UMass tied Boston College last year at Conte Forum, showing that the Minutemen know—or at least knew—what it takes get a result in Chestnut Hill. For a while on Saturday, they played well enough to do it again. Then, they gave BC an odd-man rush and a couple of two-man advantages—that wasn’t part of the formula, and BC got its first conference win, 4-1.
BC had more chances throughout the game, but UMass limited the Eagles’ forecheck and offensive zone time for the first period and much of second. With the score 0-0 past the halfway point of the tilt, UMass got its best chance to capitalize when BC goalie Thatcher Demko let a rebound bounce into the slot. The Minutemen needed to pounce, but they failed. BC cleared it, sending it the other way, and sophomore Adam Gilmour baited the one-man UMass defense and fed Alex Tuch. Tuch snapped off a missile short-side to break the game open.
“That pass by Gilmour to send Tuch in on that 2-on-1 was really an excellent hockey play, a very quick pass, and it almost became a clean breakaway,” said BC head coach Jerry York.
UMass kept throwing the game away, and Gilmour kept catching it. On BC’s first 5-on-3 later in the second, the sophomore adjusted to a point feed from Noah Hanifin and one-timed it past Henry Dill top-corner. In the third, in the same formation, Hanifin fired wide from the right point and the puck bounced off the end wall and back out to Gilmour, again in the left circle. Gilmour got his shot off before Dill could move across his crease, a play York said is by design.
“[Hanifin] was trying to put it on the short side [of the net], but we’re spaced in a 2-3 set, so if it does come off [the end wall], if it comes outside, we have a guy right in that position,” York said. “It’s one of the advantages of being in an umbrella [1-3-1]. I’ve seen it happen a lot against us, but that short side miss, Johnny [Gaudreau used to] come right out back side. It’s hard for the goaltender to stop, it’s almost like a good pool shot.”
As out of hand as the game got late, it was that tight early on. BC improved as the night progressed, though, and was ready when UMass imploded.
“One of the real pluses from my vantage point was that we stayed comfortable,” York said. “It’s 0-0, going late into the second period, and we never got over the edge [with frustration]. We just kept playing hockey. That’s a trait that a lot of teams never acquire. It’s a tight hockey game, but you don’t [want to] say, hey, we gotta do this, we gotta do that. We kinda just kept rolling our lines.”
Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff