Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sneaky Huge Win

Photo from The Heights
Thanks to an overtime tally from sophomore Ryan Fitzgerald, the Boston College Eagles solidified their NCAA tournament position with a huge 3-2 win over Harvard in the 3rd place game of the Beanpot. The amount of times that I have been asked why I was jacked up about a consolation victory today is mind-blowing but if you follow closely, you'd know that this win pushes BC to the brink of clinching a 6th straight tournament berth. Basically, the Eagles currently sit at 9th in the pairwise but a loss would have dropped them down to 16th, meaning they would probably have to sweep a red hot Notre Dame squad this weekend on the road. However, thanks the a terrific third period and some heroics from Fitzy, the maroon and gold are one win in South Bend and a home ice series win in the Hockey East playoffs away from clinching an NCAA tournament berth.

In front of perhaps 400 people, the game got underway and the first period was mostly controlled by Harvard but it was the Eagles who recorded a power play goal in their 5th straight game to take the 1-0 lead after a period. Much has been made about BC's lack of a "go to" guy this year but I think Alex Tuch is slowly turning into one of the top forwards in the league, in my opinion he is the third best behind Eichel and Roy. Not only is he super skilled but he does all the little things right such as knowing where to be when they're cycling and finding open lanes on the power play. BC has been looking for that line of him, Gilmour, and Sanford to pick it up a little bit and without a doubt, they were better than Harvard's top unit of Vesey, Criscuolo, and Kerfoot, one of the more vaunted lines in the country. However, outside of the power play goal, BC's first period was shaky and we were probably lucky to get out of it with a lead because a lot of our shots were from the perimeter while a lot of their shots were taken in good scoring areas.

The second stanza could very well have been worst of the season, mainly because the Eagles got back to taking stupid penalties. Interestingly enough, we had a chance to make it a 2 goal game early on when we were rewarded with a 5 on 3 for over a minute but we couldn't do anything. The long kill gave a Harvard a big boost and they finally tied the game up when Alexander Kerfoot made a couple nice moves at the blue line and fired a wrister past a screened Demko. Two things stood out about that goal. Number one, BC got caught on a long change and couldn't take the fourth line off so Donato made the smart move and threw on his top guys and as well as our fourth line played, they're no match for their big three. BC had a couple of chances to just chip the puck up the boards and get a change but credit Harvard for keeping it in and getting guys to the net. Less than two minutes after Kerfoot's tally, Buffalo draft pick Sean Malone gave the Crimson their first lead of the night on the power play. No one can say that BC's penalty kill was bad because they were 6 of 7 on the night and that included a long 5 on 3 but I think they may have been caught just a tad out of position on that goal. Coach York made a great point after the game when he said that it is tough when your top guys have to be your penalty killers because that wears them down offensively and that was clearly evident by BC's two shots in the second period. In all honesty, Harvard should have had a three goal lead through two but a clearly banged up Demko (he was run over twice, neither called) once again saved the day. It's great having the best goaltender in the country but when he has to  face five power plays in one period, you know there are going to be some errors. It's not fair for him that his teammates are in the box so much and to be frank, I can't recall any of them being "bad" calls, they were just stupid penalties.

I'm obviously not in the locker room but if I had to guess Coach York went in there after 40 minutes and fired everybody up by telling them that they had to win this game or their tournament hopes were pretty much history because boy did they come out with some bounce in their step. They looked like a totally different hockey team in the third period. They were the faster, stronger, and more physical team all throughout the final twenty minutes but they couldn't answer the bell until Matthew Gaudreau fired home a rebound with just under 12 minutes to play. Everyone, including me, talks about BC's lack of depth but their fourth line consist of two guys that are both really good skaters and aren't without any skill. Teddy Doherty added an assist and played well but I still think they want him back at defense to recreate the pairings they had in January. BC was given a golden opportunity with 5 minutes to go when Harvard forward Seb Lloyd was whistled for charging but they couldn't do anything with it. Outside of our power play goal, I was very impressed with the Crimson's penalty kill which was fast, aggressive, and got great goaltending all night long.

About 1:16 into overtime, just 8 second after Harvard had iced the puck and called a timeout, the staff made an intelligent move by throwing the second line out there against Harvard's top guys, a matchup that, for whatever reason, really threw Vesey and company off all night. The maneuver proved fruitful when Fitz fired home his own rebound to give BC their biggest victory of the season. Like I said, it was a huge win but evident by Coach York's postgame comments, they clearly aren't where they want to be. He has been around long enough to know that goaltending and defense can only win you trophies if you get at least some 5 on 5 scoring. He also touched upon the penalty situation which he seems astounded by the fact that we're in late February and we're still taking a ton of penalties. All in all, great win but it needs to be a lot better.

Why BC won- 

1. Tuch has evolved into a real threat. Sanford is no slouch himself.

2. Penalty kill. If Harvard makes it a two goal game after two, there is no way we're coming back. It would have sucked the wind right out of our sails. Couple of solid games for Coach Ayers' crew.

3. Demko was tremendous. I think they should give him the next two days off in preparation for Notre Dame. The kid must be exhausted and extremely bruised up as he was hit hard a couple times last night.


1. The second period could have been the worst of the year. One stat tells the story....Harvard 15 shots, BC 2.

2. If they keep giving good teams a large amount of power plays, they're going nowhere in the postseason.

Players of game- Bunch of guys to choose from but I'll go with Fitz because that was a big strike.

Next- @ Notre Dame Friday and Saturday. Huge.

Also congrats to Coach Quinn and Boston University on their championship. That game was college hockey at it's very highest level and hopefully we can come back next year and bring the Pot back home.

No comments:

Post a Comment