LOWELL — It started with a two-game sweep of New Hampshire Dec. 6 and 7.
For three months, Boston College had been mowing down opponents at a remarkable clip. The only semi-blemish in the Eagles’ unbeaten streak was a 3-3 tie against nonconference opponent Brown Jan. 11.
Other than that, it had been all victories for BC – 17 of them, to be exact.
But in their last game of February, the top-ranked Eagles surrendered a two-goal lead and settled for a 2-2 tie with No. 7 UMass-Lowell on Saturday night at Tsongas Center in front of a rink-record 7,649.
For the visitors, it felt more like a loss despite salvaging a point, and for the home team, it felt more like a victory given the scrappy comeback.
“I’m disappointed in the fact that we had a two-goal lead in the third period but I can’t fault [goaltender Thatcher Demko],’’ said BC coach Jerry York. “Both [goals] were kind of screen shots. I thought he played very well, as did [Lowell’s Doug] Carr. The goalies were probably the stars of the series.
“They’re a tenacious club, that’s why their record is so good and why they’re ranked top 10 in the country. I would’ve liked to close it out because we had a two-goal lead but a tie is a tie.’’
The Eagles’ last defeat was Nov. 29 against Holy Cross. Since then, they are 17-0-2.
The unbeaten streak coincides with York putting together the super line of junior left wing Johnny Gaudreau, senior center Bill Arnold, and senior right wing Kevin Hayes.
Gaudreau’s second-period goal during a power play extended the sniper’s scoring streak to 28 games, with 26 goals and 29 assists in that span.
Considering the River Hawks were shut out, 3-0, by Demko Friday night, they didn’t come out with as much aggressiveness as expected.
They were outshot by the Eagles, 11-5, in the first period.
In the second, Gaudreau kicked the offense into gear with his rebound shot, which beat Carr (41 saves) at 10:56.
The Eagles (25-4-4, 16-1-2) made it a 2-0 game less than two minutes later.
Senior center Patrick Brown, who assisted on Gaudreau’s goal, threw the puck from the right boards over to defenseman Isaac MacLeod, whose slap pass to freshman left wing Ryan Fitzgerald led to the redirect past Carr at 12:52.
UML coach Norm Bazin called a timeout at 15:51 to talk things over.
But the River Hawks didn’t get on track offensively until a power-play goal at 6:42 of the third. With BC freshman right wing Chris Calnan off for high sticking, sophomore right wing Adam Chapie beat Demko (28 saves) from the left circle through a screen.
The determined River Hawks evened it at 9:09 when sophomore left wing A.J. White picked up a loose puck after a blocked shot and fired it into the top right corner of the net from the left circle.
Both teams had opportunities in the extra five minutes but couldn’t convert.
“Whenever you can get a point from the No. 1 team in the country, you should be fairly pleased,’’ said Bazin, whose team is 20-8-4 overall and 10-5-3 in Hockey East.
“I thought we earned it. Certainly, we didn’t get the start we were looking for. But to come back that way, it kind of feels like a win. Sometimes when you tie, it feels like a loss. Today, it felt like a win at the very end.
“I think we’ve got some things to work on but scoring a power-play goal, and putting that type of pressure on that team in the third period, I felt we were going to get a third [goal], it just never materialized.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.