BC Starts Weekend Series Right Vs. UNH
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 20:01
Seeking redemption after two consecutive losses, the No. 7 Boston College men's hockey team looked to return to the win column at Kelley Rink against New Hampshire in the first game of a pivotal weekend series.
Only a week after being mercilessly swept by the University of Maine, head coach Jerry York's Eagles bounced back in front of their home crowd with a dramatic 4-3 victory over the UNH Wildcats on Friday night. The timely win not only snapped BC's losing streak, but kept them competitive atop the Hockey East with bitter rival Boston University.
"We responded very well, I thought," York commented on his team's effort. "We made some really great plays during a winnable time."
The Eagles came out of the gate poised to set the tone against UNH, taking an early advantage with a quick score off the stick of sophomore forward Kevin Hayes in the first minute of regulation.
Physical play against the boards and a solid showing from both goaltenders in the first frame would give way to an all-around offensive outburst.
New Hampshire's Austin Block tied the game with a score off of BC goalie Parker Milner's stick early in the second period, but the deadlock was broken just a few minutes later by a goal from UNH's Stevie Moses, giving the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
Despite falling behind, BC displayed its comeback mentality throughout the night, beginning with a timely, short-handed wrist shot from forward Chris Kreider that evened the score at two apiece. The junior's team-leading 15th goal of the season would be followed by gritty defense and missed offensive opportunities from both sides for most of the third period.
With less than five minutes to go, however, UNH's Scott Pavelski silenced Conte Forum after sneaking a go-ahead goal into the net. The momentum shift seemed strong enough to knock the Eagles down, just as they came back.
Yet the never-say-die Eagles and their perseverant brand of hockey refused to go quietly. With regulation time dwindling, BC freshman standout Johnny Gaudreau hastily tied the game with a wrister of his own, capitalizing on a key power play.
The game looked all but destined for overtime until York's Eagles made one last charge down the ice. Junior Pat Mullane connected with forward Steven Whitney, who fired a dramatic game-winning shot past UNH goalie Casey DeSmith with 51 seconds to play.
"Steve Whitney's goal was a remarkable effort," York said of the game's most decisive moment. "[He] made a really big goal there."
Whitney's last-minute heroics effectively sealed the much-needed 15th victory of the Eagles' season, but also capped an aggressive offensive effort in which BC outshot its opponent by a startling margin of 34-13.
York understands that creating opportunities at the net and executing will be vital as the Eagles push through the latter stages of the 2011-2012 campaign.
"We feel [that] we have some good goal scorers on our team," he said. "It's just a question of staying competitive in those situations."
Even in the midst of a crucial back-to-back series, the win gave a wearied BC squad reason to celebrate, reinvigorating the team after a tough string of conference matchups. The energy and resiliency the Eagles displayed Friday night will be huge factors in carrying the team through the stretch run of its season.
As a veteran forward, Whitney realizes, however, that taking on the obstacles of a college hockey season one day at a time and concentrating on the team's goals creates the recipe for a conference title.
"Those are a huge two points for us," Whitney said after the game. "Everyone's really excited, but we got to focus on [Saturday] night."