|Steve Whitney celebrates his first goal.|
Going into tonights matchup vs the Merrimack Warriors, the Eagles had not trailed at one point in a game since the third period two weeks ago vs UMass. On that day, they were down just one goal in the third period and were able to climb back. Tonight, not unlike the second game of the year @ UMass, the Eagles were once again down three goals and were in danger in losing their first game in over a month. After the visting Warriors scored three goals in less than four and a half minutes to start the second period and go up 3-0, BC, led by stars Johnny G and Steve Whitney, were able to overtake an inspired Warrior team and claim another Hockey East victory. First things first, I thought Steven Whitney and Johnny G were sensational tonight. Both of Whitney's goals, the first one and the game winning one in the third, were complete snipes set up thanks to the always nifty playmaking abilities of one Johnny G. Another positive for BC ? A bottom six guy scored a goal, and two others had an assist on it. The fourth line of Mike Sit, Danny Linell, and Cam Spiro hooked up for BC's second goal in which Linell took a pass from Spiro, carried the puck into the zone, and was able to beat MC goalie Sam Marotta short side. I thought most of the first period was real good for the Eagles as they certainly controlled the pace of the game but couldn't convert on chances like a breakaway from Whitney, and other numerous high percentage shots from inside the blue line. On the defensive end, I thought BC did a good job of keeping the majority of Merrimack's chances from the perimeter which allowed Parker Milner to make a lot of easy saves in the first stanza.
The second period however was like a whole different game than the first. Right out of nowhere Merrimack came flying out of the gate and scored three goals in the first five minutes which completely stunned the home crowd. One of the goals was a bad two on one goal in which one of the BC defenseman failed to get back and pick up his man which allowed an MC forward to fire one up and over Milner from the faceoff dot. The second goal was kind of a weird play as it looked like BC was about to clear it but the puck ended up on the stick of an MC defenseman who ripped one past Milner from the blue line. Probably one he would like to have back. After another MC goal just minutes after Bigos' bomb from the point, Coach York called his timeout and must have given the team a pretty good talk because they immediately woke right up. It is one thing when you have guys that are good hockey players and can make plays for you on a consistent basis but it's another to have players that can completely take over a game at times. Steven Whitney and Johnny G did that tonight in the final 35 minutes of play. Merrimack was doing a good job of being physical and preventing the odd man ruses but once Whitney put home his first goal thanks to an absolute bomb from inside the blue line, everyone in the building knew what was coming. After getting a rare power play chance just seconds after the goal, BC made it count by generating multiple chances on Marotta and were finally rewarded with a Pat Wey rebound goal. Compared to last week, I thought the power play was really good tonight. Not only did they pot a goal but they were able to settle it down and make good plays instead of trying to pass through a billion opposing sticks in order to get the perfect goal. Danny Linell's goal soon after Wey's was certainly a real bright spot. With Destry Straight out tonight (i'll get to that later), I really thought guys like Linell, Sit, and Spiro played hard and were rewarded with a long awaited goal. Great to see all three of those guys hook up at once for the tally.
I thought the momentum that was gained late in the second certainly carried over to the third for BC. Not only did they win the game by scoring the only third period goal, they dominated Merrimack for pretty much the final 20 minutes. The game winning goal was just a great play by two great players. In what will be a story you will hear a lot this year, Johnny G found a speeding Steve Whitney near the MC blue line which was followed by a Whitney shot that almost snapped the crossbar in half (it hit the bar and then went in). You would be pretty hard pressed to find such a little guy that has as good of a shot as Whitney's.
Look, the second half of this hockey game was a display of effort and character that was very much like what we saw in Amherst a few weeks ago. After giving up the three goals, BC didn't just take the game over offensively but they limited Merrimack's chances on Milner. Thanks to the quality play of the defenseman in the third period, I can't really remember the Warriors getting any point blank shots or odd man rushes in the final 20 minutes. It's pretty difficult to describe how good Johnny G and Steve Whitney were tonight. They are, along with Pat Mullane, the best line in this league and quite frankly, I don't think theres another one that can match it. Their ability to make something out of nothing and get grade A chances on basically every shift is something you don't see everyday in this league. The second line was ok, but the bottom two continue to improve game by game. When Mike Sit and Danny Linell are playing at the level they were tonight, it just another weapon to the already loaded arsenal for the Eagles. In the end, there were some issues at times but the speed, effort, and skill were too much for Merrimack.
Why BC Won
1. Steve Whitney and Johnny G took over the game. Pure domination...plain and simple.
2. The PK. Really thought the penalty kill was good tonight. Merrimack's power play really struggled to adjust to the speed that BC comes at you with on the man down.
3. They got scoring from the fourth line. With the second line a little off tonight, it was important for the the bottom two lines to step up. They certainly did.
1. The first five minutes of the second period was not good...at all. BC seemed out of it for a period of time and Merrimack took advantage with three goals. Coasting even if it's just for a few minutes will kill you in this league. But, the team responded well after MC took the lead.
Player of the game- Steven Whitney
Injury Report- Destry Straight was out tonight due to a high ankel sprain. He tried to practice this week but could not...he is questionable for next weekends game vs Dartmouth.
Next Up- Next Saturday vs Dartmouth.
GO EAGLES !