Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Eagles Continue To Roll @ Merrimack

Demko makes one of his 19 saves. Photo from Mike McMahon. 
It isn't often I''l say a win over the worst team in Hockey East is one that could really go a long way in deciding what happens later on in the year but tonight, I learned a lot about this team. I was questioning whether or not the guys could play in a gritty, not a lot of room, physical, low scoring, boring hockey game. I mean, we're averaging 4.65 goals per game this season. That's absurd. No other team in the nation has averaged even four goals a game. So, at BC, guys are not  used to games where there are not a lot of goals, not a lot of space, and the game is played at an extremely slow pace. I just didn't think the guys would be able to adjust. 

They did. In a big way. The #2 Boston College Eagles ran their unbeaten streak to ten games as they defeated the Merrimack College Warriors by a 3-1 score in front of a sellout crowd @ Lawler Arena. BC had been 2-4-1 in their past seven games @ the vaunted arena. First of all, let's get this out of the way. Thatcher Demko deserves to be the goalie night in and night out. He's got one loss this year in a game where he hadn't seen action in over a month. Sure, he's a freshman but he's won at some of the toughest places to play in college hockey such as the Jack Parker Rink, Lawler Arena, a tie @ Marriuci Arena, and the Whittemore Center. He played outstanding tonight but I think the biggest reason he only gave up one goal was because of the way the team in front of him played. BC's team defense was tremendous tonight. Besides a couple of poor turnovers in the second period, the Eagles just found a way to play a style of hockey they just are not used to doing. I mean, when was the last time BC ran a 1-2-2 trap ? It worked, really well. 

I thought the first period was a very good one for BC. They forced turnovers, penalties, and capitalized when they really needed to. The only mistake made was they allowed for Merrimack to have a little too much comfort around Demko for a small portion of the period and the Warriors capitalized. But even though Merrimack tied it up really quickly, BC kept pouncing. The first line wasn't as good as it was on Saturday but they forced Merrimack into a lot of bad penalties in the first, one of which was taken advantage of when Teddy Doherty scored with under a minute to play in the period. It was great to see the second unit get on the board. 

Of the three stanzas, the second was probably BC's weakest. Merrimack started to establish the way they wanted to play and were able to rattle off 14 shots, all of which were denied by Demko. The only real mistake was when a Warrior forward split the middle between Savage and Matheson and went in on a breakaway, Demko proceeded to make the biggest stop of the game after that. The Eagles took a crucial two goal lead when Patrick Brown put a rocket past Rassmus Tirronen. I would make the argument that he is the most under valued player in Hockey East because of what he brings to the table in both ends. He was tremendous tonight. 

Like they've done so well all year, BC preserved their third period lead without any problems as like I said earlier, Merrimack was held to only four shots on goal in the final twenty minutes. It was clear that the Warriors stepped up their assault in the offensive end so seeing BC hold them to just twenty shots was very gratifying. The most overused term in all of sports may be the "team win" quote but tonight was a full 60 minute by each and every guy. In this league, you're going to have to adjust on the fly. Sometimes, you just can't play the way you want to play for a full game. Tonight, BC wasn't able to do that but they did come away with the most important thing, a win. 

I'm not going to say that the race for the regular season title is over but I'm thinking that the only team that could possibly overtake BC is Lowell and the teams don't meet until the second to last week of the season. I would love to know when the last time any team had a eight point or more lead in this league because I can't remember there ever being so much separation between one team and the rest. Anyways, there is no doubt that the guys are playing better than anyone in the country right night. It's great to see. 

Why BC Won- 

1. Total team effort on the defensive end. Merrimack couldn't get anything all night and when they got maybe a little something, Demko was there. that 1-2-2 trap was different but it certainly worked on that small surface. 

2. This team is built to protect leads. The deeper you are, the better you are at protecting a lead in the third period. This team is very deep compared to last years squad and it shows every single night. 

3. They stayed out of the box. When you don't take dumb penalties, good things happen. 

Player of the game- Thatcher Demko 

Next Up- @ Penn State on Saturday. Wee.

Go Eagles !!

1 comment:

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