Sunday, November 22, 2015

Nine In a Row

Teddy Doherty had two goals for BC
In front of a packed crowd of 6,269 at the Whittemore Center, Boston College picked up its ninth consecutive victory, defeating New Hampshire 6-3. The Eagles had tallies from Ryan Fitzgerald, Teddy Doherty (x2), Matt Gaudreau, Adam Gilmour, and Miles Wood. I've said it over and over again but I love the way this team competes. That was not a 6-3 game, it was a battle right up until Gilmour tipped home a Casey Fitzgerald slap shot with under five minutes left to make a three goal game. Give UNH a lot of credit because, despite their rough season thus far, they played a tremendous hockey game. They were fast, physical, and forced BC to take an astonishing fourteen penalties. The trips to the box are a huge problem for BC as they continue to put themselves at risk of losing because of unnecessary infractions. They're going to play a lot of good hockey teams in March and April and if they keep going to the box, they won't be able to win those games.

I thought the first two periods were very even, evident by the 18-18 stalemate in shots. BC's penalty kill continued to light the world on fire as Ryan Fitzgerald rifled one over the shoulder of Daniel Tirone just 6:23 into the game, giving BC a 1-0 lead. The outlet pass from Colin White created the  play but it's astonishing how aggressive the Eagles are, even when a man down. Instead of changing once White got possession of the puck, Fitzgerald had the presence of mind to bolt across the neutral zone and try to make something out of nothing. Heck of a play. The Eagles continued to apply pressure on the UNH net but they were not able to take the two goal advantage. Late in the period, Zach Sanford was called for goaltender interference and the Wildcats capitalized, scoring the first "bad" goal Demko has given up all season. It was an odd angle shot which BC probably should have blocked (something they didn't do a good job of last night) but it wasn't the goal that was tough to swallow, it was the call. I try to avoid negative commentary about the officiating but that call against Sanford was one of the worst I have ever seen. He made a power move to the net and made barely made contact with Tirone, how is that goaltender interference?

The pace of play reached an even higher level in the middle stanza. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Chris Calnan was caught in the middle of a scrum and after being shoved to the ground, appeared to have separated his shoulder. He will miss an extended amount of time but hopefully they can get him back towards the end of January when the schedule gets tough. BC was handed a golden opportunity to take the lead when UNH took a pair on penalties within forty five seconds of each other. Although they moved the puck around beautifully, the maroon and gold were unable to find any twine, resulting in a momentum swing towards the home squad. I don't think UNH cleared the puck out of the BC end and the Eagles certainly had four or five high quality chances but the puck just would not go in. An Ian McCoshen hooking penalty negated the remainder of the power play. A minute after killing off McCoshen's minor, the Eagles were handed another power play and this time they came through as Teddy Doherty potted his fifth of the year with the helpers going to Tuch and Sanford. This was the second straight game in which the Tuch-Sanford-Gilmour line was a force on the ice, they created some terrific grade A chances and maintained possession for the majority of their ice time. There was one mishap in the third which led to a UNH goal but other than that, I liked the way they played. After Doherty's goal, BC started to take control of the game on both ends. Their defensive prowess began to show as UNH did not generate many five on five chances.

Do you remember what happened two years ago when BC played at UMass? The Eagles held a lead midway through the third period when the Minutemen appeared to tie the game. They reviewed the play but since there was no goalie interference or high stick, everyone figured they would call it a goal. It was offsides. No goal. John Micheletto, the UMass coach, looked as if he was going to kill somebody after the game. History almost came back to haunt BC as Matty Gaudreau tapped home a Colin White shot but UNH immediately called for a review. This time around, we all knew what they were reviewing. After a lengthy review, it was called a good goal. Those watching on TV thought it was certainly off but the bad camera angle most likely played into the ref's decision to uphold the call. That makes up for the Sanford penalty. Everything appeared to be fine until UNH capitalized on a BC offensive zone turnover and made it a one goal game with ten minutes to go. I thought BC's forwards could have done a better job of backchecking but they were in the midst of a long shift and probably didn't have enough left in the tank. The two defenseman did a good job of playing their assignments but when it's a 3 on 2, you need the first forward back to pick up that trailer and for whatever reason, it didn't happen. Given the way the Sanford line played, it's not all that big of a deal. The outcome was still up in air until Miles Wood made a sensational play, stopping midway through a rush in the offensive zone and firing a pass to a wide open Teddy Doherty who sent UNH fans to the exits with just over five minutes to go. Just a minute after that, Adam Gilmour tipped home a Casey Fitzgerald bomb to put a bow on the contest. Both teams would add late tallies to make the final 6-3.

I love the way this team battles. They lose one of their top nine forwards, they're on the road, and seemingly can't stay out of the penalty box; yet, they continue to score clutch goals, kill off crucial power plays, and most importantly, they have a goaltender who makes up for any glaring mistakes. I think Thatcher would like to have that first one back but other than that, he was very good. He made some unbelievable saves on a UNH power play in the second period when BC could not clear the puck and also late in the game when the Cats were buzzing. I thought Casey Fitzgerald and Steve Santini were terrific as the former is clearly comfortable with taking the puck up the ice and creating offense while the latter had a terrific bounce back game with three assists and a +3 rating. Ian McCoshen and Ryan Fitzgerald were the only other Eagles to be +3. In terms of forwards, it was the usual cast of characters. White and Fitzgerald led the way, Matty Gaudreau extended his point streak to six games (!!), Tuch continues to improve, and Wood was a force in the second and third periods. The Calnan injury is a bit of blow, especially considering that it was due to a post-whistle skirmish. Look for Chris Brown to take his spot on the third line while either Chris Shero or Peter McMullen fill Brown's void on the fourth line.

The Eagles will head to UConn on Tuesday night. We all know what happened there last season. Let's hope for some revenge on the Fighting Cavanaughs.

Why BC Won- 

1. Great all around play from the blue line. Doherty was the player of the game but Fitzgerald, Santini, and McCoshen were also tremendous. The Savage and Couturier pairing continues to become more reliable as the season progresses.

2. White, Fitzgerald, and Gaudreau are looking like the best line in Hockey East. White is probably the best player in the league but Fitzgerald is giving him a run for his money. Oh, and Matty G is on a roll.

3. Special teams were great. Both the power play and penalty kill are leaps and bounds better than they were last season.


1. They take so many penalties. Sure, there were some bad calls (Sanford) but for the most part, BC takes the most unnecessary penalties imaginable. If they stay out of the box, they'll blow everybody out of the water.

Player of the game- Teddy Doherty

Next- @ UConn on Tuesday. In case you needed a reminder- LINK 

Great win for Michigan yesterday as well!

Go Eagles.

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