On Tuesday night, in a make-up of February 8th’s snowed-out Hockey East conference game, the UMass-Lowell River Hawks defeated the Boston College Eagles at Conte Forum, 4-2. With the loss, the Eagles remain at 28 points but with now four games remaining in the regular season; three other teams — New Hampshire, Providence, and UMass-Lowell — are also tied with 28 points and four games left.
The first period saw a flurry of activity at all around the same time. UMass-Lowell got on the scoreboard first at the 10:41 mark; Brendan Silk was sent off for a hook and Scott Wilson connected for a power-play goal about a minute later (Ruhwedel, Wetmore). BC got it back nearly two minutes later as Bill Arnold scored for the first of two times on the evening (12:40; Jeke, Hayes). The major problem for the Eagles is that they gave it back only 23 seconds later as Josh Holmstrom scored his eighth of the season (Pendenza).
The second period featured nothing but penalties, but the third brought the greatest disappointment for the home team. Bill Arnold, BC’s offense for the evening, struck at 8:40 of the final frame after Derek Arnold went to the box for hooking (Doherty, Straight). That was Boston College’s only power play of the game, and it happened to tie the contest, 2-2. It only got worse from there, however, as Christian Folin netted the game-winning goal with 4:47 to go (Pendenza) and a Riley Wetmore empty-netter with 46 seconds left sealed the deal (Ruhwedel).
The story for Boston College was the same as it has been in many recent games: the Eagles take too many penalties, Johnny Gaudreau is invisible, and BC just isn’t doing all the little things it used to do that won big contests. All of these manifested themselves in Tuesday night’s UMass-Lowell loss.
If one is looking to assess the plain truth of the matter, Boston College hockey has not been a particularly dominant team for at least the last two months. Since their tie in Providence in December, a game that BC led inside of twenty seconds to go, the Eagles are just 7-7-3. Since before Christmas, the Eagles have played .500 hockey, which is a stark contrast to where the team was a year ago, streaking to their third title in five years. It seems like less of a probability this year as there are now a handful of teams in NCAA hockey playing better than them just as March approaches. BC is running out of time to get its act together.
UMass-Lowell is a very good team; that much cannot be questioned. All we can do here is evaluate the Eagles and where they go from here. When they slumped in December and January, the conventional wisdom was to wait until February. Outside of the Beanpot, where BC normally turns in a good effort (and was far and away the best team in the field), it hasn’t been very noteworthy. February was a better month than the others in terms of wins and losses, but this team has some deficiencies. Regrouping for the Hockey East title in a crowded race will be a particular challenge.
BC returns to the ice on Friday and Saturday for a home-and-home against Providence.