Lowell, Mass. - The game went in the books as a tie, but for UMass Lowell, the game felt more like a win. The River Hawks rallied for two goals in the third period for a 2-2 tie against No. 1 Boston College in front of a standing-room only crowd of 7,649 at the Tsongas Center.
"We were treated to a good hockey game tonight. Whenever you get a point from the number one team in the country you should be fairly pleased. I thought we earned it. We didn't get the start we were looking for, but to come back that way it felt like a win," said UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin.
"Two of the better teams in the country went toe-to-toe for the weekend. I think both Norm and myself learned a lot about our clubs. This is the type of hockey you'll see down the stretch," said Jerry York.
The game remained scoreless until midway through the second period when Boston College struck twice in just under two minutes.
Johnny Gaudreau pushed his point streak to 28 games when the Calgary Flames draft pick evaded detection and slipped a loose puck into the back of the net from the left side. The play started with Kevin Hayes firing a puck on net from the right boards. Patrick Brown was able to jolt the puck loose in the middle of a scrum in the crease.
Shortly there after, Brown started another sequence leading to an Eagles goal. The captain found a wide-open Isaac MacLeod at the blue line. He quickly passed the puck down to the right of the goal to a waiting Ryan Fitzgerald who re-directed the puck past UMass Lowell goaltender Doug Carr.
The River Hawks had some chances to gain some momentum early in the third period, but were denied by a bouncing puck that fluttered just wide and then moments later robbed by a sprawling Thatcher Demko.
With BC freshman Chris Calnan in the box for an unnecessary high-sticking penalty, UMass Lowell got on the board for the first time all weekend at the 6:42 mark. Adam Chapie skated out from the left half wall and ripped a wrister above the blocker of Demko who was screened by one of his own defenseman, MacLeod, on the shot.
The River Hawks tied the score with 10:51 to play in regulation on an absolute rocker from A.J. White. The sophomore scored his fourth goal of the season when he collected a blocked Zack Kamrass shot and roofed it over Demko's glove.
UMass Lowell really fed off the energy of the crowd after tying the score with more sustained offensive pressure than in the first two-and-a-half periods.
"I felt like we were going to get a third, but it never materialized. That was part of the message in the locker room before the third period. If you give the crowd a chance to get into it, you will see two goals and possibly three," said Bazin.
"You have 7,649 people in the stands and that creates a lot of energy. It's an exciting place to play. It's good for college hockey when you have full houses. It's a record-breaking crowd," Bazin emphasized.
"I'm disappointed in the fact that we had a two-goal lead in the third period, but I can't fault Thatcher. Both were kind of screen shots,"
Both Demko for Boston College and Carr for UMass Lowell were terrific in net. Demko made 28 saves to improve to 13-1-3 in his rookie season while Carr, playing on senior night, stopped 41 pucks, including a big one on Fitzgerald in overtime.
"Fitzgerald had an unbelievable chance in the OT that Carr stopped with his left pad. It was a quick shot from the slot. It was a big time save. Both goaltenders were probably the stars of the game," said York.
Boston College (25-4-4) wrapped up the Hockey East regular season championship last weekend, and will face Notre Dame on Saturday in its final game of the regular season.
UMass Lowell (20-8-4) remained in second place, one point ahead of Northeastern, with a trip to Vermont on tap in the final weekend of the regular season.
"We'll take any kind of energy we can get this time of year, and hopefully we'll take that to Vermont," said Bazin. "We face an enormous challenge facing them in their home rink for two games."
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.