|Photo from BC Athletics|
Yesterday, we discussed the importance of special teams and how BC's penalty killing unit had to step it up a few notches after rough games vs Lowell and RIT. Not only was the PK improved from the previous games, it was one of the central reasons why the Eagles were able to record their second consecutive victory. Overall, I was quiet pleased at the way BC played. We know this team can't survive with scoring from the senior class and so far, those guys have proven they can deliver goals at necessary junctures. Unheralded Cam Spiro recorded his first two goals in over a year and a half while Quinn Smith hooked up with linemates Danny Linell and Destry Straight for his first tally of the season.
The only negative for BC was their first period. They didn't create much offense, they gave up multiple grade A chances, and could not keep CC off the power play. Two of the penalties were the results of a poor job keeping the puck down low for a long period of time and forcing CC into mistakes in their own end. In both the RIT game and the second and third periods last night, BC proved that they're most effective offensively when they penetrate with an aggressive forecheck. I didn't think they did a tremendous job of keeping CC on their heels in the first stanza. Anytime you give an opponent three power plays in a 20 minute span and keep them off the board, it's a huge positive. BC did a better job of keeping the puck to outside and not allowing the Tiger's many scoring chances between the dots but when CC did get those occasional tight area chances, Thatcher Demko was there to make the stops. Although he misplayed the puck on CC's goal (perhaps his biggest weakness is puck handling), he played phenomenal all night long. When he is playing at that level, I believe he's the best goalie in college hockey.
For the second straight outing, BC's best period was the middle stanza. They dictated the play in all three ends and were rewarded with four goals, one of which was on the power play. Perhaps the most recognizable goal of the evening was Noah Hanifin's first collegiate tally in front of 20 NHL scouts, four of which were from Winnipeg. It is quite clear to me after watching three games that he is the best skating defenseman on this team, perhaps in a tie with Matheson. The most nerve racking portion of the period was when Teddy Doherty went down with what appeared to be a hand or wrist injury. Thankfully, he stayed on the bench and played the remaining 30 minutes. BC was given a minute of 5 on 3 time midway through the period and even though they didn't capitalize on the two man advantage, Ryan Fitzgerald dangled his way around a couple defenders in Johnny G style towards the end of the second penalty, giving the Eagles their second PP goal in as many goals. It's fair to say that Fitz has been without a doubt BC's most prolific forward through three games, in fact he has a goal in all three games. For some reason, maybe it's the increased playing time, he looks so much more comfortable with the puck on his stick and is really starting to create some big time plays at critical points. If CC gets out of that 5 on 3 only down a goal, they've got a ton of momentum, thanks to #19, that didn't happen.
Third period was a tad sloppy and included a couple of bad turnovers but all in all, not a bad effort from the maroon and gold. The three biggest things they need to improve for tonight’s game vs UMass, a team that picked up a big win @ NU last night, is staying out of the box (UMA has a potent power play), avoiding turnovers, as they were lucky not to fall victim to a couple of really bad defensive lapses, and lastly, I'd like to see them move the puck better on the power play. Sure, they had a goal last night but that was a result of some great individual play. There was too much passing at the blue line and not enough of getting the puck deep and the zone and creating good chances from the "inside out".
Anyways, solid win but two huge league points are on the line tonight. Preview later.
Why BC won-
1. Penalty kill was terrific. CC was 0 for 5 on the man up, much better execution from the Eagles.
2. Sanford, Tuch, and Hanifin seem to be improving each and every game. Noah looks like a pro out there sometimes while Tuch and Sanford are clearly two of the best forwards on this team at the moment. They combined for 4 points.
3. Spiro was sensational. I don't know how this kid didn't get any playing time in his first three seasons but he has argaubly been BC's best forward besides Fitzgerald.
4. Demko was fantastic.
1. Penalties. Five power plays is too many.
2. BC turned it over a lot more than they did vs RIT. Teams like CC don't always capitalize on chances, other opponents down the road certainly will.
Player of the game- Cam Spiro
Next up- UMass tonight