Sunday, February 16, 2014

Trophy #3

BC celebrates their title after the game. Photo from Dave Arnold.
Winning games on the road in Hockey East is no small task especially when you're playing a team that is right on the NCAA tournament bubble, gunning for home ice, and doing everything they can to not let another team celebrate a championship on their home ice. Mix in the facts that BC had played a huge game just five days earlier and had to suffer through the loss of perhaps their most beloved fan, and it was going to be one heck of a challenge. Well, mission accomplished. The #1 Boston College Eagles clinched their third Hockey East regular season title in the past four years with a 5-3 victory over the #14 Vermont Catamounts, extending their unbeaten streak to 17 games. With a goal and an assist, Johnny G extended his point streak to a stunning 26 straight games. The pair of points bumped G's point total to a nation leading 53 points. Kevin Hayes was no slouch himself, potting BC's fourth goal, giving him 50 points on the season.

For the second consecutive night, I thought Vermont was the better team in the first period. They came out hitting every maroon shirt they could find, resulting in a lot of broken up plays for the Eagles. They couldn't get much going for a large majority of the period mainly because UVM was playing physical, mistake-free hockey. The Eagles were rewarded with a power play midway through the opening stanza but did everything but capitalize thanks to some great saves by UVM freshman goalie Michael Santaguida. However, like it has all season, the penalty kill came up big late in the period when Chris Calnan scored the Eagles' 6th shorthanded tally of the season, pouncing on a loose puck at the BC defensive blue line and going end to end before snipping one top shelf. After Billy Arnold's penalty (the one Cal scored on) expired, Arnold went straight to the net and fired home a Isaac Macleod shot that went wide (on purpose) into the back of the net. Really just an intelligent play by perhaps the best two way forward in all of college hockey.

However, once again, BC wasn't able to put UVM away as the Catamounts scored just two minutes into the second. Somehow, BC allowed a UVM forward to dish a pass across the Eagles' defensive end and let a defenseman skate circles around Billett to score the Cats' first goal. It was an even strength goal but for some reason BC had three guys stuck around the net and no one up high covering the right point allowing their defenseman to walk right in. Of course, the Eagles responded just minutes later on the power play when Johnny G redirected an Adam Gilmour shot with his shin past Santaguida for his 27th goal of the year. The Eagles appeared to put the nail in the coffin with just three minutes left in the period when Kevin Hayes made a spectacular move, resulting in his 22nd goal of the year. I thought UVM actually did a pretty good job on BC's top line this weekend but I'm not sure why the had their second line out there vs our top line. What the big three do is they ware you down. One little error, and they're gone the other way and more often then not, it's a goal.

Five minutes into the third, Ian McCoshen (who played a lot of minutes and played very well) took a questionable cross checking penalty and BC finally gave up a power play goal, the first one an opponent has had vs the Eagles since Maine did on January 18th. Unfortunately, the reason McCoshen, Santini, and Macleod played so many minutes was because Mike Matheson left early in the second period with an injury. He went to the locker room and did not return. His status for next week is not known at this time. I thought BC's defense did an admirable job filling in for him as it seemed McCoshen was out there for almost the whole third period. While Matheson would be a huge loss, the only thing that matters is that he is healthy for the NCAA tournament, so there really is no need to rush him back right now. This team is capable of winning any game with their depth at all three positions. After UVM made it a two goal lead with a lot of hockey left to play, Scotty Savage put the cherry on top of the sundae with a bomb from the blue line, resulting in his fourth goal of the season. Give credit to Scott, he kind of needed to show the staff that he deserved to be an every game type of guy and in my opinion, he played well last night. He is always going to be a major threat in the offensive zone, especially with his shot but he has got to find a way to improve in his own end. Like everyone else, I was a bit shocked that the staff decided to start Brian Billett in net. I think it's good to keep him fresh for the stretch run just in case anything happens but it's safe to say that the starting job belongs to Thatcher Demko.

All in all, this was one heck of a weekend. Give Vermont a lot of credit, they played extremely hard for all 120 minutes and even dominated the play for long stretches but when you're playing the Eagles, you've got to play mistake free for the whole game and they just didn't have the talent or the stamina to do that. Of course, we want to win a trophy that's a lot more important than the Joe Bertagna trophy (as Coach York likes to call it) but as of now, we'll take any hardware we can find.

Why BC won-

1. The big three were really good. Like always.

2. With Matheson gone, guys really stepped up on the blue line. I thought Ian McCoshen played an exceptional game, especially when considering the amount of minutes he played.

3. Secondary scoring. Savage had a goal, Calnan had a goal, and Straight had an assist. That's huge for this club.


1. I didn't think BC covered great in their own end at times. On UVM's third goal, one of our defenseman just bolted out to the blue line and their was a two on one in front of Billett. If he's going to bolt out, someone has to jump down and help cover. No one did.

2. Let's hope Matheson is OK. I don't think it's too serious.

Player of the game- G

Next up- Two game set with Lowell next weekend. Home on Friday, @ Tsongas on Saturday

Go Eagles !!

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