Eagles have blank expression
UMass-Lowell blitzes BC with flurry in third period
Even though the Boston College hockey team was playing in its own rink, UMass-Lowell refused to let the Eagles near the puck.
The River Hawks pushed BC around on the boards, blocked shooting lanes, and cleared rebounds from in front of goalie Nevin Hamilton while scoring shorthanded, on the power play, and at even strength as they seized a 6-0 victory before 3,847 at Conte Forum. That number had dwindled considerably by the halfway mark of the third period, as BC showed little sign of reviving its moribund offense.
UMass-Lowell had never before beaten BC by six goals. Hamilton earned the shutout with 27 saves. His last shutout was Nov. 15 at UMass-Amherst (22 saves in a 2-0 win). The last time BC was shut out at home was Feb. 22, 2008, by New Hampshire, and the last time the Eagles gave up six goals was Nov. 29, 1992, against Clarkson.
The teams came into the game tied for fifth place in Hockey East, and Lowell (14-13-0, 11-9-0) left the building in fourth, tied with UNH, 2 points ahead of BC (13-10-4, 8-8-4).
Ben Holmstrom scored in each of the first two periods to give the River Hawks a 2-0 advantage, then Lowell struck twice within 1:21 - the first goal a shorthanded game-breaker - to take charge. David Vallorani also scored a pair.
But it was Nick Schaus's shorthanded tally at 6:44 of the third, putting Lowell in front, 3-0, that tore the heart from the BC bench.
"Through the first two periods, we're still right in the hockey game," said BC coach Jerry York. "We're down, 2-0, but we were getting some chances. But just the third period . . . the shorthanded goal was a real backbreaker for us. John [Muse] made the first save, he made the second save, and we just kind of wanted to go on the power play, we didn't realize we had to go back and defend. The whole third period was dictated by Lowell."
In the first period, BC had four power-play chances and came up empty. On the final man-advantage, awarded at 16:08 when Steve Capraro was sent to the box for interference, the Eagles managed a few shots, mostly from the perimeter, but couldn't get their hands on a rebound for two minutes.
By the end of the second period, BC was 0 for 7 on the power play and finished 0 for 9. The River Hawks were killing the Eagles along the boards, pushing them off pucks, and preventing them from getting possession.
"I was really proud of how we played in the third period," said UMass-Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald, whose team also beat BC at Conte Forum Jan. 16, a 4-3 overtime win. "Twenty-one shots on net and we just did a really nice job."
York agreed. "They were clearly the better hockey team than we were in the third period," he said.
Holmstrom got his first goal on the power play at 2:05 of the first, picking up Maury Edwards's rebound and tucking it past Muse. He doubled the Lowell lead at 10:59 of the second, crashing the net and deflecting Patrick Cey's pass inside the left post.
"We were fortunate to get some bounces go our way early," said MacDonald. "Nevin Hamilton was clearly the best player on the ice. He gave us a chance to get a little rhythm to our game that was a little disjointed because of all the penalty killing we had."
Lowell took advantage of a BC turnover early in the third. When Benn Ferriero lost a pass at the right point in the Lowell zone, Mark Roebothan claimed the puck and skated up ice for a shot. Holmstrom got a stab at the first rebound before Schaus buried the second. At 8:05, Vallorani got his first, picking up his own rebound and flipping it past Muse.
Vallorani added a power-play score at 12:15 and Nick Monroe finished it off with a shorthanded goal at 19:44.
"That's the way we want to play against anybody," said MacDonald. "We've got to get the puck to smart areas and see if we can get it back."