Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Photo from Hartford Courant
About five minutes before last night's game began, the scoreboard operators at the XL Center thought it would be a good idea to show the highlights from UConn's dramatic win over BC last season. Just as the run through of former Eagle Evan Richardson's power play goal came onto the screen (the only goal scored in that game), Coach York and company hit the ice. As the players made their way to the goal line for intros and the staff glided over to the bench, they could not help but look at the tape from perhaps the most devastating regular season loss in recent memory. The play by play of the last ten seconds engulfed the entire rink and fans began to cheer. If all went according to plan, it would be another magical night for the Huskies and their fans.


Thanks to goals from Austin Cangelosi, Colin White, Josh Couturier, Miles Wood, and Matty Gaudreau, the Boston College Eagles won their tenth straight game and at 11-1, are off to the best start ever under Coach York. I can't remember a time like the first period in which BC looked so much better than an opponent. In fact, I'm not sure UConn registered a shot within the first ten minutes, they certainly didn't get any qualities looks. Even though Cav has always been a proponent of playing an uptempo style of hockey, I figured he would have the Huskies playing conservatively because nobody can beat BC in a track meet. For whatever reason, UConn kept trying to make fancy passes through the neutral and offensive zones which resulted in almost a dozen odd man rushes for the maroon and gold. Austin Cangelosi, who played his best game of the year, got the Eagles on the board after digging for a loose puck in front of the UConn goal. There were no highlights and I did not get a good look at the play from where I was sitting but the refs did not blow the whistle which allowed BC to hammer away at the puck and eventually, it crossed the goal line. Under a minute later, UConn was breaking into BC's end but another turnover at the blue line resulted in a three on one for the maroon and gold. None other than Colin White, who continues to scorch the rest of the country with three points on the night, fired home a Ryan Fitzgerald pass to make it 2-0. BC continued to dictate the play when Josh Couturier recorded his first goal which was followed by a bullet from Miles Wood that almost took Rob Nichols' head off. I'm not sure how much they talked about last November coming into the matchup, but clearly, BC was ready to play last night. You're not always going to play at your highest levels because the parity in college hockey is so great these days- but, the first twenty minutes last night should serve as a reference point to how good this team can be. They have showcased their abilities to the full extent at some times this season such as last night, the first period vs Denver, and the second period vs UMass, but if they were able to play at that level for sixty minutes, it would be an impressive sight. I'm not sure why UConn came out so flat. With their season beginning to fall apart, I thought they would be ready to play the best team in the country on their home sheet. For whatever reason, that was not the case.

Although the Fighting Cavs were not able to keep up with the Eagles in the first period, they carried the play in the final two. As was the case vs Michigan State, BC began to feel that the game was over (who can blame them) which allowed the Huskies to manufacture grade A chances in front of Thatcher Demko. Fortunately, the BC netminder continued his stellar play and allowed just one goal on thirty shots. The biggest difference between last night and Saturday was that BC didn't unravel by taking loads of penalties. In fact, the Eagles gave their opponents just four power plays. For the first time all season, the staff rolled three lines as neither Peter McMullen nor Travis Jeke saw any ice time. Joey Dudek was out there for three or four shifts once BC's power plays expired. UConn  became a little more physical and started finishing their checks as the game wore on, which left some BC players visibly frustrated. The Huskies were unable to inch any closer in the middle stanza but sophomore forward Spencer Naas found a hole in the BC defense early in the third to make it a three goal game. Just minutes later, UConn had another golden opportunity when a rebound found it's way to one of their forwards who had all day to fire it home, only to be denied by a Demko diving stop. Perhaps Connecticut would have been able to make it a barn burner if BC had taken a large amount of penalties but for the first time all year, they avoided that predicament.

I thought Colin White, Ryan Fitzgerald, Matty Gaudreau, and Miles Wood were BC's best forwards. The two freshmen make all the difference in the world with their speed and playmaking abilities. It takes special players to raise the levels of those around them like Miles Wood and Colin White have. It's not just their offensive capabilities though, it's their defensive awareness and relentless pursuit of the puck that have made an immediate impact. Ryan Fitzgerald continues to be a magician with the puck as he morphing into an elite playmaker while his linemate, Matthew Gaudreau, has been by far and away the biggest surprise thus far. If you told me in August that he would have a seven game point streak going, I would have wondered if you were on drugs.  UConn did not have a lot of time to make decisions with the puck, particularly in the first period. The reason? BC refused to give the opponent any leeway when breaking the puck out of the defensive zone. As for the blue line, solid as usual. Josh Couturier and Scott Savage were both tremendous as they were a combined +5 on the night, highest out of any defensive pairing. Savage's +3 rating was the best on the team. Demko was awesome as always.

Little bit of a different car ride home for blogger compared to last year. Onto RIT.

Why BC won- 

1. Their top two lines were dominant in the first period. Chris Brown filled in admirably for Calnan as there were no steps back for that line while Fitz/White/Gaudreau controlled the play every shift.

2. Demko held down the fort after the first period.

3. They stayed out of the box. UConn had only four power plays.


1. They can play a heck of lot better than they did in the second and third periods. I would not be surprised to see them roll four lines for the majority of the game on Saturday. Once Calnan (or Silk) is back, they will be able to go with four deep.

Player of the game- Cangelosi (White to, but he gets it every game)

Next- RIT on Saturday

Happy Thanksgiving. Go Eagles !

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