With only one game this weekend, the #1 Boston College Eagles continued to stay hot as they extended their winning streak to nine games with a thrilling 4-3 win over Hockey East foe, Merrimack. Looking back on the game, things obviously looked real bleak for a little bit when the Warriors scored three goals in the first five minutes of the second period. For the second time this year, this Eagles squad showed some amazing resiliency and dominated the remaining 35 minutes of the game and ended up defeating Merrimack, 4-3 as they scored four unanswered goals. First things first, the first line was all over the ice once again for the Eagles. With Destry Straight out and the second line struggling at times, the combination of Johnny G, Mullane, and Steve Whitney was phenomenal as they were a combined +6 for the night and accounted for two of the four BC goals. At times this year, they have looked either good, really good, or just flat out dominant. Friday was one of those nights in which they were flat out dominant as they basically had the puck in the opposing end for what seemed like the whole second half of that hockey game. Both of the goals were nice plays but in the end, they were scored thanks to multiple bombs from Steven Whitney. Both times he didn't have much time and couldn't wind up for a slapper so instead he just let a couple of deadly snap shots go. I'm sure Merrimack and other teams will note that when you give a player like Whitney, who has a shot like that, some space, bad things will happen. The big story on the night in terms of the offense however was the play of the bottom six forwards, something that has been a bit of a problem during this otherwise flawless start to the year. Danny Linell's goal was not just a nice goal that completed the comeback, but it was assisted by linemates Cam Spiro and Mike Sit, showing that BC is slowly but surely starting to get some secondary scoring. I've said it about 100 times on here but it is extremely important for guys like these three to start putting the puck in the net, especially with a guy like Destry Straight out of the lineup.
On the defensive side of things, there was some major improvement as the game grew older. Once Merrimack scored kind of a fluke third goal, BC tightened things up in their own zone and started breaking the puck out better which allowed for multiple scoring chances. One guy who's value might be a little bit underrated but is nonetheless a crucial part of this teams success is Pat Wey and he has definitely been playing like one of the top defenseman in the league. His goal, a power play goal to cut the Merrimack lead to one, was not just a sign that he is becoming more offensive than he was in his first three years but it was a sign that he is becoming more and more confident in both ends. With the three freshman defenseman starting for BC, his leadership was going to go a long way in deciding how this team would fare in the early going...he deserves some serious credit not only for his play but his leadership with those young defenseman. Of course, it doesn't hurt when you have a guy like Parker Milner in the cage to help clean up any opposing chances. Two of the Merrimack goals, #1 and #2 might be ones he would have liked to have back but other than those, he was very solid once again for the Eagles. While his play wasn't what it was vs Notre Dame and BU, it was still good enough for an Eagle win and thats all that matters.
Overall, two points never hurts even if there were some sloppy moments in the game. It kind of felt like BC just wasn't in it mentally to start the second period and they paid for it by giving the Warriors a quick 3-0 lead. The resiliency in this team is something that certainly cannot be overlooked. Sure, BC might not trail a whole lot but in the last couple games in which they have (UMass x2 and Friday), they have battled back and eventually won the game with a late goal. In this league, when two teams are battling back and forth in a close game, two things are going to be the deciding factors. A-Do you get good goaltending and B-the talent level on your squad. There is no team in this league and maybe not even in the country that is as strong in these two categories like BC and because of that, they have found ways to win when a W seemed impossible to get. Now, the Eagles will enter what could possibly be one of the toughest stretches they will face all season. They get pretty good Dartmouth team at home on Saturday (4 PM start), have two games vs archrival BU in two weeks, travel to face a hot Providence squad, and will then head out to St Paul to face the Gophers (in which they will be without Johnny G). This game vs Dartmouth, while non-conference, is another big one in terms of the pairwise standings in which BC currently sits at third behind UNH and Denver. Hopefully, another solid week of practice will allow this team to get victory #10 on Saturday vs the Big Green.
GO EAGLES !