|Photo from BC Athletics|
Thanks to a four point night from Colin White, Boston College defeated UMass 7-0, earning their first Hockey East victory and fourth shutout in five games, something that has never been done in program history. It is BC's seventeenth victory in their past eighteen home games vs Massachusetts.
First of all, I thought White was certainly their best player tonight. Obviously, the four points are what stand out in the box score but he made a couple of tremendous plays in his own zone that helped keep UMass off the board. Late in the first period, UMass forced a neutral zone turnover that resulted in what appeared to be a two on one but White turned on the jets and picked the guy's pocket, ending any threat. The Eagles came out firing in the first ten minutes, in fact, I don't think the Minutemen recorded their first shot until around the ten minute mark, maybe later. BC was handed a power play early in the opening period and although they had nothing to show for it, they moved the puck around the entire time. Admittedly, UMass does not have the best penalty kill in the world but there were drastic improvements from both power play units. They had a lot of zone time, generated grade A chances, and were rewarded with two goals on five opportunities. The final half of the opening twenty minutes were not BC's best as UMass garnered the majority of the scoring chances. Thanks to the speed and skill of this BC team, they play an extremely aggressive style of hockey, especially when it comes to the offensive side of things. For example, when wingers get the puck on the wall deep in the defensive zone, instead of just trying to chip it out and give up possession (which happened last year), they try to make high end plays. More often then not, these passes result in odd man rushes for the maroon and gold but in those final ten minutes of the first period, UMass did a good job of intercepting those looks and turning them into shots of their own.
The second marked BC's best twenty minutes of hockey so far this season. It was men versus boys out there. It may not be fair to talk about a most improved player over the course of seven games but from my vantage point, Adam Gilmour looks ten times better than he did against Army. The play he made at the offensive blue line in order to create a two on one was a terrific individual effort. A couple of minutes later, Chris Brown turned in the shift of the season when he single-handedly forced another UMass turnover behind their net, wrapped around the zone, and fired a bullet to Travis Jeke, who scored his first goal of the season. We have talked a lot about trying to find consistent four year guys and it looks like we have some real good ones in the making with Brown and Dudek. It has been three or four years since the staff has had the dilemma of deciding which is the "first" line. In 2012 you had the Kreider and Gaudreau lines battling for top minutes but ever since, it's been a one line show. I don't know if anyone could tell you who BC's "best" line is at the moment. Two nights ago I would have answered with Calnan's line but when you have Ryan Fitzgerald, Colin White, and Matthew Gaudreau lighting the world on fire, how can you justify saying it isn't them? Certainly a little bit different than last year when we were trying to figure out if we even had a first line. It's kind of unreal to think that this team can put up seven goals without Calnan, Cangelosi, Tuch, or Sanford registering one point. Don't get me wrong, I thought a couple of those guys played well but seeing the fourth line play as well as it did is highly encouraging.
On the defensive side of things, there isn't anything to critique. They're playing sound hockey, giving up very few odd man rushes, killing penalties, and perhaps most notably, the forwards are back-checking. I used the White example in the first paragraph but it isn't just him. Considering the fact that this team is playing lightning fast hockey and they're the youngest team in the country, it is perfectly reasonable to expect some mishaps. But, when the forwards do turn it over (not often), they're doing a heck of a job of getting back and picking up trailers, which is compensating for any neutral zone lapses.
It's pretty ironic how last season all we talked about was needing to get goals from defenseman but it just never came to fruition. Seven games into the 2016 season, BC's blue liners have combined for seven goals and twenty points. Scott Savage, another one of those guys that has made some major improvements to his game, recorded his first goal in almost two years last night. It's certainly nice to see him playing the way he was freshman year. Do I need to even talk about Demko? It's like having brick wall back there.
All in all, another nice step in the right direction. These guys are starting to morph into the squad I figured we would see at some point this season, an utterly dominating group that is bigger, faster, stronger, and tougher than anyone else. I've never seen a BC team play with such an edge to their game, if you hit them, they're coming right back at you with a vicious right hook. I have not looked at the replay on Ryan Fitzgerald's disqualification but I love the fact that guys are stepping up for their teammates. No word on whether or not the staff will try to appeal the one game suspension.
One final note. How in the world did UMass hire John Micheletto over Mike Cavanaugh and Greg Brown? Are my missing something here?
Why BC Won-
1. Just total domination, no other way to put it. The speed and size became too much for the lowly Minutemen to handle.
2. The "second" line was outstanding. I don't know what the order is but White, Fitz, and Matty Gaudreau turned in their second straight big game.
3. #28 is pretty good eh?
No goals from Tuch. I know it sounds like I've been talking non-stop about this but it isn't because I think he is playing poorly, it's because everybody knows about his talent and goal scoring capabilities. They need to get him going.
Player of the game- White
Injury Note- Gilmour appears to be a little banged up. Didn't skate today.
Next- Maine on Friday.