On October 19th UMass brought a 3-0 lead into the third period against Boston College. After giving up a couple early goals in the final stanza Darren Rowe scored for the Minutemen to put them up 4-2 with just over 10 minutes left. But a couple Eagle goals late sent the game into overtime where BC would eventually get the win. A couple weeks later against the Eagles UMass had a 2-1 lead early in the third but again couldn’t hold on and fell 3-2. Last night UMass went into the third with a 2-1 lead, looking for their first win at Conte Forum since 2007. So when UMass brought another 2-1 lead into the final period last night many Minuteman fans were expecting to see BC come back to tie it up, which is exactly what happened just over four minutes in when Steve Whitney scored. What wasn’t expected was with under seven minutes left UMass would score three goals in just over three minutes and shock the #2 Eagles by the score of 5-2.
At the beginning of the game you never would’ve thought it would end with UMass taking a three goal win. In fact it looked like the Eagles could’ve been up three goals after the first few minutes alone. The officiating crew of Tim Bennedetto and Kevin Keenan rewarded BC with 5 minutes of power play time in the first 9 minutes of the game, four straight penalties called against the Minutemen. The Eagles used that opportunity to pepper Steve Mastalerz, making his second straight start, with nine shots on those early power plays and 11 overall during that time. UMass only had two shots on goal in that crucial first nine minutes of the game but when that time period was over it was the Minutemen who had a 1-0 lead thanks to a shorthanded goal by Steven Guzzo after Rocco Carzo stole the puck in the BC zone. Special teams would strike again at the very end of the period when Branden Gracel, clearly the star of the team this season, scored on the power play.
Mastalerz stood on his head to keep the Eagles off the board in the first, facing 14 shots total and turning them all away. Many in spectacular fashion. In the second and third periods the defense in front of him stepped up and were able to limit BC to just 9 shots total in those two periods. But Parker Milner played well on the other end during that time and stopped all 12 UMass shots in that second period. Things were tense after the game was tied in the third but when Mike Pereira scored the go ahead goal with seven minuets left it was all Minutemen thereafter. K.J. Tiefenwerth would score shortly after, no doubt feeling pretty good about helping defeat the school who pulled his spot on their team. Gracel’s second goal of the night finished things off.
Obviously there were of positives to talk about from last night’s game. The defense and Mastalerz played well for the second straight game, withstanding the early power play barrage and limiting chances in the final two periods. Colin Shea really struggled in that first game against Providence last weekend but looked noticeably better last night, even adding a couple of assists. Conor Sheary assisted on both Gracel goals and now has six points in his last four games. Gracel continues to be on fire lately, with five goals and eight assists in his last nine games.
Last night was great to witness as a fan but I am extremely happy for seniors Kevin Czepiel, Darren Rowe, Eddie Olczyk, and Rocco Carzo. These four guys had been a part of many hard fought battles and heart breaking losses at Conte Forum but it took what could perhaps be their last visit to finally experience a win there.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Steve Mastalerz
Obviously Gracel’s two goals and assist were huge for the Minutemen but the fact is if Mastalerz done not come up with those big saves and withstand the multiple BC power plays in those first nine minutes this game could’ve been a blowout by the end of the first.
Highlights from UMassAthletics.com
“Amazing Gracel” is the headline for the Herald’s recap.
Here’s the Republican’s game story.
The Collegian’s recap focuses in on the seniors.
College Hockey News’ recap highlights the line of Pereira, Gracel, and Sheary.
Here’s the Eagle point of view from BC Interruption.
A couple of former Minutemen will likely soon be making their NHL debuts. Matt Irwin has made the opening roster for the Sharks. And former UMass captain Mike Kostka will be dressed for the Maple Leafs in their first game. The Toronto Globe and Mail has this great story about the 27 year old finally getting his shot in the NHL, with a few mentions of the alma mater. Congrats to both!