“Being aggressive is going after loose pucks, fighting along the boards, and being tough. Being aggressive is not taking dumb penalties.”
Dalen Hedges gathered the puck along the sideboards at TD Garden and whipped it across the ice to Kevin Roy. Roy baited goalie Thatcher Demko into diving across the crease, then flipped the puck towards the front of the net. Somehow the puck ended up on the stick of a wide-open Colton Saucerman. There was nothing between him and the twine—a guaranteed power play goal.
The horn buzzed, Northeastern celebrated, and the NU student section let out a raucous cheer. The tie had finally been broken, but it was only the first minute of the second period—plenty of hockey left.
Seconds later, the Huskies came knocking on the door once again. On the ensuing faceoff, a BC turnover led to a NU breakaway opportunity, during which captain Michael Matheson took a penalty to prevent the scoring chance.
Two minutes, tripping.
Two minutes—that’s what this game came down to. As an isolated incident, two minutes is not a long time to play hockey down a man.
But try to survive those two minutes six times, at some of the most crucial junctions of the game, and it becomes insurmountable. Boston College men’s hockey learned that the hard way on Monday night in the team’s 3-2 loss to Northeastern in the first round of the Beanpot.
The Eagles couldn’t stay out of the penalty box in the early going, and it cost them against NU. The Huskies went 2-for-6 on the power play and buried the Eagles with a late goal. The loss ended the Eagles’ streak of five consecutive Beanpot titles—one more would have tied the record for most consecutive championships with Boston University’s run of six straight at the end of the 1990s.
Following the game, BC head coach Jerry York praised the Huskies, but couldn’t shake his disappointment in the team’s lack of discipline.
“We took a lot of penalties,” York said. “It’s hard to overcome that because you’re playing a lot of the same players over and over again.”
Entering the game, BC was ranked 41st out of 59 Division I programs in average penalty minutes per game with just over 10. The Eagles took six penalties on the night against the Huskies for a total of 12 penalty minutes in just two periods.
Before the game got started, BC faced a big challenge. The first game between BU and Harvard University went to double overtime, pushing back BC’s start time nearly an hour and a half.
“It definitely played a role but at the end of the day both teams are in the same boat,” Matheson said. “We didn’t use that as an excuse by any means.”
The Eagles didn’t look slow at the start—they dominated pace of play against the Huskies in the first couple minutes. Despite a multitude of chances for both teams, there was no scoring in the first stanza.
The second period started with a bang, as Saucerman’s tally came only 21 seconds after the initial puck drop. Four minutes later, though, Ryan Fitzgerald took advantage of a nifty outlet from Austin Cangelosi and deked goaltender Clay Witt out of his shorts, but left the puck at the edge of the crease. Before Witt could cover, Destry Straight came barreling in and pounded the puck home to even the score. It was Straight’s seventh goal of the season.
Penalties came back to bite the Eagles once again halfway through the second, as point man John Stevens used a screen in front to sneak a wrist shot into the top corner of the net.
But it didn’t take long for the Huskies to start showing cracks in their defense. Following yet another Eagles penalty, forward Chris Calnan had a shorthanded breakaway chance, but couldn’t get a shot off. The puck slid down into the Eagles end, but bounced back onto the stick of Fitzgerald, who got another open chance of his own. This time, he glided straight in, using his body to shield the NU defenseman, and flipped the puck with ease over Witt’s glove hand to even the score.
For 20 minutes, the score remained that way. But as time was expiring on the third period, self-diagnosed poor shooter Dustin Darou was given a bit of extra space from forwards Adam Gilmour and Calnan, and he took advantage of it. He let a soft wrist shot fly from the point, and it miraculously avoided every body in front on its way over Demko’s glove.
With that, BC’s title hopes were dashed. There will be no celebration next Monday. There will, however, be a consolation game against a team that is ranked far higher than Northeastern, a team that dominated BC already this season. And if the Eagles start taking the same unnecessary penalties against the Crimson, they’ll be in trouble.
After BC’s win against Providence this past weekend, York lauded his team’s smart, calculated aggressiveness. Against the Huskies, that same aggressiveness turned into blind belligerence, and ultimately caused BC’s demise.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor