A win at Merrimack on Friday for the Boston College men’s hockey team couldn’t erase the sting of losing to Northeastern in the first round of the Beanpot, but a loss would’ve made it a lot worse.
An empty net goal from Adam Gilmour saved the Eagles from that latter fate, and BC (17-9-2, 10-5 Hockey East) left North Andover with a 4-2 victory over Merrimack (14-10-3, 5-8-2 Hockey East).
Head coach Jerry York switched up his forward lines in the wake of Tuesday’s defeat. The most notable of the moves was bumping up Matty Gaudreau to the right wing spot next to Destry Straight and Ryan Fitzgerald. The maneuver paid dividends in the first period, but not before Fitzgerald and Gaudreau collided at center ice just after puck drop. They got over any unfamiliarity quickly, as Fitzgerald drew a Merrimack penalty after receiving a nice drop pass from Gaudreau. 40 seconds into that power play, Alex Tuch redirected Ian McCoshen’s point shot to open the game’s scoring.
While York changed the first line, the top line of Tuch, Adam Gilmour and Zach Sanford didn’t need any tinkering, proving that when Tuch redirected another point shot, this time from Steve Santini, past Merrimack goaltender Rasmus Tirronen just a minute and a half after Tuch’s initial tally. Gilmour picked up the secondary assist, good for a team-leading 23 points on the season. That second goal, just over half a period into Friday’s tilt, matched the Eagles’ total offensive output when Merrimack visited BC back on Jan. 21.
The Eagles pushed the lead to three just over eight minutes into the second, again thanks to the new forward triumvirate. York slid Teddy Doherty from defense to offense and dropped Austin Cangelosi from the wing spot next to Straight to form a new fourth line along with mainstay Cam Spiro for Friday’s contest. After an offensive zone faceoff, Spiro won possession on the end boards and got the puck to Doherty behind the net, who fed Cangelosi for a point blank strike.
Down three at home, Warriors coach Mark Dennehy called a timeout to, per BC radio announcer Jon Rish, “read his team the riot act.” The move almost backfired before it worked. On the next shift, Sanford and Tuch missed chances from in close to put the Eagles up four. Tirronen turned away both looks, though, and Warriors’ forward Ben Bahe made Dennehy look smart when he beat Demko to make it 3-1 with 9:33 left.
Brett Seney then closed the lead to one with a five-on-three goal with a few minutes to go in the middle frame, a description that undersells the rare line brawl between the clubs that led to Seney’s score. Six players in total, Merrimack’s Braxton Bilous, Clayton Jardine, and Jared Kolquist, and BC’s Fitzgerald, Straight, and Ian McCoshen, were called for a combined 89 penalty minutes, including 10 minute misconducts on McCoshen, Jardine, Straight, and Kolquist. Somehow, the Warriors ended up with a power play out after the donnybrook, and Gilmour’s elbowing penalty following the fracas—which delayed the game upwards of 15 minutes—gave the Warriors the two man advantage that Seney took advantage of.
BC spent most of its final frame in their own end, as Merrimack gained entry into the Eagles zone and kept the puck there for extended stretches against the tired BC defense corps that went between four and five deep all night because of Doherty’s move to forward and McCoshen’s extended stay in the penalty box due to the line brawl. The Warriors forced York to burn his timeout with 4:49 left after BC iced the puck on two consecutive faceoffs. Merrimack couldn’t capitalize, though, and Gilmour iced the game just after Dennehy pulled Tirronen for an extra skater with two minutes remaining.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor