Boston College’s luck ran out on St. Patrick’s Day in the Hockey East semifinal, as the men's team lost a heartbreaker in double overtime against UMass Lowell by a score of 6-5.
After being down 4-1 with 10 minutes left in the third period, the Riverhawks grabbed three goals to tie it with three minutes remaining.
Twice, Boston College seemed as if it had secured the win following UMass Lowell tying the game at four goals apiece.
With two minutes left in regulation, Marc McLaughlin netted what appeared to be a game-winner on the power play to give the Eagles a 5-4 lead. Yet, Anthony Baxter tied it up 30 seconds later for the Riverhawks.
With roughly eight minutes left in the first overtime, BC appeared to have won the game again on a wrist shot from Patrick Giles.
The goal, however, was called back. BC appeared demoralized following the reversal, and lacked energy for much of the remainder of the game. Part of this, though, could also be attributed to the fatigue that characterizes a double overtime game.
Alex Newhook had a nose for the net on Wednesday afternoon. He was the Eagles’ greatest offensive contributor, assisting each of the Eagles’ first two goals and scoring the next two himself.
The Eagles struggled to get their offense going early, largely due to great defensive play by UMass Lowell. The Riverhawks consistently blocked the passing lanes in the first period. The Eagles could hardly move the puck, let alone get it into a good scoring position. They fired off six shots on goal in the period, whereas UMass Lowell got off 11.
Yet, they still came out of the first with the lead.
Faced with a four-on-four situation following a holding penalty on Marek Korencik and a hooking penalty on Jack St. Ivany, BC held the puck behind its own net for most of the penalties. When the Eagles came out from behind the net, however, they came out swinging.
The Eagles sped down the ice, where Matt Boldy then passed the puck up to Marshall Warren. Warren caught the puck in stride and hit the one-timer down low on the goalie’s blocker side before careening into the boards. The puck found its way into the back of the net to give BC a 1-0 lead.
Defensively, BC’s greatest strength was its ability to get in the way of UMass Lowell’s shots. Lowell was able to get off more shots on goal than BC, but the margin could have been much wider had BC’s defensemen not been able to block so many with their bodies.
Spencer Knight played as well as he could considering the number of shots he faced. While there were a few goals that Knight should have stopped, he also made some spectacular saves. Knight finished the night with 43 saves, just a few shy of his career-high of 47.
Also notable was the Eagles’ penalty kill. Penalties have been a significant problem for the Eagles all season. They picked up six in the game, all minors. Yet, they prevented the Riverhawks from capitalizing in every such instance.
While the strength of the Eagles' penalty kill unit is encouraging, their lack of discipline is concerning. They can’t give opponents so many opportunities, particularly once the NCAA tournament begins next week.
UMass Lowell will now travel to Amherst to face the state’s flagship school, UMass, in the Hockey East finals Saturday.
Lowell will be looking for its fourth conference tournament championship, all of which have come since 2013, while UMass will be looking to claim its first.
UMass will be thankful for the home ice advantage that it will have for the game, as it is the No. 3 seed in the Hockey East. However, the top two seeds, BC and BU, were knocked out of the tournament by UMass Lowell. The Riverhawks will surely be looking to defeat the top three seeds on their way to securing a berth to the NCAA tournament.
Boston College will now wait until Sunday to find out its fate with regards to the NCAA tournament.
As the No. 1 team in the country coming into the game, the Eagles are virtually certain to make the tournament; it is just a question of what seed they are and who their next opponent will be.
The Eagles will be seeking their fifth championship under Jerry York, with their most recent coming in 2012.
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