Boston College coach Jerry York frequently invites key sports figures to address his team on different inspirational subjects.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Celtics coach Doc Rivers have provided their wisdom to the Eagles. Last week, Bruins coach Claude Julien made an appearance and explained the importance of everyone having a role in winning.
For example, Julien said one of the key reasons the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 was the contributions of Shawn Thornton’s line.
On Sunday at Conte Forum, a BC fourth-line forward took that message to heart. Junior center Patrick Brown, who had one goal in his first 48 games, netted the winner on a shot from the left circle as the Eagles beat UMass, 3-2, to run their winning streak to six.
“We got a big boost from Brownie’s line,’’ said York, referring to Brown, Brooks Dyroff, and Brendan Silk. “As they were playing, we thought, ‘Hey, let’s give them more opportunities to play.’ Late in the game, they have not been playing and now they went out and played very well and got us a real big goal.’’
York said the point Julien made was an important one for his players.
“He mentioned the fact that everybody talks about top lines, second lines, power-play units, but they thought their Stanley Cup was a direct result of how well Thornton’s line played as a fourth line, especially in that seventh game with Vancouver. He said, ‘I don’t care what line you are on, you can influence the outcome of the game.’ And sure enough, our supposed fourth line influenced the game. It came at a critical time. For us to get that type of scoring, it’s going to really help our club.’’
BC (6-1-0) took an early lead, scoring a power-play goal at 1:23 of the opening period when Bill Arnold took a pass from Patrick Wey and beat Kevin Boyle (28 saves) from the slot.
UMass (2-4-0) pulled even at 10:01 on Steven Guzzo’s tally on the man advantage.
The Minutemen took their only lead of the contest at 1:42 of the third on Troy Power’s shot from the right circle.
Another key player for BC was defenseman Isaac MacLeod, who made a skate save at 6:35 of the third when goaltender Parker Milner (29 saves) lost his stick.
Freshman defenseman Michael Matheson pulled the Eagles even at 9:13 on his first collegiate goal. During an odd-man rush, Steven Whitney dropped a pass for Matheson, who was charging in late.
Matheson took a quick shot and Boyle was late with his glove hand and the puck sailed into the net.
That set the stage for Brown.
The past four meetings between the Minutemen and Eagles have been one-goal games and York knew the Minutemen would provide a stiff challenge.
“It was an enjoyable game for our players to play and not just because we won,’’ said York. “It was a well-played, very clean, very hard-hitting type of game. And Parker was outstanding in goal for us.’’
For first-year coach John Micheletto, a challenge for his team is learning how to close out opponents. On Oct. 19, UMass had a two-goal lead in the final four minutes against BC but wound up losing in overtime at the Mullins Center.
“Much like anything else, I think our guys feel like we deserve to be among the very best in this conference and among the very best in the country,’’ said Micheletto. “I know that’s a difficult thing to say when you look at our record but I think if you’ve seen us play, you know that we’re learning, you know that we’re getting better every game.
“We take albeit baby steps at times, but they are steps forward. I like to think that people don’t like playing against us.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.