UML hockey claws back to tie No. 1 BC

By Yoni Monat

Flickr/Galatians Design
Flickr/Galatians Design

With a record 7,649 patrons jamming the Tsongas Center in Lowell for a matchup of the top two teams in Hockey East, the UMass Lowell hockey team stormed back from a 2-0 third-period deficit against the nation’s top team, Boston College, to force a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

BC (25-4-4, 16-1-2 Hockey East), fresh off of a 3-0 blanking of the River Hawks (20-8-4, 10-5-3) the prior day in Chestnut Hill, potted two goals in the second period after a scoreless first.

Junior forward Johnny Gaudreau tallied his 29th goal of the season in traffic on the power play at the 9:04 mark. Freshman forward Ryan Fitzgerald, the beneficiary of assists from Isaac MacLeod and Patrick Brown, padded the Eagles’ lead with a point-blank tip-in just 1:54 later.

BC entered the second intermission with a 2-0 advantage, primed to set UMass Lowell, ranked No. 7 in the nation, further back in the Hockey East standings.

After Eagles goalie Thatcher Demko kept the River Hawks off the scoreboard for the prior 1:47:03 of game action over two days, BC’s Chris Calnan was directed into the penalty box with a high-stick minor.

A mere 15 seconds into the man-advantage, Adam Chapie broke through for UMass Lowell, wristing a shot over Demko’s blocker-side shoulder. The power-play goal at the 6:42 mark of the third period brought the River Hawks within a goal.

Back at even strength, the River Hawks kept peppering the BC end of the ice. Zach Kamrass’ shot from the left point was kicked out by Demko, but A.J. White stepped into the puck and fired a bullet past the goalie low blocker side, sending the masses into euphoria.

With UMass Lowell attempting to complete the comeback, Demko held off the River Hawks for the rest of regulation, and so did Doug Carr at the other end of the ice against the Eagles. The five-minute overtime likewise elapsed without a goal, so the game ended in a 2-2 tie.

Both sides will next take the ice over the weekend against Hockey East foes as the regular season concludes, with UMass Lowell traveling to Vermont for games on Friday and Saturday and BC hosting Notre Dame on Saturday.

The Eagles will enjoy the No. 1 seed in the Hockey East Tournament, which begins March 7, while the River Hawks’ seed will be determined by this weekend’s results.

Northeastern downs Maine in battle for seeding

Northeastern (18-10-4, 10-6-2 Hockey East) asserted itself in a matchup with Maine (15-11-4, 9-6-3), never trailing in a back-and-forth, 4-3 victory at Matthews Arena in Boston on Saturday.

After the two sides played to a 4-4 tie in the same venue on Friday, sophomore forward Kevin Roy’s four assists lifted the Huskies to take a one-point advantage over the Black Bears in the Hockey East standings for third place.

Clinging to a 3-2 lead, Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese beat Maine goalie Martin Oulette at 10:56 of the third period. Ben Hutton responded for the Black Bears at 17:19, but on the power play and with the net empty, Maine couldn’t muster the equalizer against Northeastern netminder Clay Will.

The Huskies close their Hockey East slate with matchups with their crosstown rivals, Boston University, at Agganis Arena next Friday and on Northeastern’s campus the following evening. Maine hosts Providence for a pair on the same days.

Yoni Monat can be reached at [email protected]