|Photo from BC Athletics.|
The first period was a pretty boring twenty minutes of hockey. The teams combined for just 9 shots on goal but amazingly, BC held UMass to three shots on three power plays. The advantage of packing the box and giving the point a little more room is that opponents will have a hard time getting shots through to the net. Although the Minutemen added a power play goal late in the game with BC up 3-0, I thought the PK made some strides in the right direction this weekend. The main reason BC only gave up three goals in two games? Thatcher Demko was the best player on the ice, outside of maybe Hanifin, on both nights. When Thatcher plays like he has been playing, BC has a great chance to win a game on any given night, no matter how good the opposition is.
Early in the second period, the Eagles were forced to kill off a couple more penalties but were also given a few chances on the power play. Right now, BC's best unit is Gilmour's line along with Hanifin and Matheson as they seem to be moving the puck quiet well and generating some quality chances on goal. I'm a bit worried about the second unit, especially the back end of it. Ian McCoshen is one of the premier defenders in the country but he looks uncomfortable with the puck sometimes. His biggest asset on the PP is his blistering slap shot, in fact he scored BC's first power play of the season last week @ RIT on a one timer from the point. He should and hopefully will remain on the power play but his breakouts and entries need to get smoother over time. Halfway through the second stanza, UMass came down on a 4-2 but thanks to another solid save from Demko and a good clearing pass from Mike Matheson, Alex Tuch sent an absolute rocket over the shoulder of UMass goalie Henry Dill, giving the maroon and gold the first lead of the night. As I said after the exhibition game, Tuch may have the best shot of any BC forward in the past 10 years, including Steven Whitney. Towards the end of the period, the power play broke through for the third time this season when Adam Gilmour fired home a one timer while falling down, giving the Eagles a comfortable two goal lead heading into the third.
Let me preface what I am about to say because sometimes I don't want to create another firestorm on Twitter. I don't know a single UMass hockey player, coach, or fan but I'm sure they're all tremendous people who care deeply about their university. I certainly respect their program and the fact that they always play the Eagles tough year in and year out. However, what took place in the third period last night was a disgrace to college hockey. Their players were not out there to play hockey, they were out there to hurt our guys. I need to see a reply of the hit before I dive into a rant about it but it appeared that one of their forwards took a shot to the head of Matty Gaudreau right in front of the BC bench. Again, I will not comment on the hit until I see the tape but it didn't appear to be anything that belongs in the game of hockey. Just a minute after that, another UMass player was sent to the box for high sticking and the Eagles were able to put the nail in the coffin thanks to another Gilmour power play goal, this coming BC's first 5 on 3 mark of the season.
All in all, it's nice to pickup two wins before a tough weekend series @ Denver but it wasn't all good news, unfortunately. Forward Chris Calnan was sidelined with a lower body injury but he was walking around the concourse yesterday without a boot or crutches, he did have a bit of a limp though. According to those who attend the press conference last night, Steve Santini suffered a wrist injury and was scheduled for x-rays on Monday. I did not see him leave the bench or suffer any tangible pain on the ice and he was out there for Gilmour's goal halfway through the third period so maybe it isn't as bad as we think.
I'm excited about where this team is at but Denver on the road is certainly going to be the toughest test of the season. Good start but now it gets really tough.
Why BC Won-
1. Demko was as good as he can be. Like I said, when he plays like that, he is the best goaltender in the country and it isn't even close.
2. Gilmour and Tuch were firing on all cylinders. They didn't seem to miss their left winger one bit.
3. BC put the nail in UMass' coffin when they had the opportunity to. If the Eagles don't score on that 2 minute 5 on 3, the Minutemen could have used that momentum to make it a one goal game and who knows what would have happened after that.
1. Injuries. Calnan and Santini would be huge losses but I don't think either is severe. I'll have more later.
Player of the game- Thatcher Demko
Next up- @ Denver next weekend.