Saturday, November 1, 2014

Big W

Ryan Fitz had two goals vs DU
Just when it seemed he couldn't break anymore records (and even though he probably could care less) Coach York broke another mark Friday evening @ Magness Arena, capturing his 500th victory as head coach for the Eagles as his team defeated Denver 2-1 in front of 4,559 fans. There really isn't any other way to say it other than it's an absolutely huge win for this club, by far and away their biggest victory of this young season. All I talked about from June to September was how this team was going to win games by defense and goaltending, something that fans were going to have to get used to. Five games into the 2014-15 campaign, it's hard to imagine BC's D and goalie Thatcher Demko can be much better. Some of the saves #30 made down the stretch tonight are the type of stops elite goaltenders make. Big saves in clutch situations. The fact that BC held DU to just 26 shots and an 0 for 6 mark on the power play are significant indicators of the progress the maroon and gold are making in their own end. 

The first period was as defensive and boring as it gets but let me make it clear, that isn't a bad thing. We aren't going to beat the Denver's, BU's, and Minnesota's of the world with 6 or seven goals like we have in the past. It's going to be solid all around play from the goaltender out. That's exactly what took place tonight. I can't recall DU getting anything in the offensive end in the first twenty minutes but give them credit because they also held us off the board. The only way BC gives up more than three goals in a game this season is when they shoot themselves in the foot with either penalties (although the PK has significantly improved)  or bad turnovers. Although part #1 needs some work, the guys have made enormous improvements in the turnover department. 

All seemed good and well until DU struck 28 seconds into the middle stanza, catching BC half asleep in their own end. Again, I have to watch the whole tape but here is a nice GIF from the boys at BC Interruption. It appears that their forward won a little battle behind BC's net but the Eagles are still in somewhat OK position until they forget to pick up one of DU's top D, Nolan Zajac who comes flying in from the point untouched and gives the Pios a 1-0 lead. Sanford looks like he's got his stick in between the passer and the receiver but it slides through him and the rest is history. BC's response to the goal was as well as they've responded to adversity all season as killed off a Cangelosi penalty and capitalized on a DU hooking call to tie the game up. Once again, Ryan Fitzgerald has proved to be the new "go to" guy as many predicted he would before the season started. Here is the replay. It's simple, Straight and Cango combined to win a puck battle and Cango turns it into a 2 on 1 down low with Fitzgerald. BC's power play is at it's best when they're penetrating the zone and creating odd number situations down low rather than up high. They try to do that by  constantly swinging the puck from left to right but in reality, the best way to create those type of situations is winning a battle on the boards and catching the defense off guard. Perhaps the biggest moment of the game besides the game winning goal was Denver's inability to capitalize on a 1:20 of 5 on 3. Don't get me wrong, they had their chances but Demko continues to manifest why he is the top goalie in college hockey. Credit Coach Ayers and his PK unit as they have killed off 10 of their past 11 penalties. 

It was apparent in the third that BC really built up a lot of momentum from that kill late in the second. They came out as the faster, more aggressive, team in the final period but once again, they killed that momentum with bad penalty midway through the period and Denver nearly cashed in. BC's penalty killing philosophy is a lot different than it was during the Cavanaugh era (he ran the PK)  but it continues to pump out positive results, which is all that matters. Immediately after Sanford's holding the stick call expired, he bolted out of the box and caught a long pass from Quinn Smith before having it fall off his stick and into the corner. However, he stayed with the puck, won a battle for it in the corner, and made a sick pass out front to guess who, Fitzgerald, who gave the Eagles their first lead of the night. Here is the replay

The lead was great but the maroon and gold still had to hunker down and find a way to hold DU off the board for the final 5 minutes. Thanks to more spectacular saves from Demko and a little bit of puck luck, they were able to do just that and land their first "landmark" victory of the season. 

Winning on the road in college hockey isn't easy, especially when you're playing 2,000 miles away vs a team who's season you ended five months earlier but the staff has to be extremely proud of the way their team play tonight. For the past 10-15 years, BC has won the majority of "big" games by overpowering their opponents with speed, skill, and depth up front, not necessarily their defensive prowess. Is this team different? Very. Does it matter as long as the results are the same? Not one bit. 

Why BC Won- 

1. Demko continues to be the top goaltender in the country. Heck, he might be the best player in the country right now. Oh, I'm forgetting someone. We will see him on Friday.

2. Coach Ayers' PK gave DU nothing on the power play. The Pios could have blown that game wide open with a couple of 5 on 3 goals late in the second but the Eagles held up. 

3. Fitzgerald's development has exceeded anyones expectations. I knew he would improve with more playing time but to be honest, I didn't see 5 goals through 5 games. 


1. Although they had a goal, I'm still not crazy about the power play. They aren't creating enough "grade A" chances, it's a whole lot of cycling down low but not getting anything in between the circles.  

2. The penalties are ridiculous at times. 

Player of the game- Thatcher Demko 

Next up- vs DU tomorrow. 9 PM EST

Congrats Coach ! Go Eagles


  1. Admitted bias--Denver alum and Pioneer hockey fan.
    Thought the first two periods were pretty even and DU has some good chances, but Demko was a rock. With far less game experience Cowley was matching Demko save for save for most of the game. No question BC began taking control in the 3rd period--York's ability to make adjustments.and the team to execute them was plainly evident.

    Denver's colors are CRIMSON and gold
    5 on 3 was for 38 seconds not 1:20
    Cowley gave up 5 goals last Saturday--not 6. (He wasn't great, but the skaters didn't give him much support.)

    2004 National Champion being inducted into Hall of Fame tonight. Hoping they inspire a DU win !

    Would be remiss if I didn't say, Congratulations Coach York. Just wish #500 hadn't been against my Pioneers.

  2. First of all, thank you for reading. Appreciate it. Cowley is tremendous. Love the way DU kills. tonight will be good