I've been following BC Hockey all my life and I'm not sure I have ever been more satisfied with a tie than I was last night. After being dominated by the Providence College Friars in the first half of the game, the Eagles stormed back with three goals in a row to take three points from the #3 Friars. It was a tale of two totally different games- Providence established their style of play early on, evident by the 22-7 shot differential in the first period. However, after the home team took a 4-1 lead six minutes into the second period, BC played as hard as I've ever seen a BC team play in order to bring a crucial point back to Chestnut Hill.
Despite the lopsided shot total in the opening stanza, it was the maroon and gold who got on the board first thanks to Ian McCoshen's power play one timer. I don't think Providence was able to clear the puck once during the entire two minutes which is a testament to how good BC's power play was this weekend (5 for 7). They are not settling for lousy shots from wide angels, instead they're forcing the opponent to move around the zone, which is opening up lanes in the middle of the zone. As I said last night, if the Eagles continue to score at this rate on the man advantage, it will become nearly impossible to beat them.
Unfortunately, the fast start did not last long as the Friars recorded a power play tally of their own just three minutes after McCoshen's strike. Not really anything BC could have done on the play, just a great move by Erik Foley, who came out of the corner and roofed one bar down to even the score. Although they gave up a couple goals on the weekend, BC's penalty kill continues to put an enormous amount of pressure on opponents as they were rewarded with a couple of breakaways while being a man down. Although the Friars controlled the play for the remainder of the period, the Eagles were able to withstand the onslaught until the final minutes. Nick Saracino pounced on a rebound with just over thirty seconds left in the period and just seventeen seconds after that, defenseman John Gilmour played the puck off of Ian Milosz's back and into the net- giving PC a two goal advantage at the break. I thought Providence did a much better job of getting pucks and bodies to the net, especially in the first period, which is a key element to their game and something Nate Leaman wanted to improve. BC clearly made a concentrated effort to get out to the points and prevent guys like Walman from ripping shots but PC countered that with a strong net-front game that allowed them to control the opening twenty minutes.
The early portion of the second period was more of the same. PC sent in a relentless forecheck that resulted in a litany of BC turnovers, one of which led to a fourth Friar goal. However, after that tally, the game completely changed. The most pivotal moment of the contest was when Teddy Doherty scored a goal from a brutal angle while there was a delayed call on PC. Exactly one minute into the man advantage, Alex Tuch, who was BC's best all around player this weekend, redirected a Doherty shot by Nick Ellis, making it a one goal game.
Hockey, perhaps more so than any other sport, is a game of momentum. After BC scored two goals late in the second, everybody in the building knew they would come out flying in the third. Just four minutes into the period, Chris Calnan forced a turnover in the neutral zone and fired a wrister past Ellis to even the score and set the stage for a nail-bitting ending. BC was given a golden opportunity to take the lead on a power play shortly after Calnan's tally and they did everything but score. As the period wound down, it was clear the refs were looking to call anything on BC after the Eagles jumped out to a 3-1 advantage in terms of power plays. Like clockwork, the penalties arrived, but BC's penalty killing unit held the Friars off the board and only allowed one real quality chance (a goal that was called back).
The overtime was relatively slow paced and only resulted in one opportunity for BC- an Adam Gilmour shot from right in front of the net.
If you had told me on Thursday night that BC would take three points this weekend, I would have taken it any day of the week. X's and O's aside, I absolutely love the way this team battled, especially down 4-1 on the road in an imposing environment. There have been multiple games this season where they have overcome adversity to get a positive result- NU, MSU, and Denver among others- and I think that says a lot about the leadership from the staff and captains. I thought a lot of guys played at a high level over the course of these past two games- Alex Tuch seems to be rounding into that dominant force we figured he would be before the season began, Austin Cangelosi had three points, Zach Sanford is playing at the top of his game, and overall, they just seem to be gelling as a unit. The special teams numbers speak for themselves as the power play went 5 for 7 in both games combined while the penalty kill saved the day late in the third period on Saturday night. Providence was not going to let Colin White dominate them for a second straight game which is why we saw their #1 line and defensive pairing out there against #18 throughout the night, but that opened the door for BC's other lines to make something happen. On the defensive side of things, there is certainly room for improvement, especially in the turnover department, but I thought Teddy Doherty played his best game of the season, evident by his two points and +2 rating.
All in all, great weekend for the maroon and gold- I could not be proud of them. We can talk about the pairwise and Hockey East standings all we want but at the end of the day, the most important part of this series was BC being able to build momentum heading into next weekend and they accomplished that. Let's get ready for the scarlet and white.
1. The resiliency they showed after going down 4-1. After the game, while Blogger was fist pumping over the result, players were visibly upset by what I thought was a great result. In my mind, that says a lot about this team.
2. Power play. Coach Brown's unit had its best weekend of the year.
3. The two penalty kills in the third period. Again, hats off to Ian Milosz on what was one heck of a performance. I don't care how many goals he allowed, the fact that he came in here and gave his team a chance to win tells me all I need to know.
4. Tuch was terrific- he and Doherty were BC's two best skaters.
1. That first period was not good. PC was skating circles around the Eagles.
Note- Coach York said Thatcher Demko's status is day to day which has me thinking there is a chance he goes next weekend. We will see what happens as the week progresses.