LOWELL — For the better part of two tightly contested periods, highlighted by great goaltending at both ends of the ice, 10th-ranked UMass-Lowell had battled top-ranked Boston College to a scoreless stalemate. The River Hawks even outshot the defending NCAA national champions, 27-15.
“They were hard to get, the goals, that’s for sure,’’ said BC coach Jerry York after his Eagles tallied a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the River Hawks before 6,003 at the Tsongas Center. “And the first goal was certainly a very, very important goal for us.’’
BC senior winger Steven Whitney did the honors at 3:17 of the third period, taking a centering pass from sophomore Johnny Gaudreau and snapping off a shot from the high slot that beat UMass-Lowell goaltender Doug Carr.
“It was a great play all around, a clean breakout by our D,’’ Whitney said. “We had a three-man rush, maybe a four-man rush because [Patrick] Wey jumped in at the end, but Johnny Gaudreau just has eyes in the back of his head and saw me coming late and gave it to me.
“I think there was a little screen in front of the goalie there and I got it on net and it went in.’’
Whitney’s third goal of the season was all the Eagles needed to improve to 3-1-0 overall (and in Hockey East) against a talented River Hawk squad that outshot BC, 38-20.
The shutout was the sixth career and second in as many games for Parker Milner, who blanked Northeastern, 3-0, on BC’s banner night last Saturday at Conte Forum.
It marked the first time Milner recorded back-to-back shutouts since blanking Air Force (2-0) and Minnesota-Duluth (4-0) in the Worcester Regional of last year’s NCAA Tournament.
“I don’t know if I’m on a roll, but it’s good to get back on track,’’ said Milner. “I felt my first two games were pretty weak, so to have two strong ones, it feels pretty good.’’
Milner turned away 38 shots, and Carr made 19 saves.
The River Hawks put immediate puck pressure on Milner, outshooting the Eagles, 12-4, in the first period.
“They’re a good team and they throw a lot of shots at the net,’’ said Milner, whose defensemen kept Lowell’s trigger-happy forwards in check. “The guys kept them outside, but it’s a tough style to play against because they were just firing it from everywhere.’’
Milner was supported by BC’s standout penalty killing, which held the River Hawks scoreless on four chances.
The Eagles erased a pair of holding penalties in the second period without allowing Lowell a shot on net.
“I thought our PK was excellent,’’ York said. “They blocked shots and made plays and controlled the play very well in our offensive zone.’’
The Eagles stepped up their offensive attack in the second with 11 shots, more than twice as many as they had in the first period.
BC even generated three shorthanded bids, but those chances were turned away by Carr, whose only blemish came at 3:17 of the third.
The Eagles withstood a frenzied rally when UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin pulled Carr for an extra attacker.
Patch Alber missed a bid at an empty-netter, and Joseph Pendenza appeared to whiff on a wide-open backdoor bid in the waning seconds.
“I felt really good about the club, because we played a solid road game against a very good team,’’ said York, whose Eagles return home to Conte Forum Sunday to host the River Hawks. “That’s the measuring stick and we thought it would be a good measuring-stick weekend for us.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.