Following a nine day break, the No. 16 Eagles started off the second half of the season right with a 2-1 win against UMass Amherst on Tuesday night, their seventh straight win over the Minutemen.
Not only was this a big win against an in-state foe, but the victory also secured the top spot in the Hockey East standings over Northeastern.
After a lethargic start to the game, sophomore defenseman Jesper Mattila reignited the series’s ferocity after scoring 12:17 into the first period, notching his first career power play goal and first score since December 9th.
“The win for us is highlighted again by our strengths—our goaltending, good defensive play, special teams,” said Head Coach Jerry York, praising his team’s all-around performance. “I’m very pleased with our team tonight and our ability to defend the lead late is important for us and I thought we did some really good things with and without the puck late in the game.”
Despite holding on to the 1-0 lead for a fair time, the Minutemen eventually caught up, tying the game 1-1 at 4:07 in the second period. Considering they only won five games last season, it seems that BC was not quite ready for UMass’s newfound aggressive nature.
Coach York mentioned that the Minutemen were not the same team they had seen in previous years, praising both the coach and players for their vast improvement from last season.
Nonetheless, the Eagles fought back throughout the second, leading to an unassisted Logan Hutsko power play goal at the 14:48 mark. Forward David Cotton was able to manipulate UMass’s defense, leaving an open lane for Hutsko to shoot and score. Although Cotton broke his seven-game point streak, he still proved his value as a versatile player on the ice who can create opportunities for fellow teammates.
“I’d say that’s just a goal-scorer’s goal right there,” said captain Casey Fitzgerald, referring to Hutsko’s game-winning goal in the second. “He’s a special player. Once he gets going with his confidence and making plays, he can do special things like that. That’s nothing [Hutsko and Cotton] drew up or anything, that’s just straight instincts I would say. They’re two very good hockey players, so that’s the stuff, myself, I see everyday in practice and it’s nice to see it in a real game.”
Capitalizing on power plays has been a focus for the Eagles this season, and tonight displayed their progress. They were able to score on a power play, while also keeping themselves out of the penalty box. The Eagles have been averaging a staggering six penalties per game this season, but Coach York was pleased with his team’s improvement tonight in this area.
“We got a power play goal, which is good for us,” said Coach York. “Our discipline is clearly better than it was earlier in the season as far as taking penalties… A lot of those minor penalties kept on mounting on us and kept us from playing that sixty-minute effort that I wanted.”
Missing from the lineup tonight was Kevin Lohan, who was injured in an assault at a Boston restaurant this past weekend. Although his presence was missed on defense, both Fitzgerald and York noted that it was great to see other guys stepping up and taking charge on the ice. They both have confidence that the team’s roster can adapt and carry them through the rest of the season.
“We got some forwards that are probably aching to go back and play defense, block some shots, take hits,” joked Coach York with Fitzgerald.
The Eagles will travel to face UMass Lowell on Friday at 7 pm, looking to build off of Tuesday's victory.
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