Sports, Men's Hockey

Power Play Defense Leads BC Over Gillies, Providence

Jon Gillies: Noah Hanifin’s early third period goal would have been a knockout blow to Providence College if the Friars had a different goaltender in net. Star backstop Jon Gillies entered Friday night with the best save percentage and goals against average in Hockey East and played better than those numbers.

At the end of the second period, Gillies robbed Hanifin twice on two separate two-on-ones and then gloved Destry Straight’s shot from the deep slot, before stoning Zach Sanford and Alex Tuch on the same rush from point blank range at the beginning of the third. Gillies’ teammates let Hanifin, a likely top- five NHL draft pick, stroll in unimpeded to put the Friars down two scores. Providence, however, was able to tie the game up shortly thereafter because Gillies saved their bacon so many times before.

“The early flurry in the third period, Gillies just stoned us,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “I thought there were two or three opportunities to break the game open.”

That stretch was indicative of how the Gillies performed all game. The Calgary Flames’ prospect turned away 33 of the Eagles’ 36 shots, with the three goals coming off the sticks of some of Boston College’s most talented offensive players. Besides Hanifin’s goal, Sanford buried a rebound that Providence coach Nate Leaman said was the result of “five [Providence] guys watching the puck,” and Tuch beat Gillies with an NHL-caliber missile from the slot.

By flashing his leather and gloving most of BC’s shots, Gillies prevented second chances for the Eagles—a critical feat for this BC team. Gillies played like he knew his team had little margin for error and he was right, giving up one rebound too many, one that turned into Sanford’s game winner in the 3-2 Eagles’ victory.

Special Teams: With BC controlling the run of play at even strength for most of the night, the Friars needed some contributions from their special team units. They didn’t get any. Each side had five man-advantages, and Providence mustered just two power play shots on goal. BC didn’t convert on any of its nine shots on net while in the power play, but it kept the pressure on Gillies and the Friars’ defense.

“Our power play looked better tonight,” York said. “Our special teams were important for us. Our PK was excellent.”

“Their power play really had the better of us, and our power play really struggled against their kill,” Leaman said. “I thought that was the story of the game a little bit. If you’re gonna win on the road, you gotta win those specialty teams.”

Leaman also said that BC’s aggressiveness and compete level prevented his team from getting a lot of clean looks at the Eagles’ net while on the man advantage.

“I thought they jumped us, and I thought they were winning the battles, particularly low in their zone,” Leaman said. “On faceoffs, in the low battles, I thought they did a good job.”

York Glove To The Face: In the second period, Austin Cangelosi lost his glove while battling for the puck in his own corner. While he cleared the puck and skated off to the bench without his right mitt, captain Mike Matheson acted out his title and retrieved his teammates’ glove. When he tossed it into the BC bench area, though, he probably wished he wasn’t so altruistic, because he blindsided his head coach in the face with an unexpected projectile.

“Took it face on, yeah,” York said, laughing. “I’m thinking ‘where’s the puck?’ I thought it was on the other end of the ice…but we’re good.”

Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor

January 31, 2015

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