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Hockey Weekend in Review: Meeting with the Minutemen

UMass, or “Amherst,” as they prefer not to be called, is well known for rioting when a Boston sports team wins, loses, or otherwise participates in, a championship event. It was surprising, then, that they didn’t riot when BC won the national championship in 2012, and also 2010…and also 2008. Weird!

The Minutemen haven’t been very good these past few years. They have, however, played BC fairly well. Last season, BC went into Mullins and quickly found themselves in a hole that they had to work to dig themselves out of by outscoring the Minutemen 4-1 in the third period to force overtime, which they promptly won on a goal by (who else?) Johnny Gaudreau. I watched that game via a crappy illegal stream of the UMass scoreboard, complete with kiss-cam and cheesy graphics. When we won, my roommate and I went wild. It was awesome.

Anyway, with the new league format after expansion, it means that teams like BC have to perform very well in their two games against teams like UMass, because there aren’t many opportunities to earn those points back. The Eagles didn’t exactly do that.

Thursday, 11/14: Eagles 2, Minutemen 1

Before the game, we got word that Brian Billett would be starting. Since Billett started against Army, but didn’t play the full 60, I figured the coaching staff simply wanted to give Billett a real start. That would turn out to not be the case, as Thatcher Demko didn’t dress due to a hamstring injury. It’s unknown how long Demko will be out, but this is Billett’s chance to seize the starting job. He really has to prove himself now that he’s been given an opportunity to shine.

BC’s first period was legitimately awful. Possibly their worst period of the season. UMass controlled play from top to bottom and while BC outshot them, it certainly didn’t show. The Minutemen managed to score in the final two minutes of the period, giving them the lead and the momentum going into a crucial second period.

The second period, thankfully, was better. BC’s most consistent goalscorers in Gaudreau and Hayes managed to come through and give BC the lead. Both of them played well, tying for the team lead in shots with five. Gaudreau scored off of a beautiful cross-crease pass by Isaac MacLeod, who has improved his game immensely since the start of the season.

The third period brought with it a lot of controversy. UMass again took control, and after BC’s Mike Matheson took his third penalty of the night, they scored a goal. But, as it turns out, they didn’t. But also, they did. It’s confusing. Let me explain. The call on the ice was that UMass had scored. BC called a timeout and asked for the play to be reviewed, because they thought the play was offsides. Upon review, it was, and the goal was waved off. The Eagles and the Minutemen both went scoreless the rest of the game, and it ended in a 2-1 victory for BC. However, the league office issued a statement saying that the goal should not have been reviewed, as the rule states that a play can only be reviewed for offsides if the game is nationally televised. While it’s a weird rule, it is the rule. The game should have been tied 2-2, and with the way it had been going, it would not have surprised me to see UMass come away with the win, either in OT or regulation.

That brings us to the penalties. BC has been playing extremely well all year, but they have a glaring weakness in how many penalties they take. Mike Matheson, especially, needs to be more careful. He’s BC’s best defenseman and might even be one of the best in all of Hockey East, and if he’s in the box for 6 minutes a night, it hurts the team. It needs to stop, and it starts with discipline.

Friday, 11/15: Eagles 2, Minutemen 2

UMass came into Conte last year and made a big statement by winning 5-2. That was right in the middle of BC’s skid that they never really recovered from, and it hurt pretty bad to that team come into BC’s building and embarrass them. Friday was an opportunity to build on the previous night’s dodgy win.

BC played well enough. They definitely possessed the puck more than UMass did, but UMass didn’t allow them to play the transition game well. The Minutemen were excellent defensively, and they really shut down BC’s ability to open up the ice and make plays. UMass struck first after BC had a goal questionably waved off after it was ruled that Bill Arnold interfered with UMA goaltender Mac Haight. BC managed to tie the game within two minutes, and took the lead after Austin Cangelosi scored off of a Gaudreau pass.

The rest of the game played out fairly evenly, with UMass doing an incredible job of containing the potent BC offense. Late in the third period, Steve Santini, who sit out the previous game because of a game misconduct against Army, took another game misconduct after he absolutely crushed Steve Guzzo coming over the middle. The call was “unnecessary roughness,” which really isn’t something that gets called in a sport that isn’t football. It wasn’t even a headshot. A clean, hard, shoulder-to-shoulder hit. It meant that BC had to kill off a five minute powerplay. Of course, UMass was able to tie the game, and the game went to overtime, where neither team was able to score. Penalties were again the demise of the Eagles.

I want to take a chance here to talk about the band. At the first home game, we were all confused when there was no cowbell to lead the sieve chant. We shrugged it off, and brought our own to the next game. It worked well enough, but nobody could really hear it besides our section. At the Army game, the athletics department supplied us with a microphone to play the cowbell into, which made the sieve chant entirely student lead. At the UMass game, the team came out to the fight song as they usually do, and the band followed the fight song up with a rendition of “Zombie Nation,” which most Bruins fans should be familiar with. I knew something was up immediately.

Sure enough, after BC scored its first goal of the game, the band played the fight song and then immediately played “Zombie Nation” again, throwing off the timing of the chant. Thankfully, the student section isn’t stupid, and we know that they have to stop playing when the puck drops. We went on with the sieve chant as usual. Now, I don’t know what’s going on here, but someone is trying to put the sieve chant to rest. It’s not athletics. I don’t think they’d give us a microphone if they didn’t love it. Now, if anybody reading this is in the band, I don’t mean to imply that the entire band is at fault. It’s certainly not. It’s just clear that there are certain individuals somewhere that are trying to change things, and it’s not their place to.

Hopefully things are sorted out by the next BC home game, which isn’t for quite a while. The Eagles take a trip to Harvard on Wednesday and visit Maine on Saturday. Go Eagles!

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