Sunday, December 8, 2013

Eagles Get Huge Sweep

Hayes celebrates his goal. Photo from Dave Arnold.
You ever hear the saying how you always you want your defense to "bend but not break" if you've got a good offense in football ? Well, this weekend there was a heck of a lot of bending from the Eagles, especially over the course of the final forty minutes tonight @ the Whittemore Center but they stood tall and defeated the UNH Wildcats by a 2-1 margin, moving into a tie for first place with the Providence Friars in the process. Sure, there we a lot of rough patches throughout the weekend. I mean, we got outshot by a 29-19 margin tonight but it seemed like UNH had the puck for twice as long as BC did. The bottom line is that no matter what the shots are or how long one team has the puck for, if you get good goaltending and block shots in key situations, you can win any game in this league. With the larger ice surface, you would think that UNH would have had a lot more shooting lanes but I thought BC did a great job, especially on the penalty kill, of getting sticks and bodies in front of white jerseys and forcing the pucks to the boards. When Wildcat shots did get through to the net, Thatcher Demko was there to make the stop as he played arguably his best game of the year tonight, making 28 saves.

When I look at the game, I'm not really sure if I loved the way BC played as they got severely outplayed for a couple of long stretches but as the game went on, they tightened  up their defense in the neutral zone and limited UNH's odd man rushes. With 1:18 left to go in the game, UNH pulled goalie Casey DeSmith but were pretty much unable to garner any real good shots thanks to some great defensive play from Billy Arnold and Austin Cangelosi. After Cango dumped the puck in (and barely missing the empty net) Arnold went in and kept the puck down there for a good fifteen seconds, giving UNH little time to push it up the ice and create a chance. The amount they have improved on their late game situations from the UMass series has been a pretty good turnaround. It's certainly a positive sign going forward.

On the offensive side of things, BC really didn't generate much. Both goals were results of brutal UNH turnovers and some slick skill from BC's top guns. I couldn't believe how UNH was able to completely take Johnny G out of the game. He was a non factor all night, even with the space he was given on the big sheet. Give them credit for that. I thought Billy Arnold played arguably his best game of the season tonight on both ends, especially in the defensive end. Kevin Hayes' goal was very similar to the one he had last night. He led a 2 on 1 rush over the blue line and snipped one low blocker side to give BC the lead with two minutes left in the second period.

Defensively, I think the staff has got to be pretty pleased with what they saw. Other than the goal, which was a total breakdown from all five guys, I thought BC did a good job of limiting UNH to a lot of perimeter shots. The best part of BC's defensive game was undoubtedly their penalty kill as UNH didn't score on four power play chances. BC, of course, had zero power plays once again. When you're killing penalties and spending a lot of time in your own end, you need your goalie to be your best player. There is no question that the best player on the ice tonight was #30 in maroon.

Overall, this was a pretty gigantic win. BC entered the weekend 11th in the pairwise standings but as of now, they sit in the 6th position. As I mentioned earlier, they now stand atop Hockey East with Providence, a team they will meet in early January @ Kelly Rink. Things still have to improve substantially but two wins over a quality hockey team will certainly make Christmas a little merrier in BC Hockey world.


1. Thatcher Demko. He was sensational all night long. The only reason UNH was able to get one by him was because of a horrific defensive collapse.

2. Just enough forwards played well enough. Not everyone was hitting on all cylinders but Arnold, Cangelosi, Fitzgerald, and Hayes all played real well.

3. Macleod and Linell were both +2. All in all, a pretty good weekend for those two.


1. BC has got to find a way to generate more scoring chances. Maybe getting a few power plays here and there would help.

2. The UNH goal was a really bad sequence. I haven't seen the tape yet but I think BC got caught with pretty much every guy on one side of the ice, leaving a white jersey wide open in front of Demko. Highlights will be up later.

Player of the game- Thatcher Demko

Next Up- Bowling Green on December 27th in the Three Rivers Classic (Pittsburgh)

Go Eagles !

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