Men's Hockey

Despite Victory, Eagles Must Cut Down on Penalties

Despite substantial roster turnover from last season, Boston College men’s hockey is still taking too many penalties. This was BC’s glaring weakness last season, and though some of last year’s primary offenders departed for more lucrative pastures, the problem remains. The Eagles took nearly eight penalties per game through their first four contests and followed that up by committing 11 on Friday night.

Beginning with Ryan Fitzgerald and Colin White’s first shift, BC dominated possession at even strength. Yet the Eagles fell behind on the scoreboard and lost their momentum to an inferior Colorado College team thanks to back-to-back penalties during the first four minutes of the first period. The Tigers bailed out BC the rest of the game in part due to their subpar finishing abilities. Though they are not as talent-prone as BC, the Tigers were nearly as penalty-prone as their Friday-night host, as they took 10 of their own. Head coach Mike Haviland’s team squandered its opportunities to capitalize on BC’s mistakes, instead choosing to follow up its opponent’s errors with its own carelessness by twice hooking a BC player within the first 20 seconds of a power play.

BC head coach Jerry York has his own theory as to why his team’s games have been so special-teams laden this season.

“All of us are adjusting to the new NHL [-style] rules that are affecting the college game now, ” York said. “The standard of play is now, any time a stick is off the ice, it’s going to result in a hook, a hold, a slash. Once teams get used to it, the games will be quicker, it’ll be more enjoyable to watch. For now, it’ll be a lot of PKs and power plays for both teams.”

Even so, York’s team has had more penalties than its opponent in four of BC’s five games so far this season. York iced nine freshmen on Friday, and though those kids are still developing, being on the wrong side of that ledger will not be good in the long run. The penalty kill delivered against CC, but it won’t always go 8-for-9, and on most nights the other team will be much better than CC.

Despite the chippiness, the Eagles outclassed the Tigers. BC was leading during the whole second period and still doubled up CC’s shot attempt total in that frame. That will not usually work against most Hockey East foes with BC’s current group. Being on the penalty kill is obviously bad because players can get scored on more easily, but it also means that the best players aren’t attacking and scoring. The Eagles can’t let this glaring weakness get in the way of their clearest strength, which is Fitzgerald and White wreaking havoc in the other team’s zone.

Freshman goalie Ryan Edquist picked up his first win Friday. He played well, only allowing one goal, but had a lot of help from his fellow underclassmen. York played three freshmen and two sophomores on defense Saturday, and they all contributed to stifling the Tigers’ attack. With good speed on the backcheck and in their own zone, the Eagles’ defensemen didn’t let CC sustain much offensive zone time at even strength. When the Tigers did manage to get a cycle going, freshman forwards Graham McPhee and Zach Walker also aided their classmate in net by laying out and blocking some heavy slapshots.

“They’re playing well beyond [their years],” York said of his young defense corps.

One of those freshman defenseman, Jesper (pronounced Yes-per, as York was quick to point out) Mattila scored his first goal with a nasty snipe off the rush in the third period. Even better, his family, all the way from Finland, was at Conte Forum to see it.

Featured Image by Steve Ebert / Heights Staff

October 22, 2016