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MEN'S HOCKEY: Eagles Complete Comeback

Down 3-0, BC Scores Four Goals To Beat Merrimack

Sports Editor

Published: Monday, November 19, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

For a short time, it looked as though No. 1 Boston College didn’t have enough fuel after an emotional two wins last weekend to beat Merrimack on Friday night at Kelley Rink. The Warriors scored three goals in a furious span of four minutes and 36 seconds, leaving the Eagles on their heels. But 1:48 later, a beautiful pass from Johnny Gaudreau to Steven Whitney and Whitney’s ensuing rocket of a goal changed the entire game.

“From my perspective, down 3-0, Merrimack had all that jump—they were really taking it to us,” said head coach Jerry York. “It was a dangerous time in the game because they felt very good about themselves. The momentum was swinging clearly to Merrimack’s favor.”

Gaudreau had the puck coming out of BC’s defensive zone at the blue line, and he sent it across the ice and up to the next blue line, where Whitney was flying down the right side. The senior received the pass and toe dragged the puck before firing it past Merrimack goalie Sam Marotta.

“Stevie Whitney’s goal there just kind of ignited the whole bench,” York said. “I thought Johnny made an unbelievable pass through just across the blue line to Stevie. He just had a rocket that beat Marotta. Once you get the first one, it’s just like ‘Oh, let’s keep it going.’”

“I didn’t do too much on that goal,” Gaudreau said. “I made a nice pass, but that individual effort on the shot from the top of the circles—you don’t see that often.”

That goal made it a 3-1 deficit, and it was just the spark BC needed to begin its comeback. Just over four minutes later, the Eagles struck again, this time on a power play clean-up goal from defenseman Patrick Wey. After Marotta made multiple saves on BC shots, a loose puck found its way out to Wey in the circle, and he buried it with Marotta out of position.

The equalizer came just a minute and three seconds after, when Danny Linell crashed the net and secured his first goal of the year. After receiving a pass from Cam Spiro, Linell skated in to Marotta’s right side and backhanded the puck top-shelf to tie the game 3-3.

The teams entered the second intermission tied, but the Eagles had all the momentum.

“We continued to do what we’re taught out there and stuck to our game plan, and we all believed that we could come back and win the game,” Whitney said. “So we just stuck to it through the rest of the game.”

Midway through the third period, the Gaudreau-Whitney connection came to fruition again, and provided the game winner for BC. Once again, Whitney received a perfect pass from Gaudreau, and ripped off another shot on goal, which went top-shelf past Marotta for the 4-3 lead.

“He was on fire tonight, Stevie Whitney,” York said. “I think what’s terrific about Steven’s shooting ability is how quick his release is. He just snaps it off, it’s not a big slap shot. It’s a snap shot.”

Parker Milner remained solid in net for BC in the remaining time during the third period, securing the win for the Eagles, their ninth straight. Milner finished the night with 23 saves.

“I think the biggest thing we’ll take as a club is just the character we showed coming back from a difficult, difficult 3-0 lead for Merrimack,” York said.

Whitney said that BC entered the game with the right mindset thanks to York, approaching it one game at a time and not experiencing a hangover from its emotional wins over Notre Dame and BU last weekend.

“We have one game that we focus on, and that’s the next one,” Whitney said.

In the end, it was another Hockey East win for the Eagles, which they will take, given the danger that any given conference game presents to a team every night.

“I think it’s a great sign that we were able to look at a deficit and still keep working and keep battling back,” York said. “There’s a lot of good teams in our league, and it’s a difficult run from October through March. But when you have history where you can say you’ve come back from deficits—because we’re going to be down, we’re not going to always lead games. Our seniors have gone through some fire over the last four years, and they keep their cool and stay calm.”

Cool and calm enough that a three-goal deficit is not a terrifying thing for BC. Instead, the Eagles welcome it as just another challenge they get to overcome.

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