UMass hockey overmatched against top Boston University forwards

By Ross Gienieczko

Photo by Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian
Photo by Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian

There was no one reason behind the Massachusetts hockey teams 8-1 defeat against Boston University.
The Minutemen never had a consistent offensive attack throughout the night. They struggled to break out of their own zone clean, and spent far too much time defending BU early in the game. But most of all, the Minutemen were out-gunned and overmatched by the top two forward lines from BU.

The top Terriers’ forwards combined to score six goals and pressured UMass for stretches at a time. They were big, fast and skilled, and the Minutemen simply could not match up against them throughout the night.

“We’ve got some depth up front, and those guys are really going to capitalize on their opportunities,” BU coach David Quinn said. “They’re going to generate chances.”

Early in the game, it was the second line that powered the Terriers. Center Robbie Baillargeon scored the first goal midway through the first off assists from his linemates Cason Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues. They had constant pressure throughout the first period, and Quinn said the trio easily could’ve scored several goals in the frame.

“I thought (that line) was unbelievable,” Quinn said. “Every time they were on the ice they were generating scoring chances.”

Midway through the second, Rodrigues recorded another assist. He used impressive stick handling and a slick move around a defender to set up freshman Nikolas Olsson for another BU goal, and overall the group provided consistent pressure again. Through two periods, the second line was the top line of the night for the Terriers.

Then, in the third, the BU first line exploded. After two periods of relative silence, Terriers freshman center and top NHL prospect Jack Eichel scored to make it 3-1 BU just over a minute into the third. Less than one minute later, he set up linemate Danny O’Regan for another Terriers goal, and three minutes after that, Eichel scored again. At that point it was 5-1, and the rout was on.

“Jack makes a great play to make it 3-1, then he makes another great play to make it 4-1, and all of a sudden we’ve got momentum.” Quinn said.

UMass coach John Micheletto said the Terriers were relentless in capitalizing on UMass mistakes.
“We just got swallowed up,” Micheletto said. “Our breakdowns became goals.”

Eichel finished with two goals, two assists, and a plus five rating on the night. O’Regan finished with two goals as well, and an assist of his own. Second line winger Rodrigues had three assists, and overall the top six forwards for BU combined to score six goals with nine assists.

In contrast, it was an empty night for the top two Minutemen lines. The only goal of the night was scored by defenseman Jake Horton, and neither line ever had a strong presence in the Terriers zone. Defensively, the lines were hemmed into their own zone, and as a result of that were limited in their offensive zone opportunities.

The gap between the top lines of either team was one UMass could never overcome. The Terriers rolled out some of college hockey’s best players on their top two lines, and the effect of one top line after another ground the Minutemen down. It’s a kind of depth that few teams in the country have, but something Micheletto said could be found throughout the conference.

“That’s why Hockey East is the greatest conference in the country,” Micheletto said.

Ross Gienieczko can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RossGien