After a weekend in which Boston College gave up 13 goals, defense became a point of emphasis.
Point well taken.
The Eagles shut out Massachusetts, 2-0, to hold onto second place in Hockey East and extend their overall record to 7-3-1. While the win lacked the excitement of last Saturday’s 8-6 barnburner over New Hampshire, it represented a necessary step in BC’s attempt to defend its Hockey East and NCAA titles.
“Sometimes games get away from both teams,” BC coach Jerry York said. “That’s what happened last week.
“But the big games, the tournament games, are 3-2, and 2-1. You have to be able to win both types of games, but most are going to be tight checking [like this one]. This is more like the games we’ll see in March and April.”
Though high-scoring veterans like Brock Bradford, Benn Ferriero, Brian Gibbons, and Ben Smith highlight the Eagles roster, the scoring load fell on freshmen Cam Atkinson, Barry Almeida, and Paul Carey. And on the power play, no less.
“You watch the older guys, Brock, Benny, and Smitty, and look and try to imitate them on the [power play],” Atkinson said. “When you get the chance, you try not to let them down.
Atkinson’s chance, a one-timer on the right post, came on a perfect setup by Almeida. Carey whacked in a rebound of his own shot.
John Muse made 27 saves for the shutout. In a losing effort, Dan Meyers stopped 36-of-38 shots.
UMass (5-4-1, 3-3-1 HEA) has now suffered two straight shutouts after exploding for a 5-1 win over Boston University.
“[The loss] came down to two factors, discipline and execution,” UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon said. “The effort was there, but our discipline was really questionable. You can’t give that team eight power plays and expect not pay a price.
“And when you’re not scoring goals, you’re not finishing plays and that’s a matter of execution.”
Serious first period scoring chances were almost non-existent, not even during a UMass five-on-three man advantage lasting 43 seconds. Perimeter passing characterized that squandered chance and perimeter shots typified the opportunities.
Six and a half minutes into the second period, UMass generated a terrific chance on a pass threaded from inside the offensive zone to Casey Wellman breaking in all alone in front. Muse made the stop, however, and the game remained scoreless.
At 14:48, BC took the lead when from the left boards, Almeida fed Atkinson on the far post and Atkinson one-timed it before Meyers could move over.
The game stayed 1-0 until Carey scored his fourth goal with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.
The two teams complete their home-and-home series with a Saturday game at UMass.