Style points count for nothing in the playoffs; wins are what matters, and Boston College keeps getting them.
On Saturday night at Conte Forum’s Kelley Rink, the #1 Boston College Eagles defeated the Massachusetts Minutemen for the second-straight night, this time by a 3-2 score. The win gives BC a sweep of the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinals series and will send them to the TD Garden next weekend for the semifinals. Additionally, Boston College has now won thirteen games in a row and have not lost since their second of two weekend defeats in Maine on January 21.
Much like Friday’s game, Saturday’s match against the Minutemen was a close affair. This one, however, began with UMass striking first. Conor Sheary got the Minutemen on the scoreboard just 2:54 into the game with a goal to give UMass a 1-0 lead, striking a little bit of trepidation into the hearts of Eagles fans who saw their team just squeak by the night before (Gracel and Syner assisted).
That lead by the Minutemen had a particularly short lifespan. Just thirteen seconds after the goal, Bill Arnold was sent to the penalty box for roughing, and 32 seconds after that, Steven Guzzo of UMass unleashed a hit from behind and was served with a five-minute major and a game misconduct. This ended the UMass power play and the Eagles put all of that extra penalty time to good use. On the ensuing four-on-four, at 4:25, Pat Mullane slipped one past goalie Kevin Boyle to tie the game at one (Gaudreau assisted).
Of course, soon thereafter, the Eagles would still have several minutes of power play time, and Paul Carey made sure it wasn’t wasted. At 8:18 of the first, shortly before the five-minute major expired, the red-hot Paul Carey gave the Eagles the lead on the power play for his fourteenth score of the season (Arnold assisted).
For a little while, the fears of BC fans were assuaged, but late in the second period, UMass let the Eagles know they were still around. With a bit less than two minutes before the end of period two, following a Patrick Wey elbowing penalty, Joel Hanley of the Minutemen scored his seventh goal of the season and tied the game at 2-2 (Marcou and Sheary assisted).
Once again, however, UMass’s success was brief. About one minute later, at 19:11 of the second period, Brian Dumoulin shot the game-winner with both teams skating four per side; the Eagles took a 3-2 lead which they would not relinquish (Kreider and Milner assisted).
In the third period, the officials called just one penalty — an Isaac MacLeod hold — but the Minutemen were unable to convert on that only power play and goalie Parker Milner held tough for the win.
Massachusetts played a hard-fought series and even Eagles fans have to give them credit. Boston College lost the regular-season series to them and UMass played like a team that knew it could hang with the Eagles. Over the course of both games of this Hockey East quarterfinal, the Minutemen put more pucks on the net than BC did, and in Game 2 in particular, they outshot the Eagles 35 to 22. As it was in the first game, though, Boston College had the difference-maker, and his name was Parker Milner.
At the beginning of the season, perhaps we thought Milner might not be the guy going forward. After all, the extent of our file on him was “he’s the dude who backs up John Muse,” and when your predecessor wins two national championships, that’s a tough act to follow. Now, nobody gets to question who the starting goalie is for this BC team going forward. The Eagles have won thirteen consecutive games, and Milner has been in-net for all of them. On this weekend in particular, Milner earned his keep against an aggressive UMass squad. He even got an assist on the game-winning goal; how’s that for coming up big?
As all three remaining quarterfinals series are undecided, BC’s next opponent is not yet known.