|Photo from BC Athletics|
In one of the most unusual hockey games I've ever witnessed, Boston College extended their winning streak to eight games, defeating Michigan State 6-4. First of all, I thought MSU played outstanding hockey in the final forty minutes. They took it to BC for parts of the second and a large portion of the third. I didn't expect them to forecheck as hard as they did, especially early in the game but their aggressiveness resulted in far too many BC turnovers. As impressive as it was for BC to rebound from MSU's comeback, Sparty's ability to rally from a three goal deficit in under two minutes is not something that happens often in this building. Give their players and staff a lot of credit.
The first period was BC's best twenty minutes of this young season. They absolutely dominated the green and white, outshooting them by a 17-6 margin. After killing off an early penalty, the Eagles were rewarded with a power play of their own, doing everything but scoring on the man advantage. The staff went with two set units- White, Wood, Cangelosi, Savage, and Casey Fitzgerald as the "first" unit and Ryan Fitzgerald, Sanford, Tuch, McCoshen, Doherty as the "second" unit. Despite just one goal (and it was a big one) both lines moved the puck around well on the power play, as I thought they generated multiple grade A chances throughout the night. They tried to set up Savage and McCoshen for one timers and although some pucks got through, MSU did a terrific job of keeping most point shots away from Hildebrand. The fact that Michigan State got out of the first period without surrendering a goal was nothing short of a miracle.
The visitors controlled the middle period, gaining a majority in shots by quite a large margin (16-8). There is only one reason BC was able to escape the frame with a 2-1 lead, Colin White. The Hanover native continues to be on a tear as he recorded two goals to go along with an assist on Fitzgerald's first strike. That is twelve points in the past five games for the Ottawa Senators draft pick. To be honest, there weren't a ton of guys who played their very best tonight, in fact, the only ones who stood out were White, Wood, Tuch, Gilmour, and the Fitzgerald brothers. Speaking of Alex Tuch, outside of his second period penalty (was not a good call), he played his best game of the season, recording a goal and an assist.
After Michigan State tied the game no sooner then thirty seconds after White's first tally, the Eagles were forced to kill of a Joey Dudek hitting after the whistle infraction. As they have done all season, the penalty kill came through, not allowing a goal for the fourth consecutive game. They're 20/20 since Denver's Will Butcher notched a goal on October 30th. Just minutes after Dudek's penalty expired, White came through once again, finishing a highlight reel goal to regain the lead heading into the third. He is currently tied for the league lead in points with fifteen.
The third period had to be one of the most chaotic I've ever seen. Fitzgerald gave the Eagles a two goal cushion just 1:24 in and that was followed by Tuch's breakaway snipe which seemingly put the cherry on top. Not for Michigan State, as Sparty responded with three goals in under two minutes to tie the game 4-4. I can't remember the last time BC's allowed something like that to happen, especially on home ice. After the fourth MSU goal, Coach York called a timeout and the hockey Gods responded with a BC power play opportunity. After dozens of near misses, Miles Wood was able to redirect a Casey Fitzgerald shot, giving BC the lead for good with 1:56 to go. We could talk all day about the freshmen and their contributions to the team but I've only seen one rookie in this league look like he's on such a higher level than everybody on the ice. That guy was the #2 overall pick in this year's NHL draft. I'm not saying Wood or White are as good as Eichel but no one was expecting either of them to come here and be the top two players in Hockey East so early in their careers.
Being one of the youngest teams in college hockey, there are going to be times when BC is going to face adversity. The fact that they can recover from blowing a three goal lead in under two minutes is a testament to their resiliency and Coach York's ability to keep them fired up despite the devastating blow they had just been dealt. As I alluded to earlier, I thought Alex Tuch was a force out there for all sixty minutes. When he's playing at that level, it adds another weapon the already powerful arsenal. Hopefully it continues. Defensively, there were more miscues than what we've been accustomed to seeing. MSU's second goal was a result of BC not putting any pressure at the top of the zone and refusing to block a shot, the third goal was just a bad break as Fitzgerald lost an edge near the BC bench, and the tying goal was the byproduct of BC failing to rotate around the zone and provide coverage in front of the net. You cannot fault Demko for any of the tallies as I thought he played rather well for the majority of the game.
This concludes BC"s five game home stand as they will travel to New Hampshire next Saturday before heading to Connecticut the following Tuesday. A year ago this week, BC was in the middle of a four game losing streak. Ironically, that skid was ended with a 3-2 win at Michigan State. What a difference a year makes.
Why BC Won-
1. White, Fitzgerald, and Wood were tremendous. Ryan Fitz led the way with four points but I thought Colin White, once again, was their best forward. I've never seen a freshman get so much ice time; he plays power play, penalty kill, and in late game situations.
2. Power play performed when it mattered. If they continue to make plays and get pucks to the net like they did last night, they will become on the most potent units in the country.
3. They were able to bounce back after Michigan State tied it. I wonder what Coach York said during that timeout because they came out of it a totally different hockey team.
4. Penalty kill looked absurdly good. They didn't give up many grade A chances on the man down which is a positive sign.
1. There were too many defensive breakdowns. I know Demko is the best goalie in the country but even when it's 4-1 in the third, you can't expect him to stop 2 on 0's and point blank shots from eight feet out. BC has to do a better job of defending.
2. They have to stop taking so many penalties. As of this morning, Boston College is the second most penalized team in the country, averaging 23.20 minutes per game.
Notes- White and Tuch were both shaken up in the third period but they did not miss a shift.
Player of the game- White
Next- @ New Hampshire on 11/21
Go Eagles !