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 hockey suffers 8-1 loss in Semifinals against Boston College

The Minutemen’s NCAA Tournament spot remains unknown
Kira Johnson
Daily Collegian (2024)

The Massachusetts hockey team crumbled against No. 1 Boston College in an 8-1 loss in the Hockey East Semifinals, leaving the Minutemen’s (20-13-3, 12-11-2 HEA) NCAA Tournament fate in the hands of Sunday’s selection show.

The Minutemen opened the scoring for the evening with the team’s sole goal coming from junior forward Lucas Mercuri. Ryan Lautenbach started the sprint down the ice, sending it to Scott Morrow who found Lautenbach again along the boards. One final pass to Mercuri who was cutting across diagonally in the right circle sounded the first buzzer of the game as the puck flung behind Jacob Fowler’s right shoulder and danced along the back of the net.

“I think one of the very best parts of our game was when we gave up that first goal, the bench energy was terrific and the guys stayed really positive,” Eagles head coach Greg Brown said. “The first goal of a game in playoffs is usually a big one, and for us to be able to stem that and get the momentum back was a key part of the game.”

Boston College’s (30-5-1, 21-3-1 HEA) Ryan Leonard, though, evened out the score immediately after Aydar Suniev was sent to the penalty box for tripping.

With the Eagles setting up a play in the offensive zone, Will Smith sent the puck flying at Michael Hrabal, who blocked the initial shot on his right. However, Leonard was waiting patiently for the rebound, quickly flicking in the puck before Hrabal was able to defend the open left side of the net.

“It didn’t feel like our team tonight much at all,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “BC’s a tremendous team, such an offensive powerhouse.”

Boston College welcomed back Gabe Perreault to the lineup Friday evening, and his presence did not go unnoticed. The freshman tallied two goals and two assists. His first goal came from a shot from Leonard who was positioned behind the right circle. Perreault came up quickly on the net, tipping the puck in before rounding the corner and being slammed against the boards. Not knowing if his shot went by Hrabal, Smith was the first to celebrate the beginning of the Eagles’ lead.

Perreault also challenged Hrabal one-on-one in the third period. He skated up close to the freshman goaltender and found a way to sneak the puck behind him. The buzzer sounded BC’s seventh goal of the evening before Cutter Gauthier’s eighth goal and the third period’s final seconds officially sent the Eagles off to the HEA Championship matchup.

“We’ve been together for so long now that it’s just fun having him back on the bench and, you know, just enjoy it,” Smith said.

Poor defense continued to plague UMass in the Semifinals matchup with pucks flying past the Minutemen and leaving Hrabal out to dry against the No. 1 seed.

On Aram Minnetian’s goal, the Minutemen were lined up the center on their way to Hrabal. However, Minnetian’s shot from in between the circles flew by, not hitting a single UMass stick on its way by. With Hrabal unable to block the puck, the buzzer sounded Boston College’s sixth goal.

“Those eight goals don’t come from just big, super highlight reel plays,” Gauthier said. “They come from little details like winning puck battles and making smart plays.”

The Minutemen’s lack of vision on the ice also hurt them, allowing Boston College to regain control over the puck time and time again off of avoidable UMass turnovers. This was especially detrimental during UMass’ four power plays.

At the end of the first period, UMass’ coaches’ challenge for a major penalty was accepted due to Mike Posma’s check to Cam O’Neill’s head. Despite having five minutes with a man advantage, the Minutemen fell victim to the Eagles’ speed and stickhandling. Boston College found chances to ice the puck and grab a breakaway opportunity repeatedly, killing time and UMass momentum.

“You kill off a five-minute penalty and you’re not exhausted doing it,” Brown said. “You feel great because that’s a long time to be shorthanded. So, it gave us a boost.”

Poor vision was the case on Smith’s goal after Hrabal blocked a shot and was unaware of where the puck landed. With the puck in the air, Smith was able to make a tap at it as Hrabal backed up closer into the net in hopes of finding the puck. Smith’s shot secured Boston College’s fourth goal of the evening.

The Minutemen will return back to Amherst, awaiting the news of their Tournament hopes.

“Got to remind them how they played last weekend,” Carvel said of the possibility of his team heading to the Tournament. “It’ll come right down to the wire. If we make it, great. If we don’t, we have only ourselves to blame.”

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

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