Sunday, November 29, 2015

Eleven In a Row

Photo from BC Athletics

9:37 into last night's game versus RIT, it was nearly impossible for BC players, coaches, and fans not to remember the disaster that took place on the same weekend two years ago. Holy Cross came into Kelley Rink and knocked off an Eagle team that had won six of their past seven games and boasted the best player in college hockey. Looking to replicate the performance of their Atlantic Hockey counterpart, The Rochester Institute of Technology jumped out to a 2-0 advantage thanks to strikes within 1:29 of each other in the first period. It looked like BC would suffer a crushing loss on Thanksgiving weekend for the second time in three years.

Not with this team. 

Thanks to goals from Chris Brown, Ryan Fitzgerald (x2), Alex Tuch, Ian McCoshen, and Casey Fitzgerald, the Boston College Eagles held off a valiant effort from the RIT Tigers to win their 11th consecutive game. Forwards Matthew Gaudreau and Colin White extended their point streaks to eight games while White, with 21 points so far, has the same amount of points in thirteen games played as Jack Eichel did a season ago. BC controlled the entire contest, winning the shot battle by a 36-17 margin, but it was the visitors who jumped on the board first thanks to some luck and bad defense from BC. On the first tally, BC was in the midst of a change when RIT was able to get the puck up to their offensive blue line which resulted in what appeared to be a harmless one on two. Unfortunately, BC's defense did not close the gap quick enough which led to Abbott Dirduckis' second goal of the season. Just under two minutes later, RIT forward Erik Brown snapped a wrister from just inside the blue line, only to see it deflect off a BC stick and into the net. The place went silent. After that though, it was all maroon and gold. Chris Brown capitalized on a terrific pass from Miles Wood just ten seconds after RIT's latest goal and thus, the floodgates opened. Ryan Fitzgerald recorded two goals at the end of the period to give the Eagles the 3-2 advantage after twenty minutes. 

I've said this over and over again but it's remarkable how well the Fitzgerald-White-Gaudreau line has been this season. Coach York admitted in his post game press conference that he did not expect Matthew Gaudreau to be a key player for his club, but he could not be more excited about the way he is playing.  It is not fair to compare him to his brother but one thing they do have in common is a skill level that is heads and shoulders above most college hockey players. I'm not saying Matthew is as skilled as Johnny is- the latter is in a whole other stratosphere. However, Matthew is a terrific distributor of the puck in his own right and is probably more effective in his own end. I think the staff deserves a lot of credit for developing the younger Gaudreau into a reliable top nine player night in and night out. Then again, it doesn't hurt when you're playing with the best player in college hockey. 

I thought the second period was total domination as BC outshot their opponent by a 14-3 margin. Zach Sanford, Adam Gilmour, and Alex Tuch connected to give the Eagles a two goal edge early in the stanza. As good as White and Wood have been, I think we can all agree that it will be very difficult to win a National Title relying on freshmen alone which means they need that line to continue to score goals. Again, they don't need them to pot three goals every night, such as they did a season ago but, if they can contribute a goal or two per game, then BC will be nearly unbeatable (some would say they already are). I thought Sanford was one of their better forwards last night. When he's at his peak, he's dishing out terrific passes and making life difficult for the opponent in the defensive end with his length. I thought he did both of those against the Tigers. 

On another note, it was great to see them get points from the blue line. I've talked about how well Casey Fitzgerald has been throughout the year but it seems as if he improving game by game. I would be absolutely shocked if an NHL team did not take him in this summer's draft. Some fans have expressed their concern about the fact that Ian McCoshen has just three points this year but, I don't think it matters one bit. It's more than just putting points on the board with #3- he's been outstanding in how own end and on the penalty kill, evident by his +17 rating, which is tied for the league lead with Casey Fitz. Scott Savage continues to look like a totally different player from a season ago as he is certainly their most improved guy outside of Gaudreau. 

All in all, it's hard not to be happy about where this team is at. They could have thrown it in the towel after RIT notched two quick goals in the opening frame but instead, they dominated the remainder of the game. BC did not give into their opponent's physical style and limited RIT to just one power play, which is another step in the right direction for a team looking to cut back on it's penalty minutes. I wasn't pleased with the way RIT played for much of the second half but admittedly, if they were going to stay in it, they had to play as rough as possible. Onto Northeastern

Why BC won- 

1. The Gaudreau-White-Fitzgerald line was sensational. This has become a common theme throughout the year. 

2. The D corps chipped in offensively. It's not the end of the world if BC's defense doesn't contribute much on the offensive end (unlike last year) but when they do, the Eagles won't lose. 

3. They stayed out of the box. Two games in a row with less than five penalties. 


I got nothing. 

Players of the game- Matthew Gaudreau and Ryan Fitzgerald 

Note- Coach York indicated that Brendan Silk has nerve damage in his shoulder and will be out for two more months. 

Next- Northeastern on Saturday and Sunday. 

1 comment:

  1. Did coach York really say that Matt Gaudreau is "tougher than a two dollar steak"? I love it. Should be on a tee shirt...