Sports, Men's Hockey

MEN’S HOCKEY: Billett’s Impressive Play Between The Pipes Strengthened By BC’s Rejuvenated Offense

After multiple shots from Grayson Downing, Brian Billett was caught out. Screened by a University of New Hampshire Wildcat, he was temporarily blinded. A long-range blast from Trevor van Riemsdyk slipped through the Boston College defense, but the Eagles’ goaltender parried the puck wide with his padding. It was one of many impressive saves from Billett, who finished one save short from his career high of 40 in his team’s 6-2 victory over No.18 UNH.

“At first, they were just throwing shots at the net, I think, to feel me out,” Billett said. “Later in the game, once they saw that we were up by four or five goals, they were parking guys in front and hoping for screens and tips.”

Billett was busy throughout the night protecting BC’s lead, which they gained after 1:07. Bill Arnold split UNH’s two defenders with a chipped pass that was collected by Johnny Gaudreau. The Eagles’ talisman found himself one-on-one with Billett’s counterpart, Casey DeSmith. Gaudreau proceeded to cross up the UNH goaltender, finishing easily on his opponent’s right side.

“They got a breakaway,” UNH head coach Dick Umile said. “Look who got the breakaway. We let him get behind us. That’s not a good plan.”

Despite their slow start, the first period was not all bad news for Umile’s team. The Wildcats plundered Billett and the Eagles’ defense with 16 shots in the first period, though all of those efforts were saved by BC’s goaltender.

Offensively, the Eagles got off to a slow start due to a large amount of puck possession from the Wildcats. UNH’s control of the game pinned BC into its own zone and made it difficult for it to counter.

A quick start to the second period from the Wildcats made them look likely to threaten the Eagles, as a Jeff Silengo shot that came from just over the blue line beat Billett easily. The senior right-winger cut across the center of the ice from left to right before unleashing his equalizer into the net.

The pores in the Wildcats’ defense opened up later in the second period, though. BC reclaimed the lead less than one minute after Silengo’s goal through Steven Santini’s finish. The goal developed when a nifty backhanded pass from Austin Cangelosi found the on-skating Destry Straight. The junior centered the puck to Santini, who made no mistake from point blank range.

BC was excellent coming forward at the UNH defense with a swift attack, and Umile was displeased with his team’s play in BC’s four-goal second period.

The Eagles would counter throughout the period, but their attacks would prove fruitless until 15:06 when Gaudreau slotted the puck between the stick and legs of van Riemsdyk to find Cangelosi in front of the goal. The freshman chipped the puck over DeSmith’s shoulder, threading the slim margin between the goaltender’s mask and glove.

One minute later, Teddy Doherty notched his first goal of the season. The puck popped over the goal, when Doherty caught it and placed it down for an easy wrap-around finish.

Twelve seconds later, the Eagles’ second period demolition concluded with a Kevin Hayes wrist-shot that rooted DeSmith to his crease. Jeff Wyer replaced DeSmith after Hayes’ goal, which gave BC a 5-1 advantage heading into the final period of play.

Straight would score five minutes into the third to put BC ahead by five goals, one of which was pulled back by van Riemsdyk, who beat Billett from miles out at 6:50 in the third period.

UNH did well to combat the Eagles in the first and third periods, limiting the BC attack to just four shots in each passage of play. In fact, the Wildcats dominated the Eagles throughout the evening, outshooting them 41-21. BC was able to capitalize on its chances, though, and that made the difference.

“We had some chances and we didn’t miss many,” York said. “If we had a good chance, it was a red light, and I thought that was a real plus for us.”


December 9, 2013