On a night where four distinguished senior Eagles were honored, another accolade was added to their terrific careers. After a 3-1 victory over the UMass Lowell River Hawks, the Eagles claimed at least a share of the Hockey East regular season crown and clinched the number one seed in the upcoming Hockey East tournament.
The Eagles got off to a quick start in the first period with goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Teddy Doherty. The game plan was clearly to come out and attack the stifling UMass Lowell defense. Coming into tonight’s game, the River Hawks ranked second in the nation in allowing just 1.84 goals per game. The Eagles were able to exceed this total after just one period. The River Hawks added a goal late in the period to trim Boston College’s lead, but this would be the lone bright spot for Norm Bazin’s squad.
As terrific as Lowell’s defense has been all season, it has continued to struggle on the offensive side of the puck. These struggles have been encompassed by ineffectiveness on the power play. Since the holiday break, the River Hawks are 4-40 on the power play, including a 0-7 effort tonight against the Eagles.
In the hopes of stimulating the power play, Coach Bazin made a questionable decision in the third period. With 3:12 to go in the game and the Eagles clinging to a 2-1 lead, Austin Cangelosi was sent to the penalty box. Instead of playing the power play with the normal one-man advantage, Coach Bazin made the decision to pull goalie Kevin Boyle, giving the River Hawks a 6-on-4 advantage.
“You have to go with your gut sometimes,” said River Hawks Coach Norm Bazin. “We weren’t generating much 5 on 4 so we tried something different. I was hoping we could generate more with a two man advantage.” However, this decision proved to be costly as Ryan Fitzgerald fired a shot from behind the Eagles’ blue line into the River Hawk’s empty net, sealing a Boston College victory.
As for the Eagles, their penalty kill was outstanding. Led by Thatcher Demko in net, the Eagles were able to stifle any efforts made the River Hawks in the Eagles’ zone. Lowell was often forced into the corners, allowing for the Eagles to clear the puck easily. Besides one costly turnover in the first period, leading to the lone River Hawks goal, the Eagles’ defense proved itself as one of the best in the nation. Coach Jerry York certainly praised his coaching staff and players on their efforts tonight.
“I think we have a good scheme,” York said. “Our coaches work a lot on film preparation and how to defend different combinations of penalty kills. The kids responded very well. It’s one thing to put it up on the board and another thing to execute it. I think we executed very well tonight.”
As well as Boston College played on the defensive end, one concern that Coach Jerry York and his staff must address is their discipline. After a weekend against Vermont where the Eagles went to the box 17 times in 3 games, the trend only continued last night against UMass Lowell. After 8 penalties in the game, including six in the second and third periods, discipline within the game must be addressed if the Eagles wish to be competitive come the Hockey East and NCAA Tournaments.
Nonetheless, tonight’s win was a fitting end for the 2016 senior class in their final regular season game at Kelley Rink. The Eagles fell 3-1 to the River Hawks tonight in Lowell, losing their first game of 2016. BC will have a few weeks off after getting a first round bye and will return to action in the Hockey East tournament.
Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics.