In front of a raucous crowd of 7,622, the Massachusetts hockey team did something it failed to do last weekend.
The Minutemen defeated the top team in the nation, No. 1 Boston College, in convincing fashion.
“This game was definitely huge, just for team morale, having the feeling again of what it’s like to win,” said senior forward Danny Hobbs following the Minutemen’s victory, their first win against a Hockey East opponent this season.
The victory over the Eagles (8-2-0, 6-1-0 HEA) marks only the third time the Minutemen have defeated a No. 1-ranked team, the last time coming on Nov. 14, 2008 in a 5-1 win over BU. The last time UMass (2-4-2, 1-4-2 HEA) won against any ranked team was against then-No. 17 Maine on Mar. 6, 2010.
Following the Minutemen’s 7-3 loss on Friday, a game that featured three goals in the first and second periods by New Hampshire, a quiet collection of UMass players filled the seats of the opposing team’s locker room in Durham, N.H.
“It was a tough one to swallow,” said senior forward T.J. Syner of the effort in Friday’s contest. “[Going in Saturday’s matchup] we kind of mentally prepared differently … everyone was a little more quiet and just with themselves.”
But on Saturday, BC jumped out to an early lead in the opening period. Five minutes into the first, Steven Whitney found a pass from the top of the left circle from Pat Mullane and proceeded to net his 10th goal of the season, giving the Eagles a 1-0 advantage.
UMass quickly answered back, finding the equalizer just one minute and 45 seconds later. Forward Michael Pereira sent home a rebound in front of the net off a deep shot from defensemen Adam Phillips to tie the game at 1-1.
There was not much in the way of offense in the latter half of the first and all of the second periods of play. With the score tied at 1-1 going into the second intermission, Saturday’s game for BC was only the second time that the Eagles scored one or fewer goals through the first two periods of any game this season.
“It’s great…we’re so happy right now,” said freshman goalkeeper Kevin Boyle, who has been in net for the Minutemen’s two victories this year.
Four minutes into the final period, Steven Guzzo gave UMass a 2-1 lead. Guzzo netted a controversial goal in front of a crowded net. The play, originally scored as a goal, was not reviewed due to technical malfunctions of the replay monitor.
“We were going hard to the net and good things happen,” said UMass coach Don Cahoon.
Freshman Oleg Yevenko rifled home his first career goal 13:29 into the period to increase the Minutemen’s lead at 3-1.
BC pulled within one just over two minutes later. Chris Kreider sent home a goal on an Eagle’s power play, his eighth goal of the season.
UMass sealed the deal with under a minute to play when Syner sent home an empty netter after a failed BC clearing attempt.
“It’s hard not to look at the clock … the time’s going real slow,” said Boyle of the moments in the final period winding down. “You just got to stay calm, composed and get the puck, track it and make the saves you need to.”
Boyle saved 24 shots, including 13 in the final period of play.
The Minutemen will be back in action Friday as they host Holy Cross at the Mullins Center. The puck drops at 6 p.m.
Scott Cournoyer can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @MDC_Cournoyer.