Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko was as good as ever on Thursday. He stopped 35 Notre Dame shots, including 11 combined from the Irish’s high-octane forwards Mario Lucia, Thomas Dipauli and Anders Bjork. Notre Dame’s two highest scorers, DiPauli and Bjork, spearheaded a line that peppered Demko with shots all night, and Lucia also got behind the BC defense a couple of times for prime looks at the net. Demko turned them all away, every time, and kept his team in a game that it got outshot in by 50 percent. The problem for Demko was that Notre Dame got off 39 shots on net, and the dam eventually broke for the Irish onslaught to overtake the Eagles 4-3. Still, three of the four pucks that Demko let get behind him were due to deflections or, as was the case on Dennis Gilbert’s game-winner, a screen from Demko’s teammate Ryan Fitzgerald, who turned away from Gilbert’s point bomb instead of either blocking the shot or giving his goaltender a clean look at it.
Notre Dame piled up that many shots because of its depth and physical style, especially against an undermanned Eagles squad. The three BC regular forwards that sat on Thursday—Chris Calnan, Miles Wood and Alex Tuch—are three of the team’s heaviest skaters, both in size and style of play. Without those bodies, BC had to play shorthanded and undersized against an Irish lineup that featured nine skaters over 200 pounds. BC iced just three lines, while sometimes rotating in Peter McMullen and bumping defenseman Teddy Doherty up to forward. That lineup had just four players listed at 200 or more pounds, and one of them was the sparsely-used McMullen. The fatigued and stunted Eagles couldn’t sustain much of a forecheck and lost a majority of battles for the puck, and thus lost the overall possession battle—especially in the game’s deciding stretch.
“We were playing our fourth line throughout the game and they scored a couple goals for us, so that gave us a little bit more of a wind, having guys a little fresher near end of the game,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said.
Though BC lost the possession battle, its first line of Matthew Gaudreau, Colin White, and Ryan Fitzgerald still had several quality scoring chances. In particular, Fitzgerald had a few unfettered looks from the slot that he couldn’t convert on, in large part due to Irish goaltender Cal Petersen. Petersen allowed Adam Gilmour to beat in on a straight-on wrister in the first, but was a wall after that, as BC’s latter two tallies came from backdoor tap-ins.
“They’ve got so much skill,” Jackson said “They break you down and then they get chances, so if you don’t have good goaltending in this league especially, you’re not gonna win. Not just good goaltending, but great goaltending. And he supplied that for us.”
The Big Ten Conference recently submitted a proposal to the NCAA that would knock down the maximum age for an incoming freshman from 21 to 20 years old College Hockey News’ Mike McMahon reported that BC is in favor of the proposal, and Jackson came out as supporter of it as well after Thursday’s game on behalf of Notre Dame.
LRT: From what I was told, BC, BU, UConn voted in favor in the straw poll. ND abstained. ADs voted, not coaches.
— Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonCHN) December 6, 2015
Jackson claimed to have spoken with several NHL general managers who disapprove about how old prospects are when they graduate from the college game. He noted that, although college ice hockey is unique in that it often has older players, Jackson finds it “unfortunate” that some of his freshman are older than his seniors.
“We’re in favor of it,” Jackson said. “I don’t like pushing guys back to make them older. I don’t like [Notre Dame’s current 20-year-old freshman] Andrew Oglevie going back to the USHL for two other years after he was originally supposed to come in, and we have to do it, because we can’t compete [if we don’t].”
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor