During the regular season, No. 2 UMass Amherst men’s hockey handedly defeated the Boston College Eagles. Twice. BC has had an indisputably disappointing season; what would you expect when they made a surprising trip to the Hockey East semifinals where they had to face UMass again?
Would BC have enough momentum from their back to back overtime wins in the quarterfinals to give the Minutemen a run for their money?
Everybody had these questions on their mind coming into the game. Everybody except for the Eagles, that is.
As soon as the puck touched the ice in the opening draw, the BC men’s hockey team was aggressive and hungry for revenge. The first period saw an equal fight from both sides, with tensions rising and chirps exchanged between whistles. It was clear the Eagles came to play, and nobody made that more obvious than David Cotton when he buried the puck in the back of the net with a swift backhanded shot that hopped right over the UMass goalie’s pad.
That goal came with just 12 seconds remaining in the first period and put BC up 1-0 heading into the locker room. The BC fans were loving it as the atmosphere in TD Garden became more and more lively.
Although the second period came and went without any goals, it was no less interesting than the first. BC’s defense, particularly Eagles' goalie Joseph Woll, manhandled UMass any time they entered BC’s zone and tried to get a shot off. Woll blocked shot after shot, no matter how many rebounds UMass was able to control.
No matter if UMass had a fast break, power play, or a wide-open look, there was no chance Woll would let a puck enter the net. On the other side of the rink, BC’s offense looked crisp and quick as they dominated puck possession and shelled the UMass goalie but were unable to get past him.
The third period began with a score of 1-0. UMass looked to have tied the game up early on in the third, but their goal was called back. The UMass crowd went into uproar in response, but they were soon silenced by BC’s Chris Grando, who buried a shot in a 2-on-1 fast break to extend the Eagles’ lead.
UMass simply could not keep up with BC’s speed and unrelenting aggression despite getting more shots on goal. It seemed like whenever UMass got their hands on the puck, it never lasted longer than a minute or two before BC took it back.
In the end of the game UMass tried to make things interesting by pulling their goalie and adding a sixth man, but Julius Matilla scolded them for the mistake and scored an empty net goal.
Legendary Head Coach Jerry York’s 600thwin at Boston College was well earned. The playoff victory also made York the leader in all-time wins in the Hockey East Tournament history, with 63. The Eagles overall effort was incredibly impressive given how their first two outings with the Minutemen had gone.
After earning a victory in the semifinals, the Eagles headed into the championship game on Saturday night against Northeastern.
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