Boston College men’s hockey got off to a slow start in the first period of Tuesday night’s game against Massachusetts. The Minutemen—who started five freshmen—controlled the puck in the early going and generated the first three shots of the night. But it was only a matter of time before head coach Greg Carvel’s team’s youth gave way.
“Tonight we looked like a young team,” Carvel told reporters following the game. “And the first period was a men against boys.”
All of a sudden, the momentum shifted and the Eagles made a home in the offensive zone, racking up nine of the next 11 shots, including BC’s first goal. Although the Minutemen flirted with a comeback in the second period, the game never got out of the Eagles’ hands. Logan Hutsko needed all of 11 minutes to tilt the score back in BC’s favor, and the Eagles’ defense took care of the rest, securing a 2-1 victory—BC’s second in a row and seventh-straight over the Minutemen.
Four days earlier, the No. 16 Eagles (12-9-3, 12-4-0 Hockey East) lost a big piece of their defense—literally. Six-foot-five graduate transfer Kevin Lohan was attacked at a Domino’s on Boylston St. early Friday morning and suffered a jaw injury. The Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. native had surgery, but head coach Jerry York said there is no timetable for a potential return. Couple Lohan’s injury with Michael Campoli’s decision to leave the program during Winter Break, and BC is down to six men on the back end. There was no telling how the Eagles’ defense was going to fare against UMass (11-12-1, 5-8-1)—a team that had scored three or more goals against both No. 8 Northeastern and No. 10 Providence earlier this year. It’s safe to say that the unit rose to the occasion.
Filling in the void left by Lohan, Michael Karow played major minutes in the mid-week matchup and made of the most of the opportunity, blocking one shot and recording a season-high three of his own. From top to bottom, BC’s blue liners were the driving force in the Eagles one-goal win, holding UMass to just 21 shots—6.8 less than the Minutemen’s season average.
2) Power Play
BC entered Tuesday night’s game ranked 41st on the power play. But midway through the first period, the Eagles looked like a team atop the leaderboard. An Austin Pleavy slashing penalty gifted BC its first one-man advantage of the night. Over the course of the two-minute minor, Casey Fitzgerald, David Cotton, and Hutsko repeatedly worked the puck around the perimeter, setting up a handful of looks on net. At one point, Cotton split the Minutemen defense and dialed up a pass to Christopher Brown outside of the crease. The junior tried to go near side, but UMass goaltender Matt Murray was there for the stop. BC’s fluid play wouldn’t go to waste—in the waning seconds of the power play, the Eagles finally found the back of the cage.
A few feet in front of the boards, Brown slid the puck along the blue line to Connor Moore. The sophomore drifted toward the left zone, surveying the ice. At the heart of the circle, he dished a pass to Jesper Mattila. The Finnish defenseman corralled the puck and wristed a shot past Murray.
Although the scoring play only marked the 16th power-play conversion of the Eagles’ season, it was the team’s third in as many games.
“I think special teams is so important,” York said. “We’re finding the right people in the right spots—I thought our puck movement was much better.”
3) Logan Hutsko
Logan Hutsko went two months without scoring a goal. Now he has two in the past three games. After being called for slashing, eight minutes into the second period, the freshman redeemed himself on the break. Thanks to an errant Minutemen clearance attempt, Hutsko ended up with the puck and a lot of open ice ahead of him. Without hesitation, he pushed the puck into the offensive zone. While he infiltrated the left circle, Cotton joined him, creating a 2-on-1. The 6-foot-3 sophomore tapped his stick on the ice as he inched toward the net. Hutsko looked his teammate off, confusing Murray in the process, and then elevated the puck over the UMass netminder.
“I’d say that’s just a goal-scorer’s goal right there—he’s a special player,” Casey Fitzgerald said. “That’s nothing that they drew up or anything, that’s just straight instincts.”
When all was said and done, the freshman was credited with the game-winning goal—the first of his young career.
Last time out, the Eagles committed six penalties, including four in the first period alone. Despite rolling over New Hampshire, 5-2, York was upset with his team’s lack of discipline. Clearly the 24th-year coach addressed the matter during BC’s off week, as the Eagles only sent three players to the box on Tuesday night. But even those penalties could have been avoided.
Less than two minutes into the second period, Graham McPhee blatantly tripped Mario Ferraro near center ice. The freshman defenseman hit the deck and the whistle blew, catching McPhee red-handed. Even though the Eagles killed the penalty, it still proved costly. During the ensuing change, Brett Boeing soared down the right side of the ice. Eventually, he flung the puck in the direction of BC goaltender Joseph Woll. The sophomore netminder batted the shot out of the crease, but John Leonard was there for the rebound and the putback to tie the game up at one. Later, J.D. Dudek and Hutsko were called for hooking and slashing, respectively—both penalties that were driven by frustration more than anything.
2) Off the Mark
BC had scored six-plus goals in each of its last four games against the Minutemen. On Tuesday night, though, the Eagles didn’t come close to reaching the mark, primarily due to the fact that they struggled with their shot accuracy from start to finish. York’s crew attempted 21 total shots in the first period—two were blocked by the UMass defense, but nine were off-target. So, instead of heading into the second frame with a three-goal lead like it did in both of last year’s matchups, BC settled for just one scoring play.
The ensuing periods were more of the same. Time and time again, the Eagles’ first line orchestrated scoring chances, but as soon as it reached the offensive zone, it faltered. Whether it was Karow missing an open slapshot or Fitzgerald getting a piece of Murray’s glove in between the circles, BC simply couldn’t light the lamp in the latter portion of play. Aside from McPhee’s buzzer-beating shot attempt on an open cage, Hutsko might have had the best chance to tack on his second goal of the game and the Eagles’ third of the night, midway through the final frame. Attempting to clear the puck out of their own zone, the Minutemen virtually handed possession over to Hutsko at the top of the right circle. Then, UMass defenseman Eeetu Torpstrӧm tripped, giving the freshman forward all the space he needed to get a shot off. Instead, he waited to release the puck and tried to beat Murray nearside, but came up empty.
3) Sloppy Finish
Not only did BC fail to log a goal in the final period, but it also struggled to complete passes. Minutes into the frame, the Eagles got their first good look on net. Off a Minutemen turnover, Hutsko sprinted down the ice, spun around, and located a wide-open Julius Mattila in the right zone, but the sophomore couldn’t come down with the puck. Toward the end of the period, Mattila was pressed up against the boards in UMass territory. He pivoted and centered a pass. Miscommunicating, both Cotton and Hutsko went for the puck. Cotton ended up with possession and tried to feed his linemate, who was simultaneously skating backwards, but the delivery was out of the freshman’s reach. Still, nothing was worse than Michael Kim’s pass with under a minute to go in the game.
After fighting for the puck against the boards in the Eagles’ zone, the junior defenseman managed to regain possession. Rather than clearing it, he dumped it off to Julius Mattila at the edge of the left circle, only a few feet away from the crease. Right when the puck hit the Fin’s stick, Niko Hildenbrand swooped in to force a turnover. Just like that, UMass had possession in BC’s half less than 40 seconds remaining in regulation. Fortunately for the Eagles, Woll saved the final Minutemen shot.
Featured Image by Tiger Tao / Heights Staff