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After a shaky start to the Greg Brown Era for Boston College that included a loss to Holy Cross and a sweep at the hands of Merrimack, the Eagles continued to show steady improvement on Tuesday night, following up a four-point weekend against Northeastern last weekend with a victory over a ranked opponent, defeating UMass Lowell 3-2 at Conte Forum.
With the team’s leading scorer, junior Trevor Kuntar out of the line-up serving a one-game suspension for an incident that occurred at the end of BC’s Saturday night win, it was the Eagles’ youngsters that stepped up.
Star freshman forward Cutter Gauthier got the scoring started at 6:21 of the first period when he came down the left wing and wired a wrist shot past Lowell goalie Henry Welsch. The Eagles extended their lead late in the first period when sophomore Connor Joyce scored his first career goal by jamming home a rebound of a Mike Posma shot.
The River Hawks responded quickly in the second period, however, with a goal by Owen Cole 1:08 into the period. With momentum on their side, Lowell would tie the game at 12:50 of the second period on a goal by Zach Kaiser.
That set up a decisive third period, and it was BC that was able to make the extra play. On a power play early in the third period, freshman Oskar Jellvik picked up a loose puck near the left point and made a quick spin move to break free from a Lowell defender. Jellvik came down the left wing and in a play similar to Gauthier’s first period goal, Jellvik fired a low, hard wrist shot to the far side of the net that beat Welsch to give Boston College the lead.
Lowell’s offense was never able to mount a serious threat to tie the game and Boston College was able to ride Jellvik’s goal to a 3-2 victory.
The victory moves Boston College to 4-4-2 on the season, but heading in the right direction after a difficult start to the season. It also temporarily moves them into a tie with Lowell for fifth place in Hockey East, though both Lowell and seventh-place Boston University lead BC in terms of winning percentage. UMass Lowell, who came into the game having won five of their last six and ranked 14th in the nation, now falls to 7-4-0 on the season.
-This game looked like it might have been over early after Boston College took a quick lead on Gauthier’s goal and came out of the first period up 2-0. Credit UMass Lowell for showing some impressive push back to get a quick goal back in the second period and then eventually tie it up.
The River Hawks actually had a chance to take the lead late in the second period with about three minutes left when they got a loose puck to the net front that just rolled through an open crease rather than finding a way across the line. If UMass Lowell goes up 3-2 heading into the third period, it’s potentially a very different hockey game.
-Lowell came into tonight’s game ranked 7th in the still-very-early Pairwise Rankings—the loss dropped them to 11th—on the back of a strong road split at….*checks notes*…*twice*….Michigan State.
This was my second time watching UMass Lowell this season and it’s basically the same Lowell we’ve all known and loved in the Norm Bazin. Not very exciting offensively, but an incredibly honest and disciplined hockey team that is going to make the opposition work really hard for whatever they get.
That said, I do wonder if there is a ceiling to the way Lowell plays, and if that ceiling is starting to shrink. In 2016-2017, the River Hawks swept the Hockey East regular season and playoff titles and appeared in their fifth NCAA Tournament in six seasons under Norm Bazin. But since that point, the River Hawks have only made one NCAA Tournament, and that came last year, which was an absolutely dreadful year for Hockey East.(They were also 11th in the PWR in 2020 when the season got shut down, so likely but not firmly in)
They set a pretty high baseline for basic competence defensively, but it seems more teams are able to meet that level more consistently. The skill development revolution is starting to hit college hockey and it’s getting harder for teams to park the bus in front of their own net for 60 minutes and grind out low-scoring victories.
-Boston Bruins 2021 fifth round pick Oskar Jellvik got his first career goal tonight on the game-winner, but already had six assists on the season, meaning he’s now up to seven points through his first nine collegiate games. That’s a pretty solid start for a freshman in his Draft+2 year. I really like Jellvik’s ability to think one-step ahead and anticipate offensive plays. He showed that on the goal, setting up his defender for a wicked spin move that created a quality chance for him. Definitely a player to keep an eye on in the future, because he looks like a nice value for a fifth round pick.