UMass falls to BC, 6-3, in second game of back-to-back

The Minutemen were swept by BC in matchup of Hockey East’s best teams

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Evan Marinofsky, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts hockey team looked to be on the verge of tying its game with Boston College late in the third period Saturday night.

That was until Eagles (2-0-0) forward Mike Hardman entered the UMass (1-2-1) offensive zone with just under seven minutes to play in the game.

As the Minutemen defenders focused on the Eagles puck carrier near the corner, Hardman snuck in, received a pass and fired a one-timer past UMass goalie Filip Lindberg to extend the BC lead to 5-3, snapping the chances of a Minutemen comeback.

“We make it 4-3 and we’re playing well, feel like we got BC on the ropes a little bit,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said of BC’s fifth goal. “It takes them one mistake by us and it’s in the back of the net.”

The Eagles would go on to win 6-3 when they added an empty-netter with mere seconds remaining in the game.

“They’re a skilled team,” Carvel said of BC. “You knew that was going to happen, they get good scoring chances, it’s going to be in the back of the net. I thought for stretches we played well, had a lot of time in the offensive zone, found ways to keep clawing back into the game. But then we had breakdowns and Boston College made sure we paid for it pretty quick.”

The game wasn’t as lopsided as the score may indicate. For the majority of the night, UMass and BC traded goals, making for an exciting matchup between Hockey East’s two top teams.

BC opened the scoring roughly seven minutes into the first period when Eagles forward Marc McLaughlin ripped one past Lindberg off a 2-on-1 to put the visitors up 1-0.

But then, just two minutes later, Philip Lagunov potted home his second goal of the season on a backhand past outstretched Eagles goalie Spencer Knight to tie things up 1-1.

With that goal, Lagunov surpassed his total for all of last year — in an underwhelming 2019-20 season, Lagunov only scored a single lamplighter.

“We didn’t dress him the first game and he came out and played hard in the second game,” Carvel said of Lagunov. “He didn’t play real hard last night, so I had to get on him again and he comes out and scores again. I’ll be hard on Phil all year, he’ll keep scoring and hopefully it will be a nice situation.”

BC responded fairly quickly though, as with under two minutes to play in the first 20 minutes, Eagles defender Drew Helleson blasted one through Lindberg to give his team the 2-1 lead entering the first intermission.

The Eagles wasted no time adding to their lead in the second period, as Hardman picked off a pass from UMass freshman Aaron Bohlinger and took it the other way, creating a 2-on-1 for BC just under two minutes into the middle frame.

Hardman dished it over to Colby Ambrosio who was denied by Lindberg on the first shot but converted on the second to extend the lead to 3-1.

UMass never led at any point during Saturday’s game, however they did often cut the BC lead to one goal.

The first time they did this was midway through the second period when senior Jake Gaudet brought the puck around the back of the BC goal and found freshman Oliver MacDonald streaking towards the slot. MacDonald fired one through a screen and past the blocker of Knight to cut BC’s lead to 3-2.

As was the trend all weekend, BC countered with another one of its own just two minutes later when McLaughlin potted home his second of the night. His shot came from the blue line and deflected off UMass defender Gianfranco Cassaro and over Lindberg’s glove to extend the lead to 4-2.

Despite Gaudet’s goal almost eight minutes into the third period to bring the Minutemen to within one goal again, McLaughlin’s tally proved to be the winner.

Both teams were without vital members of their teams. BC was without arguably its best forward in Alex Newhook, as he’s off with Canada’s World Juniors team. UMass lost Reed Lebster in Friday night’s game, and previously lost defensive regulars in Ty Farmer and Marc Del Gaizo in last Saturday’s shootout loss to UConn.

The Minutemen had eight players in their lineup Saturday night who will call this season with the maroon and white their first.

“There was a lot more turnover than people realized on our team,” Carvel said after the loss. “And then when you take Marc Del Gaizo and Ty Farmer out, it feels like a young team. It feels like an inexperienced team and it’s a bit frustrating.”

UMass is slated to face UNH next, but that seems doubtful given the quickly changing landscape of Hockey East.

Carvel had a certain piece of advice when the question centered around future opponents.

“Any schedule that’s been put out by the league,” Carvel said. “I’d throw it in the trash and light it on fire.”

Evan Marinofsky can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @emarinofsky.