Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass suffers a 6-4 loss against Boston College on Sunday afternoon

A three goal unanswered Minuteman stretch didn’t overpower defensive struggles
Kira Johnson
Daily Collegian (2024)

The Boston College Eagles walked out of the weekend sweeping the Massachusetts hockey team who fell 6-4 on Sunday afternoon. The Minutemen (16-9-3, 9-7-2 Hockey East) suffered back to back penalties in the third period, allowing the Eagles (23-5-1, 15-3-1 HEA) to surge back from a one-goal deficit.

After Cole O’Hara received a holding penalty late in the third, it was only a few seconds before Lucas Mercuri was called for interference. This gave Boston College the two-man advantage.

With the three Minutemen organizing their defensive strategy, the Eagles’ freshman forward Ryan Leonard stood strong in front of Michael Hrabal and took the puck in from Will Smith and Eamon Powell. With a quick release, Leonard secured his second goal of the afternoon.

This was followed immediately by his third during five-on-four. Collecting the pass from Jack Malone, Leonard challenged Hrabal and Ryan Ufko. Trying to find the perfect angle, he pushed the puck in and gave the lead back to Boston College.

The hard fought effort of the Minutemen, though, did not go unnoticed in the locker room nor the fans.

“The message [after the first period] was [there’s] still 40 minutes left of hockey… The coaches came in and we all tried to just keep the room light,” Ufko said.

Coming out of a two-goal deficit in the first period largely due to UMass struggling to keep Boston College out of the offensive zone, Aydar Suniev propelled the Minutemen ahead midway through the second period after Kenny Connors sunk in UMass’ opening goal.

On his first chance to tie the game, Eagles’ goaltender Jacob Fowler blocked the initial shot. However, this block sent Fowler backward and down onto the ice. Seeing the prime opportunity, the freshman forward scooped the rebound and quickly wrapped around the net. With Fowler unable to gather himself in net, Suniev’s shot secured a tied game.

Extending his momentum, he grabbed the lead nearly 30 seconds later.

Ryan Lautenbach flung the puck out of the corner to find his linemate, Lucas Mercuri. Mercuri sent the puck backwards to meet Suniev who was standing in front of an unprotected portion of the net as Fowler was focused on stopping Mercuri.

“It kind of happened quick,” Suniev said. “Great pass by Mercuri there [and] I was just trying to get it in the net.”

With a quick tap, the freshman threw his arms up to celebrate his second goal of the afternoon. His two goals sent the arena into celebration with him, welcoming in UMass chants from behind its bench.

“It was definitely really special,” Ufko said. “Not a lot of teams get that, so we’re really lucky here. You could tell after [Suniev] scored that second and third goal really quickly… we took the lead, and we could see the whole building erupt and cheer for us.”

This was not the only time the Minutemen took the lead.

Before the halfway mark of the third period, Dans Locmelis pulled UMass ahead, 4-3.

From behind the right circle, Samuli Niinisaari made a clear shot towards Fowler. Locmelis was waiting in front of the net and guided the puck into the net with a tap.

“I think tonight we really showed that we can compete just like [Boston College]…We tied in the third and got the lead there, unfortunately we lost it,” Ufko said. “We got to be disciplined. Can’t give high skilled teams a lot of Grade A [chances].”

Despite electrifying the offensive momentum, it could not overshadow the defensive struggles of the Minutemen against the top team in the country from the first period up to Cutter Gauthier’s final insurance goal.

“Tough way to lose a game,” head coach Greg Carvel said.

The Minutemen head back to the Mullins Center on Friday, Feb. 23 for a 7 p.m. puck drop to open up the weekend series against the University of New Hampshire.

Sydney Ciano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SydneyCiano.

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