No. 5 men’s hockey travelled to the Mile-High City this weekend, looking to give Jerry York his 500th win as Boston College’s head coach during a two-game series against No. 11 Denver.
After falling behind by a goal in Friday night’s tilt, BC recovered. Sophomore Ryan Fitzgerald scored the equalizer in the second and then netted the go-ahead goal late in the third period to give York his 500th W in exciting fashion. College hockey’s winningest coach must wait for No. 501, as Denver split the series with an overtime win on Saturday night.
York, who became BC’s coach on the same day as the premiere of The Lion King (June 15, 1994), has now coached 812 total games for the Eagles. This works out to an impressive winning percentage of 61.6 percent. During his 20-year tenure, BC has made 11 Frozen Fours and has won four national championships, missing the postseason only twice since ’97.
While Fitzgerald led the offensive effort, goaltender Thatcher Demko also played well between the pipes on Friday. The sophomore had 25 saves on the night, including several huge stops on a 5-on-3 in the second period.
After BC took a holding call and a high sticking call consecutively, Denver had nearly 30 seconds of two-man advantage, but failed to break through BC’s defense to end the 1-1 deadlock. The Eagles had a strong penalty kill the entire night, forcing the Pioneers to go 0-6 on power play opportunities.
BC took advantage of a strong kill to sink the deciding goal on the night. As Zach Sanford exited the box from a holding the stick infraction, he picked up the puck on a clear from Quinn Smith. Sanford moved behind the net with the puck, waiting and eventually hitting a streaking Fitzgerald down the middle. The second-year forward launched the puck home to give BC the final 2-1 win.
Saturday night, however, saw no such comeback for the Eagles. Denver got on the board first again, flashing the red light just 21 seconds into the second period. Denver’s Trevor Moore skated up through the middle of BC’s zone and found Danton Heinen for the one-timer past Demko.
BC faced a 0-1 deficit for over 12 minutes before finally getting on the scoreboard. Sophomore Travis Jeke picked up his first assist of the season, firing toward a small crowd in front of the net. Senior Destry Straight stepped up and deflected the puck at just the right angle, sending it to the upper-left corner of the net.
Demko, meanwhile, outdid his own performance from Friday night, tallying 30 saves in the first three periods. This defensive effort included turning away nine shots on another six power play opportunities for the Pioneers, who failed to score a single power play goal over the weekend.
BC also struggled to convert on its power play opportunities Saturday night. While the team had eight different chances, the Eagles only fired seven shots. On their final two power plays of the night, each two minutes, the skaters did not even manage a single shot.
Although neither team managed to net a power play goal during their last meeting in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year, BC set a tone much earlier in that game than in either of the games this past weekend. BC’s Johnny Gaudreau put his team on top just 25 seconds into that game back in March, leading the Eagles to roll 6-2 over the Pioneers.
On Saturday night, however, the third period ended with Denver and BC knotted 1-1. Each goalie had three saves in the period, as BC struggled to complete its second comeback win in as many days. Around four minutes into bonus hockey, the puck ricocheted off a crowd in front of BC’s net. Heinen was the only one to find the puck in the scramble, slipping it into the net to pick up the victory for Denver. This win brought Denver to 4-2 on the season, while simultaneously dropping BC down to the same 4-2 record.
Up next for the Eagles will be a contest at UConn on Wednesday night before the team returns home for its first game of the year against Boston University.
Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff