Despite a sell-out crowd of 8,385 at the Mullins Center Friday night, by the third period only chants from a small section of Boston College fans could be heard ringing through the arena.
A late goal by James Marcou with five minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the game got a cheer out of the few fans remaining for the Massachusetts hockey team, but an almost equally loud response of “what took so long” came from those who made the trip from Boston.
Video: UMass-Boston College Press Conference
By that point, the No. 14 Eagles had already gotten to the No. 14 Minutemen seven times, as they left Amherst for the second time this season with a win, this time a 7-1 victory.
“Well that was a disappointing night,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said to open his press conference. “We worked real hard as a program to get to a point where games become really significant and then people respond by coming out and supporting us, and to throw a goose egg up there is really disappointing.”
Entering the contest, the two schools were tied in second place in the conference standings with 22 points, but BC (15-8-2, 11-6-2 Hockey East) took a firm grasp on that position with the win, having played one fewer game than the Minutemen. The loss dropped the Minutemen into a tie for third place with Maine, who knocked off first-place New Hampshire on Friday night. While UMass handed the Blackbears a 5-3 loss at the beginning of the season, Maine holds the advantage in the standings now, having played two fewer games.
Even with three power-play chances, including a 5-on-3 advantage for the final minute and a half of the first period, the Minutemen (16-11-0, 11-9-0 HEA) failed to beat BC’s John Muse on nine shots in the opening period.
The Eagles, however, beat Paul Dainton four times in the first – all while at even strength – prompting Cahoon to sit the senior in favor of Dan Meyers for the remainder of the game.
The assault started just under five minutes into the period as Brian Gibbons slid the puck past the net to an open Joe Whitney for the first goal of the game.
After Paul Carey made it 2-0 at the 13:20 mark, J. Whitney notched his second of the period a minute later with Cam Atkinson and Gibbons getting the assists. Gibbons finished the night with four assists.
With 3:04 left in the period, Boston College brought the early lead to four with an unassisted goal. After picking the puck out of the air in the neutral zone, the Eagles’ Jimmy Hayes skated down the right side of the Minutemen’s zone before pulling the puck back in front of Dainton and then sliding it past the goaltender.
“It was just a series of bonehead plays and lack of energy if you will and competitiveness to fight our way back into the game,” Cahoon said. “The game broke so early their way that I kept telling myself if we can get ourselves righted we can poke away at this thing and there is lots of time left to make a game of it but we never righted ourselves.”
Meyers had a better second period then Dainton did in the first, but by a slim margin.
After holding the Eagles scoreless for nearly the first 15 minutes of the period, the younger Whitney brother, Steve, extended BC’s lead to five. With 2:19 left, Chris Kreider notched his sixth goal of the season, and the Eagles’ sixth of the game, off of the third assist of the game.
Up to that point in the game, all six of BC’s goals came at even strength, but with less than a second on the clock in the period, Meyer’s was beat for the third time in the period with the Eagles on the power play. After a roughing call on Marc Concannon, Cam Atkinson gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead heading into the final frame.
“They were remarkably determined and the only way that you’re going to be able to compete and beat a team like that is to be incredibly determined yourself,” Cahoon said. “We showed a real lack of commitment to that end.”
Jeffrey R. Larnard can be reached at [email protected]