the night to put the Eagles up 3-0. Spending so much time on the penalty kill prevented the Minutemen from getting in sync on offense in the final period though and they didn’t end up getting on the scoreboard until 17:48 in on a Shane Walsh power play goal. BC would add the empty net goal to seal their win shortly after.
There were some definite positives to take from the game. The team defense played early on was very impressive for a defensive unit that includes just two upperclassmen, three underclassmen and a converted forward in Auvenshine. UMass fans should also feel good that the team battled. They fought for themselves, they fought for their teammates, and did not allow themselves to get pushed around by a bigger, veteran BC squad. If the inexperienced UMass team was intimidated, it didn’t show. Still, going forward the team will have to learn how to be physical but not put yourself at a disadvantage. Some of the roughing type of penalties can be tolerable in a game like last night. Two stick infractions to give the opponent a couple five on three opportunities is not however. If the game turns into a learning opportunity, then I don’t think the loss will mean a lot in the long run. Sure it’s never enjoyable to sit through another loss at Conte Forum, but that disappointed feeling was nothing a couple of post game beers at Publick House couldn’t cure. Two weekend road trips, two states, two splits. I’ll take it. Up next, Orono.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Shane Walsh
Not only did Walsh have the lone goal for the Minutemen but he was a team best 11 for 17 in the faceoff circle.
Goal by goal BC point of view from BC Interruption, including the Walsh goal.