Men's Hockey

Last Play of the Game Key to BC’s Win Over UNH

Last Play: With about 10 seconds left in the third and nursing a one-goal lead, Boston College defenseman Scott Savage skittered the puck up the left boards to Zach Sanford, who poked it out of the zone before potting the empty-netter from center ice. The band was playing and everything was all good … until it wasn’t. Savage’s defensive partner, Steve Santini, got called for roughing behind the play, and now BC had to nurse that lead again, a man down. The Eagles were also down their top center, Colin White, who left the game earlier in the period, so head coach Jerry York rode his hot hand and tapped White’s usual left wing, Ryan Fitzgerald, to take the game-deciding faceoff in the left corner of BC’s zone.

“He’s a left-hand shot, so he could win it to his backhand left side,” York said. “He had won a lot of faceoffs over the course of the night. He was taking them earlier in the night because [White] wasn’t taking them.”

Fitzgerald won the draw and got the puck back to defenseman Ian McCoshen, whose clearing attempt got stoned at the blue line. UNH had a decent chance at a desperation push that got blown up when Alex Tuch used all of his 6-foot-4 frame and even larger stick radius to break up the Wildcats’ attempt to reverse the puck to the weak side of the BC zone.

That sequence was made possible because, after Santini’s penalty, the officials had to reset the game clock from 8.3 to 10.0 seconds, and York, who was out of his timeouts, utilized that time to strategically deploy Fitzgerald’s faceoff prowess, McCoshen’s mammoth left-handed slap shot, and Tuch’s big body to get out to the right point. What goes into York’s trusted notebook, which never leaves his hand when he’s behind the bench, seems to ready him for the fog of war.

Goalies: UNH was in it until the final seconds because goaltender Danny Tirone stood on his head in the first period. BC fired 18 shots in the initial frame and didn’t get one past the 5 foot 11 sophomore, who drew praise from both coaches.

“The first ten minutes, they put some pressure on us, they moved the puck pretty good,” UNH coach Dick Umile said. “Tirone made some key saves in key times in the game.”

“He played very well,” York said of Tirone.

Though Demko let in three goals, he was in prime form again on Friday, turning away 35 shots, including fifteen in the final period. He made several sprawling saves, only matched by his counterpart in the other net.

“Thatcher was out of this world, as far as I’m concerned,” York said. “Dick was looking at some saves Thatcher made, I was clearly looking at some of the saves that Tirone made. He made some unbelievable saves. Two excellent goaltenders tonight.”

Power Plays: BC was 2-for-2 on the man advantage against Harvard in the Beanpot, and associate head coach and power play lieutenant Greg Brown’s unit carried that flow into Friday night’s game. Late in the first period, the Eagles had one of their best 5-on-4 stretches of the season. Because of UNH goalie Danny Tirone’s acrobatic routine, his sticky glove, and an uncharacteristic whiff by White on an open net, that stretch did not produce a goal. BC’s next power play finally solved Tirone. Austin Cangelosi deftly slid into the slot and redirected Savage’s point shot past Tirone before the Wildcat penalty kill was set up. Just like Brown drew it up.

Injuries: As York alluded to, White did not take faceoffs to start the game, and the freshman eventually had to leave the game with what York called a “wrist sprain.” The coach said that the team doesn’t know whether or not the injury will keep White out of Monday’s Beanpot final against Boston University. He was similarly noncommittal about the status of Miles Wood and Chris Calnan’s “lower body” injuries, which kept both out of Friday’s tilt.

Featured Image by Lucius Xuan / Heights Staff

February 6, 2016