Boston College scores four goals in second, three in third to roll past UMass, 8-1, in Hockey East semifinals

UMass' Cam O'Neill fires a shot on goal against Boston College on Friday in the Hockey East Tournament semifinals at TD Garden in Boston.

UMass' Cam O'Neill fires a shot on goal against Boston College on Friday in the Hockey East Tournament semifinals at TD Garden in Boston. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

UMass goalie Michael Hrabal makes a save against Boston College in the Hockey East Tournament semifinals on Friday at TD Garden in Boston.

UMass goalie Michael Hrabal makes a save against Boston College in the Hockey East Tournament semifinals on Friday at TD Garden in Boston. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

UMass' Ryan Ufko skates with the puck against Boston College in the Hockey East semifinals at TD Garden on Friday.

UMass' Ryan Ufko skates with the puck against Boston College in the Hockey East semifinals at TD Garden on Friday. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 03-22-2024 7:55 PM

BOSTON — After scoring a pair of goals in the opening five minutes of its Hockey East Playoff quarterfinal game against Providence, the Massachusetts hockey team knew it needed another fast start against top-seeded Boston College in the semifinals at TD Garden on Friday. 

Early on, the Minutemen got that. Lucas Mercuri netted a goal 6:37 in that gave UMass the opening lead of the game, but BC went on the power play and tied it up two minutes later. 

The fifth-seeded Minutemen failed to score on a five-minute major called on the Eagles to close out the first period and from there, Boston College showed why it’s the No. 1 team in the country. 

The Eagles lit up the scoreboard four times in the second period and tacked on three in the third, running away with an 8-1 victory at the Garden to advance to the finals. 

Boston College (30-5-1) will play the winner of No. 2 Boston University and No. 3 Maine in the finals on Saturday at the Garden. 

“Against that team you better be at your best and we were a long way from it tonight, right from the start,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “I told the guys all week long we have to get off to a good start in this game and we gave them a lot of ways to have a strong start but we didn’t. I’m not sure what to make of the game. I have to watch it over but it didn’t feel like our group much at all tonight. BC is a tremendous team and an offensive powerhouse. We didn’t manage the puck very well and didn’t have much poise with the puck.” 

It was Gabe Perreault who gave the Eagles the lead in the second period, flying in from the right circle to tip in a deflected puck that followed a Ryan Leonard shot with 15:19 to go in the period. 

The floodgates opened from there. Cutter Gauthier drove to the net and slipped a turnaround pass to Andre Gasseau, who fired one past UMass keeper Michael Hrabal two minutes later to give BC a 3-1 lead. 

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With 3:57 to go in the third, Leonard smashed a shot from the point that was stopped in front, but Will Smith was there in front to knock it in off Hrabal to add to the Eagles lead. Less than one minute later, with 3:11 left in the period, Gauthier collected a rebound in the left circle and zipped a shot past Hrabal to give BC its 5-1 lead and capping off a nightmare second period for the Minutemen.

“Every time I looked out the puck was bouncing into the net,” Carvel said. “It wasn’t a traditional kind of goal. The second goal was below the goal line off the back of the goaltender, the third one is a pass behind the net when we have a guy standing in the slot and he needs to go cover the stick. Another bounced in the air. They were going in strange ways. They got a lot of chances.”

After giving up three third period goals to UConn in the quaterfinals, the Eagles made sure not to have a repeat performance in the semis. Boston College squashed any hopes of a UMass third period comeback, scoring twice in the opening six minutes of the third. 

Aram Minnetian rocketed a shot in from the point with 17 minutes to play that put the Eagles ahead, 6-1, before Smith found Gauthier wide open in front of the Minutemen net and the freshman put it home, giving BC a 7-1 lead with 14:56 to play. 

With 2:31 to go, Gauthier beat Hrabal glove side to close out the scoring. 

“Michael would probably like to have a couple back in the second but I thought he played really well in the third and made a lot of big saves in the third,” Carvel said. “I don’t worry about Michael. He’s the same every day.” 

It was Mercuri who got the Minutemen on the board, blistering in a shot from the slot off a dish from Ryan Lautenbach that gave UMass a 1-0 lead. 

The lead didn’t last long. Aydar Suniev was whistled for a tripping penalty 43 seconds later and with 11:58 to go in the first, Leonard, an Amherst native, put home a rebound following a shot from Smith to knot the game at one. 

With 5:26 to go in the first, and at a stoppage, Carvel challenged an earlier call on a hit to the head on the Eagles which was confirmed, giving UMass a five-minute major to close out the period. The Minutemen put four shots on goal during the major but all were stopped by Jacob Fowler, who finished with 27 saves. 

“The power play could have helped us out with that five minute major,” Carvel said. “We moved it around pretty well but all in all, it was pretty unfortunate for us tonight.” 

UMass now awaits whether it makes the NCAA Tournament, with the bracket set to be released on Sunday. 

“We were pretty focused on the game tonight,” Carvel said. “It’ll come right down to the wire. If we make it, great. If we don’t, we only have ourselves to blame.”