|Photo from BC Athletics|
Thanks to yet another stellar performance from Thatcher Demko, the Boston College Eagles picked up their seventh consecutive victory, a 2-0 decision over Maine. It is their longest such streak since winning eleven in a row two years ago. Junior Ryan Fitzgerald recorded a goal in his first game back from suspension while freshmen Miles Wood (one goal) and Colin White (two assists) combined for three points as they continue to lead the team in goal scoring.
I've seen a lot of outstanding performances in my ten plus years of paying in-depth attention to BC Hockey. Nathan Gerbe single-handily won us a national title, the Atkinson-Gibbons-Whitney line was a treat to watch every night, and of course, G was the greatest. However, I've never seen anything like what Thatcher Demko is currently doing to the rest of college hockey. Six shutouts in seven games? Are you kidding me? I don't care if you're playing the Boston Bruins or the Newton mites, six shutouts is six shutouts, especially when you consider the fact he's coming off major hip surgery this summer. It is incredible to watch.
I thought BC played fine but they certainly can take it up a few more notches. I'm going to get into this more later but it is good to see that they can find a way to win games versus teams that present different styles of play. On Tuesday, we a saw a UMass team that attempted to match BC's skill in a finesse, north-south style game. There is not one team in the entire country that can keep up with these guys when the pace of play is at that level. It will be a blowout every single time. Maine, whether you like it not, presents a totally different style of hockey which is sad because they used to be fun to watch with Abbott and that crew. I don't know if the Black Bears were out there to play a hockey game against Boston College because to me, they were more interested in hurting guys. Hockey East needs Maine to return to being a relevant program because at this rate, it's going to be a two (maybe three if PC keeps up on the recruiting trail) horse race for the next four or five years.
I thought it was an average opening period for the maroon and gold. They certainly gave up more "grade A" chances tonight than on Friday but Demko, like usual, was there to cover for any miscues. Ryan Fitzgerald, Colin White, and Matthew Gaudreau continue to play the role of "top" line as Fitzgerald fired home a wrister through traffic midway through the period, with the helpers going to his linemates. That is nine points in the past four games for White and five in the last four for Gaudreau. It's amazing how the addition of two players (White and Wood) has enhanced the play of guys like Matty G, Ryan Fitz, Calnan, and Cangelosi in such a short amount of time. A season ago, we saw Eichel turn what was the worst BU team I've ever seen in 2014 into a national title contender and while I'm not saying BC's two star rookies are on that level, they certainly are not far behind because the lineup as a whole has improved tremendously. I'd say the same thing for Chris Brown but since the fourth line isn't necessarily a goal scoring machine, it goes largely unnoticed by some. A year ago, I'd throw my hands over my arms when the fourth unit was on the ice but now the staff has them going against opponents' top pairings! Huge improvements all around.
The second period was a terrific opportunity for the Eagles to blow the doors off of Maine with three power play chances but they could not cash in. The staff has spent a lot of time tinkering with different combinations so they decided to put White with Fitz and Wood on one unit and the Gilmour line on another. In fact, they had Gilmour and Fitzgerald playing at the point with the absence of Doherty (I'll get to that). Yes, both units struggled but once Doherty gets back, I'm sure they will be fine. Despite the fickle play on the man advantage, BC has a power play goal in seven of nine games thus far.
The final twenty minutes were a total circus. The Eagles started out well as Wood potted his third of the year on the power play fourteen minutes in. After that, all hell broke loose. BC began to create some turnovers at the defensive blue line which gave way to multiple odd man rushes, none of which they were able to finish off. However, after Wood barely missed from point blank range, he was viciously mauled by three or four Black Bears, including goaltender Rob McGovern. A brawl ensued and the results were game misconducts for Wood, Casey Fitzgerald, and White for the Eagles. Swavely, McGovern (he was in the box), and Renouf for the Black Bears. I honestly don't think this is the type of hockey Red Gendron wants to play. He's been a part of some terrific NHL and NCAA teams full of highly skilled guys that could move the puck, not a pack of goons who were looking to take heads off. The brawl is what it is. What happened after it though, is not.
Before reading the next paragraph, watch this video from the guys at BCI. Please look at the very last one at the very bottom of the page.
I didn't see what happened at the time it took place so I figured Nolan Vesey and Demko just ran into each other and exchanged pleasantries. Clearly, that did not occur. Vesey's actions were vicious, they were intending to harm Thatcher, and there is no place for incidents like that in college hockey. It was an utterly despicable display and I sincerely hope Red Gendron does the right thing and suspends him for five or six games. He went out of his way to deliberately harm a BC player that couldn't even see him. It was disgusting, it was classless, and it reflects poorly on the University of Maine hockey program. Thank goodness no one was hurt.
Anyways, four is four points and the show goes on. No doubt they have a lot of areas that need some fine tuning but the speed, the talent, and the toughness are there. I was reading one of the Maine message boards this afternoon and one of their guys called it the "dirtiest" BC Hockey team he has ever seen. They're not dirty, they're just tough. You hit them, they're coming after you like a freight train and I absolutely love it.
Why BC Won-
1. Demko. Copy and paste.
2. White and Wood were spectacular. What else is new?
3. Penalty kill. Copy and paste.
They had a power play goal which is nice but I still think they can improve on the man advantage. Not worried though, there's too much talent for them not to succeed.
1. Demko is first goalie with six shutouts in seven games since Brian Lacher from LSSU in 1994. Kudos to BC SID Mark Majewski for digging that one up.
2. BC is second in the nation in faceoffs (57%).
3. Demko's save percentage this year is .974. Insane.
Injury report- Doherty has a separated shoulder. Out 7-10 days.
Next- Michigan State on Friday.