Sunday, January 5, 2014
Luck of the (Maroon and Gold) Irish
Ok, I was wrong. I kept talking about how I didn't really dislike Notre Dame and in my mind, it was just another stupid outdoor game. After sitting in the freezing cold for forty minutes (I flew home and watched the third on my couch) and listening to these insane Irish fans badmouthing the Eagles, I gotta tell you, I love beating those guys. They think they can come into our conference and run show. Thanks to another seven point night from the big three, the Boston College Eagles moved into first place in Hockey East and catapulted into the # 3 position in the pairwise standings. I'd go as far as to say it was the biggest victory so far this season not only because it was Notre Dame or the game was @ Fenway but these are the types of games the Eagles have struggled in over the course of the past few years. These huge, NCAA tournament type games in December/January. Whether it was the Maine weekend in 2012 or the the Minnesota game a season ago, BC just simply hasn't had their "A" game in the coldest months of the year. Tonight was certainly a huge turning point.
I think the biggest positive about tonight was that BC really didn't play that great yet they still came out on top. The early parts of the first period were really good as I thought all four lines did a good of sustaining pressure in the Notre Dame end. The Eagles were rewarded with an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from G and Brendan Silk (his first of the year). It was a bit concerning to see that BC really shut it down for a good twenty minutes after G's first tally. Notre Dame capitalized on a brutal defensive breakdown for their first goal. It looked like a forward forgot to pick up his man in the defensive zone. Just a bad mental error.
The Eagles still had all the momentum before Mike Sit was called for boarding and given a five minute major and game misconduct with just a second left in the first period. I don't mind the officials making a lot of calls as long as they go both ways. What I do mind is throwing someone out from something that shouldn't even have been called. It was an absolutely horrible call. I saw the replay after the period and exploded. It was just horrible. Anyways, Notre Dame capitalized on the power play just twenty three seconds into the second stanza. Sure, giving up power play goals is tough but you're expected to score on a five minute major. I'm sure the staff was extremely excited about the way the guys rebounded and killed off the remaining four and a half minutes because ND could have easily added two or three more goals. It was, in my mind, the biggest moment of the game for BC.
One thing BC has done really well this year but failed to do tonight was continue to build a lead. The biggest lead difference in hockey is between two and three goals. You can really crush a teams confidence if you can get up by three goals. I think the time between Notre Dame's first goal and Billy Arnold's goal (BC's third) was some of the worst hockey we have seen since the Maine game.
I thought the third period was one of the more entertaining periods of hockey I have seen all year. Billy Arnold's goal was just the result of some great individual effort from Kevin Hayes. He was clearly held on the boards but was able to skate through the defender and make a perfect pass to a crashing Arnold to give BC the 3-2 lead. I thought Kevin was a little bit off in the first two periods but he made up for it with a phenomenal third period. The staff obviously has a large amount of trust in him as they had him on the ice with under a minute to play. The third Notre Dame was just a really good shot by defenseman Bryan Rust. Maybe Billett would like to have it back but not much a goaltender can do when his defensemen cannot clear the puck out for him. There were too many times where this was the case tonight and BC was a tad lucky the Irish didn't score on more of those turnovers. The go ahead goal ? Well yea, all I need to tell you is that Hayes made a great lead pass to Johnny G who had a breakaway. You've seen how that movie goes. All the goal scoring was great and all but I think the best part about the third period was the way BC played in the final five minutes of the hockey game. I think holding a one goal lead late in big games is the hardest thing to do in this sport and the Eagles not only killed of a Pat Brown penalty, but they refused to give the Irish anything in the final minutes of the contest. Seeing ND almost score with a second left gave us some nightmares of the November 2011 matchup in South Bend but this time the good guys came out on top.
Overall, really pleased with this win. You gotta battle hard in these type of rivalry games. Notre Dame played really hard. They came to play and for a lot of that game, they outplayed us but in big games, you need your best players to show up. Tonight G, Arnold, Hayes, and Matheson were a combined +9. Without a doubt, the Eagles played like a bunch of champions tonight. Great win.
Why BC Won-
1. G, Arnold, Hayes lit up the Irish like a Jack-O'-lantern. Just ridiculous how good these guys are. Great question came up on Twitter tonight, who is better, these three or Atkinson-Gibbons-Whitney ?
2. The penalty kill. I thought BC's PK was tremendous. Sure they gave up a goal but not only did they kill a late penalty, they completely shut down ND's 6 on 5 late in the game.
1. The power play was the worst it has been all year. I hope they dedicate three days of practice this week to just the power play. Just that. No 5 on 5 stuff, no penalty kill, no late game situations, just three days of power play practice.
2. The idea of Frozen Fenway. I'll probably write more on this later in the week but this idea needs to go. The crowd stunk, it was freezing, and the game had ZERO flow to it. Awful idea. Awful.
Player of the game- Billy Arnold.
Next up- home vs Providence on Friday night. Huge game.
Important Note- Harvard embarrassed BU tonight 7-4. Ha. Wow.