Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Quinn Smith Leads Eagles to Beanpot Finals

Quinn Smith Celebrates his second goal. Photo by John Quackenbos.
Over the course of the past 61 years, the Beanpot has never failed to amaze and it certainly has always been a spotlight for even the small role players to shine. Last night, Quinn Smith, a guy that had just one goal in his whole career before three weeks ago, scored two crucial late period goals to lift the Boston College Eagles into the Beanpot finals where they will face the Northeastern Huskies next Monday night. I didn't think BC played well tonight. I thought they played absolutely outstanding from puck drop up to the final horn. All four lines were buzzing including the newly formed "big" line of Kevin Hayes, Billy Arnold, and Steven Whitney. BC looked good right from the start when Johnny G dished one out to Pat Mullane in the slot but Mullane barely missed it and therefore missed a wide open net. Even though they didn't score, it was the first of many shifts in which BC was buzzing all around the Harvard net. They got pucks deep, cycled well, and created lots of great chances on Harvard goalie Raphael Girard. I thought the third line of Pat Brown, Books Dyroff, and Quinn Smith played their second consecutive outstanding game. These guys are starting to figure out what their roles are. Get pucks deep, keep it in the zone, set a physical presence, and most of all, get pucks to the net. Last night they did that and as a result, they had a pair of goals. If you've watched him at all this year, you'd see that Pat Brown is one tough guy. I mean, he'll do anything to block a shot...even if it means getting a puck right to the ankle (happened in the first period last night). Just goes show how much he is committed to helping out this team in any way he can. I also thought Brooks Dyroff did a nice job of playing physical out there. BC doesn't have a ton of real physical guys but Dyroff is certainly one of them. You could see that a couple of his hits early on got the bench pumped up. Little things like blocking shots and making big hits can go a long way towards a victory.

As for the first two lines, I thought the Johnny G line was good but I thought the Hayes line was sensational. Hayes is a magician with the puck, Arnold will do just about anything on the ice for you, and Steven Whitney can finish better than anyone in the country. Makes for a pretty deadly combination. After Harvard's first goal midway through the third, BC continued to dominate the play but they just couldn't find the back of the net. Whitney changed that when he picked up the puck in the neutral zone and fired one so hard past Girard that I think he's still trying to figure out how it went in. While they didn't have a point, I thought Johnny G and Pat Mullane played well at times tonight. There were a couple instances where BC got caught up in their offensive end and Mullane saved a couple of Harvard odd man rushes thanks to his back checking. Back checking is just pure effort. It shows who's going to go that extra step to try and win a Beanpot championship. Pat Mullane certainly showed what he feels about trying to win this tournament with his defensive zone efforts last night.

People will try and taunt BC's young defense all they want but the bottom line is that they played rock solid last night. I said earlier this year that I think Mike Matheson could be the best defenseman in Hockey East by the time this season is all said and done. I think he is starting to make me look half intelligent with his play in both ends right now. Everybody knows about his offensive skill (I mean just look at the third BC goal) but his play in his own zone has dramatically improved from day one to now. I always say that opponents have a tough time scoring when he's on the ice because of his speed, skill, and toughness. As of today, he has the highest plus minus of any defenseman in the league. I don't think one defenseman played poorly last night. It took a few minutes for Jeke and Doherty to get the Beanpot jitters out of their system but once they did, they played some good hockey.

All in all, things are looking really good right now. I know, it's a couple of wins vs some average hockey teams but BC is clicking on all cylinders at the moment. Their power play looks as lethal as it has all year, the offense looks like it's back it's pre-December form, and the defense is playing as well as it has all year. Now, it's time get a key Hockey East win vs Lowell on Friday night before focusing on winning another Beanpot championship.

Why BC Won-

1. Total domination. First game this team has totally dominated in quite some time. A lot of guys played really, really well last night for BC.

2. Parker Milner made some huge saves early on. Harvard had a chance to tie it up on a breakaway early in the second but Milner was their like he was all night long.

3. Big games from unheralded players. Congrats to Quinn Smith on his special night. Certainly something he will never forget.

Player of the game- Quinn Smith

Next up- Lowell on Friday @ home.

Note- Congrats to Northeastern on smoking those guys from down the street. First time since 1964 a BU senior class will go without a Beanpot. How awesome.


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