NCAA Hockey Tournament: BC's other guys step up as Eagles beat Lowell to advance to Frozen Four

Ian McCoshen scored the game-winning goal to send BC to the Frozen Four. - Matt Dewkett (mrd-photos.com)

The usual suspects for Boston College found the scoreboard, but two late goals from freshmen pushed the Eagles into the Frozen Four.

WORCESTER, Mass. - It had been over two weeks since a player not named Johnny Gaudreau, or Kevin Hayes, or Bill Arnold scored a goal for Boston College.

Maybe they were just waiting for the best possible time.

Trailing UMass Lowell by a goal early in the third period of its Northeast Regional final on Sunday, the Eagles got a pair from freshmen Ryan Fitzgerald and Ian McCoshen, and downed the River Hawks 4-3 to advance to the Frozen Four.

"We got contributions from a lot of different people," said BC head coach Jerry York. "Certainly the two late goals in the third period, both by freshmen... it was a great way to win the game. Two late goals by two young guys."

The tilt began as the story normally goes for BC, with its top unit putting the Eagles ahead. A Lowell turnover midway through the first sprung Gaudreau on an odd-man break. The nation's leading scorer patiently carried the puck toward the goal line, before slipping a pass through Zack Kamrass and onto the tape of Kevin Hayes, who found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Lowell responded with an answer late in the period on a man advantage. Michael Kapla took the puck at the point and fired a shot that got through everyone, including Thatcher Demko to knot the score at one heading into intermission.

The teams exchanged chances in the second period, but it appeared as if neither would break through until they traded late tallies. BC struck first, when Bill Arnold collected a blocked Gaudreau shot and beat Connor Hellebuyck to make it a 2-1 Eagles lead.

The River Hawks only took 70 seconds to respond though, when a loose puck above the crease was banged home by Josh Holmstrom to tie things back up with only 1:16 remaining in the middle frame.

"We just tried not to let it phase us," said Holmstrom of falling behind. "We know Boston College is good team, and they're probably going to score some goals, but we came back right at them a couple of times today to get the next goal."

The third period began right where the second left off, and Lowell quickly grabbed its first lead of the day. Only 43 seconds in, Evan Campbell drove hard to the net, and threw a puck toward goal that deflected off the skate of Scott Savage and through Demko for a 3-2 Lowell lead.

As quickly as the River Hawks responded to Arnold's tally in the second, BC had an even quicker answer in the third. Just 21 seconds after Lowell grabbed its first lead of the day, Fitzgerald cut through its defense, and tucked a puck around Hellebuyck to bring the game even at three.

Fitzgerald's goal was the first not scored by Gaudreau, Arnold, or Hayes since Fitzgerald himself scored March 14 against Notre Dame in the Hockey East quarterfinals, a three-game span.

"We're not going to tell Johnny not to score," said York. "We need some goals, but it is good to see balance in your scoring, especially for Ian McCoshen to get a goal.

"It's nice to spread it around. As long as we get one more goal than our opposition, I'm pretty happy with our offense."

Depth scoring proved to be key, as McCoshen netted the decisive goal for BC later in the third. Teddy Doherty won a puck battle along the wall and fed McCoshen, who was all alone and had plenty of net to shoot at to put BC ahead 4-3.

"He's always talking, he's loud; he's one of the louder guys on the team," Doherty said of his defensive partner. "When I was coming down, I was thinking shoot all the way, but he was screaming, and thankfully I passed it over to him."

Boston College would ward off a late Lowell rally, as Demko made eight saves in the third, including a few with the goalie pulled to preserve the victory.

The win sends the Eagles back to the Frozen Four, their seventh trip in the last 11 years, and sets up a matchup with Union, a team that eliminated Boston College in regional play just last year.

"I definitely remember losing to them last year. They came in and drove us right out of the building," said Arnold. "We're going to respect them as an opponent-they've had a really good season-but like we've kind of been doing the last two weeks, we're going to focus on our play and what we need to do as a team to win."

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