Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Halfway There


Fitz celebrates his goal. Photo from Dave Arnold.
Well, it certainly wasn't pretty but the #2 Boston College Eagles held off archrival Boston University 3-1 Monday night in the first round of the 62nd Beanpot Tournament. The Eagles will face Northeastern in the finals for the second consecutive year next week. First of all, I thought Boston University played a tremendous hockey game and had the puck bounced their way a few times in the third period or Thatcher Demko didn't play out of his mind once again, they could have easily won that game. We can talk about all the if's we want but the bottom line is good teams find a way to win even way they don't bring their A game. In fact, that was probably BC's C/C+ game. The Terriers came to play and did something they haven't done much at all this season, garnering 28 shots on goal.

When I look at the first period, obviously it was great to score a power play goal just four minutes into the game on what was an absolute snipe by Ryan Fitzgerald who played his best game in sometime last night. The Eagles continued to keep the pressure on BU's young defense for the majority of the period and could have taken a two goal lead if it wasn't for an outstanding blocker save on an Adam Gilmour one timer by Matt O'Connor. Once BU got settled in and O'Connor made some big stops, the Terriers really took it to BC as it was anything but a miracle that BC got out of the period with a lead.

Much like the first,  BC came out swinging in the second stanza as Kevin Hayes potted home a highlight reel pass from roommate Bill Arnold to give BC a comfortable 2-0 edge. After this goal however, it was all Terriers, all the time. BU defenseman Doyle Somerby violently shoved Kevin into the boards from behind and was rightfully assessed a five minute major but BC did nothing with the man advantage. Not only did we get nothing on the scoreboard, the shorthanded Terriers had a pair of two on ones that would have resulted in goals if it wasn't for some excellent hustle by Teddy Doherty and a big save from Thatcher Demko. Obviously that kill gave BU a enormous amount of momentum and shortly after the major expired, BU was rewarded a power play with just two and half minutes left in the period. The strength of this BC team has been their ability to protect a lead in the third period so getting that kill late in the second and going into the locker room up a pair of goals was huge.

In the early portions of the third period, BU built on the momentum they gained on their power play late in the second but I thought BC did a good job of staying calm and playing smart hockey. The last time we played these guys, we gave them three power plays in the third period and they nearly came back. I've always thought that having big body guys like Adam Gilmour or Chris Calnan not only helps in the physical part of the game but those guys are very good at keeping the puck away and cycling it behind the opponents goal line, killing chunks of time that would otherwise be spent in the BC end. Every line had long periods of time in which they kept working it down low, prevented BU from gaining any odd man rushes created from the defensive zone, and had some high quality scoring chances that could have put the game away. Obviously things got nerve racking when BU made it a one goal game but BC really didn't have to change much. The majority of BU's scoring chances were coming from the perimeter of the ice and when you've got a goalie like Demko, those types of chances are not going to find nylon very often.

When we look at this game, obviously there are a lot of things that need to improve. Number one, that five minute power play in the second period was not very good. That's the exact same thing that happened at Penn State. We're up a goal or two midway through the hockey game and we've got a prolonged man advantage. Those are the times to put teams away. There is no reason that game should have even been close in the third period last night. I'm not really worried about the five on five offense even though BC has only scored two five on five goals in their past two games (not counting G's empty netter). The fact that this team is finding way to win low-scoring games, the type of game that has been a problem in the past, is encouraging.

Lastly, I read an article today on College Hockey News today about how the Beanpot has lost it's luster and it's really not an important hockey tournament to people outside of the four schools. It's amazing how people suddenly turn so negative when one team, the most hated team in the sport, starts dominating a two day tournament. Seeing how excited Northeastern people are about the opportunity to win a Beanpot next week is what makes this tournament so great. It's my favorite tournament in the whole world and I treasure every second I get to watch the Eagles play in it because it means so much to me and so many other people. It's the best event in the world and I know this team is thrilled about a chance to keep the trophy in Chestnut Hill next Monday.

Why BC Won-

1. Thatcher Demko was sensational once again. Copied and pasted.

2. The penalty kill was tremendous. BU didn't get much in the "grade A" scoring range and when they did, either a stick was there to deflect it or Demko made the stop.

3. Johnny G is really good. Kevin Hayes is really good. Billy Arnold was the best of all three last night.

Negatives- 

1. The five minute power play.

2. Being outplayed for large portions of that game. If we get outplayed like that for a large amount of time vs a very good Northeastern team, the trophy is not going to stay in Kelly Rink.

Player(s) of the game- Demko and Billy Arnold....13 was pretty good as well.

Next Up- Merrimack on Friday night @ home.

GO EAGLES !






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