Saturday, January 16, 2016

Round One to the Good Guys

Photo from BC Athletics

The rivalry between Boston College and Boston University has produced some of the best college hockey games I have ever seen and Friday night was no different. Thanks to a power play goal from Ian McCoshen with just over two minutes to go, the Eagles picked up their second consecutive victory over their heated rival and will look to give Coach York his 1,000th victory tonight @ Agganis Arena. I know David Quinn was disappointed with the way his team played but the Terriers battled hard all night against a team that was a bit faster and more skilled. Their first line of Forsbacka-Karlsson, O'Regan, and Cloonan created a good amount of chances around the BC net and it will be up to BC to find a way to contain them tonight.

The key to the game was power plays as all of BU's goals were scored on the man advantage (3/6 on the night) while the Eagles turned in another terrific performance on the man advantage, going 2 for 7. As I said in the preview, BU's strength is their talented blue line and clearly, their power play runs through those guys. Freshman Charlie McAvoy was one of the most impressive players on the ice as was JFK, another Terrier rookie. I thought BC did a good job, for the most part, of preventing the Terriers from getting a ton of grade A chances when they were set up in the zone but BU's transition game on the power play led to a pair of goals early on. When it was 5 on 5, BC had the upper hand because of their speed but the best part of BU's game was certainly their ability to push the puck up the ice and create chances off the power play rush. I didn't think the Eagles played a great first period, in fact, I thought it was one of the most boring periods of hockey I have seen these two teams play. Outside of a Colin White breakaway chance and JFK's goal for BU, most of the action took place in the neutral zone, which favored the Terriers.

The final two periods were much better in terms of puck possession and creating chances. Austin Cangelosi capitalized on a penalty shot opportunity after picking a BU defenseman's pocket at the blue line and getting tripped shortly before making a move on Sean Maguire. Unfortunately, just eighteen seconds after Cangelosi's tally, Ahti Oksanen fired home a beautiful pass form JFK, giving BU their second power play goal of the night. It seemed to me that right after they gave up this goal, BC took their game to another level. Zach Sanford pounced on a loose puck in front of the BU net and roofed one top shelf to even the game with fifteen minutes remaining in the middle stanza. I think Sanford is morphing into one of the go to guys not just on this team, but in the entire league. The staff clearly trust the sophomore out of New Hampshire because they basically have him running the power play, killing every penalty, and playing left wing in late game situations. I have been impressed with his development over the past year and a half- hopefully it continues. Late in the period, BU began to get themselves into penalty trouble which resulted in an unbelievable passing play from Casey Fitzgerald to White, giving the Eagles a 3-2 lead heading into the final twenty minutes. White is the best player on the team (and in my opinion the country) so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he stepped up in a clutch situation but, Casey Fitzgerald played one of his best games of the season when BC most needed it. In a game where there were a lot of highly skilled defenseman, he was, in my mind, the best skater out of all of them.

The 3-2 advantage was nice but everyone in the building knew the Terriers were going to come back given the way they have battled in the third period throughout the year. Ironically, it was the home team that controlled the play for the majority of the third, just missing out on a few chances to up their lead to two.  BC continued to control the pace until Michael Kim was whistled for goalie interference with five minutes left. Both teams were upset about the way the game was called and I personally think they should let the two teams play but you can't blame Kim for this mistake-he was going to the net hard and just couldn't find a way to put on the breaks. They're going to call that every time. Anyways, as expected, Matt Lane evened the score after a one timer from the point popped up in the air after hitting Demko.

I haven't seen a replay of the call on Bobo Carpenter but judging off the tweets from the BU faithful (don't put stock into those) it was not the type of penalty you whistle late in the game. As a result, BC's loaded power play converted as Ian McCoshen released an absolute bomb from the point- giving the Eagles the lead for good. I know Zach Werenski gets a lot of hype but there is no defenseman I would rather have on my team than McCoshen. The offensive aspect of his game has drastically improved over these past three years and his defensive prowess has always been top notch which is why we see him out there for practically every situation.

Outside of McCoshen and Sanford, the other guy that jumped out to me was Austin Cangelosi. The Estero, Florida native had a difficult sophomore year but his development has been nothing short of remarkable. When you surround him with guys that can fly, such as Miles Wood, than a line like that can create numerous odd man rushes when given space. BC has a bit of a problem when it comes to face-offs but Cangelosi has been entrusted by the staff to take the most meaningful draws whether it was the one that led to McCoshen's power play goal or the defensive zone battles with JFK late in the game. Thatcher Demko made some key saves early on to ensure that BU didn't take a two goal advantage at any point in the game and I'm not sure you can fault #30 for any of the goals allowed.

The most talked about storyline in college hockey is the fact that Coach York has a chance to get his 1,000th win versus his arch rival. The Eagles have had tremendous success at the Jack Parker Rink, going 11-3-1 since it was built in 2004. In saying that, I think this will be the toughest regular season game BC has played in a long time, perhaps ever. BU people despise (for lack of a better term) BC and there is nothing that would anger them more than seeing the man that has transformed the Comm Ave rivalry get 1,000 wins on the ice named after his nemesis. Quinn will have his guys ready to run through a wall tonight and I expect them to play their best game of the season. It will be up to BC to control their emotions and stay out of the box because it always seems to hinder their chances at getting key victories.

Great win, let's see if they can get it done again tonight.

Why BC won- 

1. Power play was humming. Make that three straight excellent games for Coach Brown's unit. They are moving the puck around as well as the 2012 team did when they had a man advantage- and boy, could they distribute the biscuit.

2. Austin Cangelosi and Ian McCoshen were the two best players on the ice. I can't think of any college hockey player that I've seen who has a harder shot than McCoshen. It is incredible. Cangelosi looks like another version of Barry Almeida- which is a heck of an accomplishment.

3. BC's 5 on 5 transition game gave BU problems. The Terriers had a tough time keeping up with the Eagles, which is why you saw them take a lot of penalties in the neutral zone while BC was pushing the puck up ice. The Eagles have to make sure the game tonight is played as fast as possible.


1. Too many penalties. I'm not sure what Santini did wrong on the penalty that led to BU's first power play goal but generally, BC took a lot of unnecessary penalties. This may be the one aspect of their game preventing them from being truly dominant.

Players of the game- Ian McCoshen and Austin Cangelosi

Notes- The staff moved Teddy Doherty up to forward midway through the second period. Adam Gilmour played third line while Doherty was with Sanford and Tuch. Chris Calnan might be banged up as he did not play much in the final ten minutes. Also, BU goalie Sean Maguire appeared to pull something while jumping over the boards- he went right to the tunnel.

Next- @ BU tonight. 7 PM.

Go Eagles

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