CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- It is rare to see a Boston College team struggle to score as this year’s had for several games.
That was, until Friday.
The Eagles broke out of a funk in impressive fashion, scoring all three goals they would need in the first period and doubling their lead by game’s end in a 6-1 win over UMass at Kelley Rink.
“That was nice for us, kind of a workmanlike effort from our team,” said BC head coach Jerry York, whose team held a convincing 46-13 shot advantage. “We’d been on a really tough stretch over the last four or five games, so you get a little more confidence when you score goals. … The idea is to get some red lights on, and tonight we did that.”
Even more critical in the win was that six different players found the back of the net as BC improved to 15-9-2 on the season and 10-3-1 in Hockey East play, a mark that is three points better than second-place Boston University.
BC had scored just eight goals in its six previous games, dating back to its first Hockey East loss of the season Dec. 10 at Notre Dame.
Freshman David Cotton scored BC’s opening goal of the game and also added two assists, while senior defenseman Scott Savage also posted three points. Cotton’s sophomore linemate Christopher Brown posted a three-assist night for the first time in his collegiate career, including one to Savage for BC’s fourth goal.
“I thought we did a good job moving the puck around. It’s always good when you have multiple lines creating opportunities for each other,” Brown said. “Both my linemates (Cotton and senior Austin Cangelosi) played very well tonight, and it wasn’t just them. It was the defense jumping into the play. I thought we had a good forecheck and created turnovers down low.”
After a scoreless start to the first period, BC’s offense struck often in the latter half and built an insurmountable lead while holding the visitors to just one shot on goal in the frame.
Cotton got the Eagles on the board first 12:32 into the first period as assistant captain Cangelosi fed a cross-ice pass to the right circle. From there, the rookie from Texas caught UMass rookie goaltender Ryan Wischow out of position for his eighth goal of the season.
Rookie defenseman Julius Mattila doubled the hosts’ lead at 14:24 as he took Luke McInnis’ perfect pass through a seam and shot his third goal of the year over Wischow’s glove from right between the circles, while BC’s third goal hit Cangelosi in the back and bounced home with 4.2 seconds let in the frame.
“I thought we were crisper tonight and that leads to shots on goal,” York said. “We’ve played pretty well over the last couple games, but just didn’t score goals. We’d been playing well, but I haven’t been disappointed with them. I want more red lights. It was nice to see that tonight.”
The Minutemen finally countered 7:53 into the middle period as senior Ray Pigozzi fired a dart past BC freshman Ryan Edquist from the top of the left side circle. Sophomore Ivan Chukarov pried a puck free in his own end, and Pigozzi scored after senior captain Steven Iacobellis made a quick pass to start transition.
Pigozzi’s fifth goal of the season was the only one to beat Edquist as he stopped 12 saves en route to his fourth win in six games as the backup to Joseph Woll, including seven of the eight he saw in the second frame.
“Ryan Edquist didn’t handle a lot of shots, but I thought he looked pretty confident in the net and handled the puck well,” York said after the Minnesota native rookie improved to 4-1-1. “He’s earned it and had some really good outings for us. It was good to see him rewarded with a ‘W.’”
Savage lifted the Eagles back to a three-goal lead as Brown sent the puck out of the corner and right into the left circle, where the senior blueliner beat UMass reliever Nic Renyard to the short side at the 17:02 marker.
Sophomores Michael Kim and J.D. Dudek scored goals on two of BC’s 12 third-period shots, giving it six different scorers for the second time this season. Oddly enough, the first instance was on Oct. 29 at UMass.
Kim took a classmate Colin White’s feed and shot in his fourth goal of the season from just inside the blue line at the 0:57 marker, while Dudek missing on a couple second-period chances in quick succession in the second period with a goal through Renyard’s five-hole that Savage set up at 16:14.
UMass head coach Greg Carvel commended his team’s effort despite the negative result, but mistakes found the back of the net fast as the Minutemen fell to 5-17-1.
“Our margin for error is extremely thin, especially against skilled teams, and I thought that was the case tonight,” Carvel said. “We had two breakdowns in the D-zone and they quickly capitalized, and I think three goals where they just found ways to throw pucks to the net and they found their way in.”