It was no Friday night picnic for No. 1 Boston College, but the Eagles (6-1-0; 4-0-0 Hockey East) stayed perfect in league play, outlasting UMass-Lowell, 4-2, before 5,162 at Tsongas Arena, and spoiling the River Hawks' league home opener in the process.
The Eagles got the quick drop on Norm Bavin's River Hawk squad (2-2-0; 0-1-0 HE) with Paul Carey's shorthanded strike just 3:18 into the contest, while BC captain Tommy Cross was cooling his heels in the box for a two-minute interference call. At 4:24 of the middle stanza, Steven Whitney stretched BC's lead to 2-0 with his third tally of the season.
The River Hawks, however, rallied before their home crowd and knotted the game on second-period tallies by Michael Budd and Matt Ferreira. Undaunted, the Eagles responded when freshman Johnny Gaudreau converted a feed from Cross at 18:42 for his fourth goal of the season and the eventual game-winner.
The two teams combined for 14 penalties (seven each), but neither could register a power-play goal. Senior Barry Almieda put an exclamation point on the BC win with an empty-netter with 65 ticks left in the game, erasing any hopes of a River Hawk comeback.
BC netminder Parker Milner, the game's first star, ran his personal record to 6-1-0 on the season, registering 27 saves. Meanwhile, Lowell's Doug Carr (1-1-0) stopped 16 BC shots.
On Saturday, the two teams meet again at BC's Conte Forum.
UMass 2, Boston University 2 (OT)
It's shaping up to be another learning season for the UMass Minutemen (1-2-2; 0-2-2 HE), which might leave fans in Amherst feeling restless. The Minutemen, who were BU coach Jack Parker's pick to be the surprise team in Hockey East this year, jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a first-period power-play strike by T.J. Syner and Conor Sheary's second of the season at 6:08 of the second. But the Terriers (2-2-1; 1-1-1 HE) kept applying pressure, and knotted the score on even-strength goals by Matt Nieto (5) at 15:45 of the second and Sahir Gill (2) at 5:16 of the third. From that point on, it was the Kieran Millan/Kevin Boyle Show, as the BU and UMass netminders, respectively, stopped everything that came their way, including during the five minutes of overtime. The two teams meet again Saturday, at BU's Agganis Arena.
Merrimack 4, Vermont 1
The Vermont Catamounts (1-2-0; 0-1-0 HE), like alum Tim Thomas' Bruins, may have been suffering a hangover after last Sunday's dramatic come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Friday night, paced by Jesse Todd's two goals, the undefeated Merrimack Warriors (5-0-0; 3-0-0 HE) ruined Vermont's homecoming, pasting a 4-1 loss on the Catamounts at Gutterson Fieldhouse. Visiting Merrimack put themselves in the driver's seat from the get-go, on two first-period goals by Ryan Flanigan and Todd. Vermont's Sebastian Stalberg cut the lead in half with a power-play goal at 5:08 of the second, but Todd responded with his own power-play tally at 16:50. MC's Shawn Bates capped the scoring with another power-play marker at 17:17 of the final stanza. MC's Joe Cannata finished with 22 saves, while UVM's Rob Madore (23 saves) absorbed the loss. On Saturday, the teams renew acquaintances, again in Burlington.
Maine 5, Providence 4 (OT)
Keep an eye on Nate Leaman's Friars (2-2-1; 2-1-0 HE). Virtually left for dead before the season started, Providence has been raising eyebrows since starting 2-0-0 in league play. But Tim Whitehead's Black Bears weren't ruffled, even after surrendering a 4-3 lead when Friar Steven Shamanski's rung up his first tally of the season at 13:50. In a true seesaw battle in Orono, the Black Bears regrouped in overtime and scratched out a 5-4 league win, thanks to senior Brian Flynn's strike 2:50 into the extra session. Maine's Joey Diamond had a big night, with three points on two goals and an assist on Flynn's game-winner. The two squads locks horns again on Saturday night at Alfond Arena.
New Hampshire 2, Union 1 (OT)
Finally, a win for the Wildcats (1-4-1; 0-3-0 HE). And, even though it was a non-conference bout, you can bet Dick Umile will take it. In typical fashion this year, his Wildcats did it the hard way. After a scoreless first period, New Hampshire took the lead on John Henrion's unassisted tally at 4:04 of the second. However, the Wildcats couldn't keep the Dutchmen (2-1-3) off the board, and Mat Bodie tied the game at the 8:39 mark of the third. But Wildcat Kevin Goumas saved the night for 4,972 UNH faithful at the Whittemore Center, potting the winner 31 seconds into overtime. UNH's Matt DiGirolamo stood tall, finishing with 37 saves for the Wildcats, while Union's Roy Groesenick had 21 stops in a losing effort. UNH hopes to make it two in a row on Saturday, when the Wildcats, looking for their first Hockey East win, face off against the Northeastern Huskies in Durham, N.H.