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Boston College Holds Off UMass Charge for 2-1 Victory

Freshman walk-on Mac Haight made 31 saves for the Minutemen, but it wasn't enough.

Kevin Hayes scored the game-winning goal for Boston College in a 2-1 victory over UMass on Thursday night.
Kevin Hayes scored the game-winning goal for Boston College in a 2-1 victory over UMass on Thursday night.

Amherst, Mass. - Two goals in the second period were the difference as Boston College skated past UMass, 2-1, on Thursday night at the William D. Mullins Center. The final score, however, will not be what most people are talking about.

UMass appeared to tie the game 3:48 into the third period, but after a lengthy review the goal was nullified due to the play being deemed offsides. That is where the controversy came, as there was uncertainty whether or not a goal could be called for offsides.

"We'll certainly explore any options. As I was told there was a decision made on the ice. I have not been able to hear back from the league office or the Director of Officials," said UMass coach John Micheletto.

In a fairly new rule Boston College coach Jerry York called timeout to ask for the review, but whether reviewing an offsides call is legitimate is still being debated.

"I thought [the NCAA] changed that this year," said York of the rule. "[The NCAA] changed that rule so that you would have to call a timeout to review it. If you did use a timeout you were wasting your timeout," said York.

There appears to be little UMass can do except wondering what could have been on a very frustrating and unusual night. "It's definitely a first. It's obviously frustrating. I don't know what the exact rule is. I don't know what they can do about it now, but hopefully get it right in the future," said UMass junior Troy Power.

A weekend after losing twice to New Hampshire by a combined score of 13-1, including a 9-0 thrashing on home ice, UMass responded with an inspired effort against one of the best teams in the nation.

"There are no moral victories in this league. Coach mentioned tonight how close the margin of error is. We all feel like we gave a great effort, but it's a tight league from top to bottom.

The Minutemen took a 1-0 late in the first period when Brendan Gracel's persistence finally pushed the puck past Boston College goaltender Brian Billett. Shane Walsh and Colin Shea assisted on the goal.

BC tied the score at one when Johnny Gaudreau finished off a nice cross-crease pass from defenseman Isaac MacLeod who was cutting in from the left boards. The goal, scored midway through the middle period, gave momentum to the Eagles.

A little over four minutes later Danny Linell's shot from the point hit the post, but Kevin Hayes was right there to swat the rebound into the back of the net past UMass goaltender Mac Haight.

Haight started the year as the third string goaltender, but got the nod against one of the top programs in the country due to an injury to starter Steven Mastalerz and the poor play of second stringer Alex Wakaluk.

"I was pretty nervous," said Haight, who made 31 saves in his first collegiate start. "It helped having 18 other players out there blocking shots and getting sticks in lanes. They battled so hard," added Haight of his teammates.

The game wasn't the prettiest for the visitors, but the win marked the fifth consecutive for the Eagles, including four Hockey East victories for a perfect 4-0 start in conference play.

"The power play goal, really good penalty killing and the play of Brian Billett are the three things that jump out to me the most," said York.

Billett stopped 28 of 29 shots he faced. The junior from Brunswick, Maine has been rotating with freshman Thatcher Demko, but Billett will be the man for the time being. Demko is out one to two weeks with a minor hamstring injury.

The two teams will meet again on Friday night at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill for the finale of the home-and-home series.

"I think we just need to have the same mentality that we did [Thursday] and take it into [Friday]. They have a tough place to play. It's a little smaller. The game will be a little faster. Hopefully we can have some success there," said Power when asked what his team needed to do to have success at Boston College.

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Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.