The Massachusetts hockey team fell short in a bid to split its regular season series with No. 12 Boston College at the Mullins Center Friday night, falling to the Eagles 5-3.
Trailing 3-1 heading into the third period, UMass (3-6-0, 1-5-0 Hockey East) had its chances at making a comeback, scoring a pair of goals, but the Eagles countered with two of their own scores to keep the game out of reach.
The Minutemen opened the scoring in the first minute with a goal from Ray Pigozzi, who skated through two BC defenders and flicked the puck past Eagles’ goaltender Thatcher Demko at the 46-second mark.
But BC (6-5-0, 2-3-0 Hockey East) responded with two goals in the first period from Chris Calnan and Cam Spiro. Calnan was credited with his goal after a puck ricocheted off UMass defenseman Oleg Yevenko’s foot past goaltender Henry Dill.
Quinn Smith then added another goal five minutes into the second period, again off a Minutemen deflection—this time off of freshman Patrick Lee.
“Sometimes that’s just how it goes,” senior captain Troy Power said. “I think overall they probably outworked us in the game and usually those bounces go to the team that does that.”
After the game, UMass coach John Micheletto said that while the two deflections were partly outside of the Minutemen’s control, the team’s backline of defense must do a better job controlling the area in front of the goalie’s crease.
“We have to play harder in front of our own goaltender,” Micheletto said. “We got some unfortunate bounces but we have to be a half step better positioned to be able to defend those.”
Micheletto added that while he thought UMass did well in maintaining puck possession Friday, there were opportunities to extend offensive attacks that were not taken. He particularly noted the lack of secondary chances on the power play, where the Minutemen finished 1-for-5.
“I thought we had good looks but I thought we were a little one-and-done on the power play,” Micheletto said. “I’d like to find that second or third look but obviously (BC) has a very good goaltender and it was tough to beat him.”
Demko finished with 18 saves, including 15 in the final two periods.
After being held to just Pigozzi’s opening goal through 43 minutes, UMass saw some increased success against Demko in the third period, with goals from Power and Marc Hetnik, trimming the Eagles’ leads to 3-2 and 4-3 respectively.
According to Micheletto, offensive play down low in front of Demko was the key to this late attack.
“In the first period I don’t think we played on the inside enough,” Micheletto said. “From then on, I thought we did a very good job.”
Power’s goal came in heavy traffic right in front of the goalie’s crease off a misdirection from a shot by Ben Gallacher. The goal was the senior’s first of the season and came in his 100th game as a Minuteman.
“I just tried to get a piece of it,” Power said. “(Demko) is a very talented goaltender, so tips and reflections and things like that are usually the way that you’re going to beat guys like that.”
Despite Hetnik’s score to make it a one-score game with 14 minutes left in regulation—coming on a slapshot from the right circle—BC would tack on an insurance goal from Noah Hanifin two minutes later to clinch the victory.
The win marked a historic moment for Eagles’ coach Jerry York, who notched his 502nd win in his 21st season at the helm of BC—a school record. York is the all-time winningest coach in collegiate hockey with 969 victories.
While York was reserved in talking about the school record’s importance, he was quick to acknowledge the man whose record he broke: John Kelley, York’s own coach when he played for the Eagles from 1963-1967.
“Milestones aren’t really my top pick,” York said. “But I do have a lot of respect for Coach Kelley.”
For UMass, it will face a quick turnaround as it hosts Vermont Saturday night at 7 p.m. According to Power, the Catamounts pose an aggressive defense that he expects to lead to a physical battle.
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Power said. “It’s going to be a completely different game than (Friday) and we’re going to have to be ready to go to dirty areas to have success in that game. We need to respond well.”
Anthony Chiusano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.