Sunday, January 17, 2016

Late Fitzgerald Goal Gives BC Crucial Tie

Ryan Fitzgerald had the tying goal for BC
As time was winding down in the third period and BC continued to dominate their arch rival while still trailing by a goal, I couldn't get over how hard the team was playing. I'm not knocking past Eagle squads- all of them brought a high level of energy every night, but the 2015-16 team takes things to another stratosphere and once again, they were able to take three critical points from a quality opponent thanks to a late third period goal. I thought Boston University played a terrific hockey game, especially in their own end and neutral zone. Although the Eagles had their share of odd man rushes, mostly in the final two periods, BU, particularly Sean Maguire, played exponentially better than they did on Friday night. Only one team has beaten the Eagles with Colin White and Miles Wood in the lineup (RPI) and BU was this close thanks to a couple of sensational saves from their junior netminder.

The first half of the game belonged to the home team. BU came out ready to play and was rewarded with a pair of power plays early on. Perhaps the biggest adjustment both teams made was their penalty kills as the two schools were a combined 0 for 10 on the man advantage. Thatcher Demko made an unbelievable save on Danny O'Regan right on the doorstep after a terrific pass from a BU defenseman (I think it was Grzelyck)- it could have been his best of the year. The tide turned as BC was given 1:23 of five on three thanks to back to back penalties from Jordan Greenway and John MacLeod. The vaunted BC power play which has looked so good over the past few weeks, failed to post anything although they generated a couple of quality looks, only to be denied by a sprawling Maguire. The staff certainly feels they have two set units and it seems as if Cangelosi, R. Fitzgerald, Wood, C. Fitzgerald, and McCoshen is there go to lineup because they were given the majority of power play time. There was one play when Cangelosi came out of the corner and ripped a shot off the blocker of Magure, only to see if deflect out of play. The face-off should have been inside the BU end but for some reason, the refs had it outside and BU was able to kill off the rest of the five on three.

The Terriers continued to control the play for the first half of the second period and were finally rewarded when Grzelyck tipped home an O'Regan point shot. This was perhaps the only time all weekend where BC collapsed defensively and I'm not sure what happened. The game became way too wide open which led to a breakaway for JFK when the only guy back for BC was forward Alex Tuch. Demko made another unreal save on the breakaway but BC had three guys sucked in front of the net and Grzelyck was able to camp out in the slot before redirecting O'Regan's shot past Demko. JFK created the entire play but give credit to the BU captain for having the presence of mind to go in the slot to try and make something happen. Nothing Demko could do. After that goal however, I thought BC turned on the jets and dominated the remainder of the game.

Outside of few shots from the point for BU, the Eagles controlled possession for the majority of the final period. They had two unbelievable chances, both of which were the results of great plays from Adam Gilmour- he made a nifty no look pass to Miles Wood who just missed the tap in goal and seconds after that, Magurie robbed the Minnesota Wild draft pick with a beautiful glove save. Gilmour is a big kid but he has some skill to his game and placing him with Wood and Cangelosi was a smart move by the staff because he was able to play to his strengths, especially on the offensive side of things. As the clock continued to tick, BC pressed but could not solve Maguire. Just when all hope seemed to be lost, Matthew Gaudreau made a sensational pass to Ryan Fitzgerald, who fired home his 13th goal of the season (leads team). Both teams had a few chances at the end of the the period and overtime but the goaltenders stood tall and the Eagles were able to take home three of four points from their Comm Ave rival.

I'm proud of the way this team battles. They might not win every game but they play hard, they play physical, and perhaps most notably, they play fast. Instead of throwing it in the towel after BU went up 1-0, BC responded with perhaps their best 30 minutes of hockey all season and if it wasn't for Sean Maguire, that game would have been 5-1. They still took far too many penalties, most of them being unnecessary, but the penalty kill was on the top of their game, keeping the high powered Terrier power play off the board. It's hard to sustain the type of success BC has had on the power play as of late and I think they would like to have that long 5 on 3 back but both units generated some quality looks- BU made some adjustments with their penalty kill by keeping most of BC's puck movement to the perimeter instead of letting them work the puck around the slot. A couple of guys stood out to me. I don't think any player was more criticized for his play in the first half than Alex Tuch but ever since the World Jr snub, he has been, outside of perhaps White, BC's best player. I see a renewed sense of urgency with regards to #12 and it's not just noticeable in games but practice as well. We all know how skilled he is offensively but he is becoming a physical force below the goal line and often creates a bunch of neutral zone turnovers with his stick skills.  In college hockey, they don't keep track of playing time but I would love to know how much Ian McCoshen and Casey Fitzgerald played last night. Over the last 25 minutes, I would bet they were out there for over 17 or 18 minutes. Both of those guys played very well. Lastly, I don't think there is a more underrated player in college hockey than Ryan Fitzgerald. White and Wood get all the headlines but Fitzgerald doesn't lead the team in goals by accident.

All in all, taking 6 of 8 points versus PC and BU is something this team can build on heading into trophy season. Obviously, it would have been nice to get the 1,000th win at BU but I'm sure Coach York would be the first to tell you that pairwise numbers matter more than personal numbers. The Eagles will travel to UMass on Friday night before hosting the Fighting Cavanaughs on Saturday.


1. The penalty kill. Led by Thatcher Demko, BC's PK was much better than it was on Friday night. The Terriers were 0 for 5 on the PP.

2. It is clear that BC can take their game to a level that not many teams can reach. The way they move the puck when they're on is truly special and fun to watch.


1. The five on three. It wasn't that BC was unable to manufacture any chances, they did, Maguire just made some big time stops.

Player of the game- Ryan Fitzgerald

Next- @ UMass on Friday.

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