Top Story, Men's Hockey

Fitzgerald’s Game-Winner Lifts Men’s Hockey Over Providence in Overtime

Boston College men’s hockey earned its first victory of the season against Providence, a Hockey East foe, on Sunday afternoon—and it was anything but easy. But in the end, heroics from netminder Joe Woll and captain Casey Fitzgerald secured a 4-3 overtime win for the No. 13 Eagles.

The Eagles (1-1-1, 1-0 Hockey East) found themselves playing catch-up for most of the game, as the No. 5 Friars(2-1, 0-1)  jumped out to an early lead. Several minutes into the second period, BC found itself staring at a 3-0 deficit and momentum entirely on the Friars’ side at Schneider Arena. But the Eagles refused to quit, and timely goals from Chris Grando, Fitzgerald, and Graham McPhee sent the game into overtime. Fitzgerald would play the hero once again in overtime, as he sent the puck past Providence netminder Hayden Hawkey for the game-winning goal, sealing the come-from-behind victory for the Eagles.

BC managed to create several chances early in the first period, but the Friars’ luck held out. Michael Kim recorded two early shots, but one was blocked and one was saved by Hawkey. Grando and JD Dudek each recorded shots wide of the twine. Meanwhile, Providence continued to apply pressure on the other end of the ice, testing Woll early. The pressure paid off seven minutes into the first period.

Jason O’Neill secured possession of the puck off of a faceoff, and immediately slotted a pass back to Shane Kavanagh. Kavanagh ripped a shot through traffic into the top right corner of the net for the first goal of the game. Just like that, the Eagles faced an early deficit—and it got worse before it could get better.

One minute into the second period, PC cushioned its lead with another goal on Woll—the Friars’ second goal of the game from deep and through traffic. Kavanagh recorded a shot that sailed over the net, and his teammate Spenser Young secured the rebound. Young rocketed the puck toward the net, and it snuck through traffic and past Woll into the back of the net.

Minutes after Young scored to put Providence up 2-0, Brendan Duhaime capitalized off of a rebound to give the Friars a 3-0 lead. Vincent Desharnais ripped a shot on Woll, who blocked it but could not secure the puck. The puck dropped onto the ice right in front of Duhaime, who quickly buried it into the twine to boost PC’s lead once again.

Even after they surrendered three relatively quick goals, the Eagles refused to quit. BC applied pressure to Hawkey and the Friars’ defense, creating opportunities even when its first or second attempts failed. This pressure paid off in the end, as BC scored two quick goals in three minutes to turn the tide of the game entirely.

Grando managed to score first for the Eagles. Logan Hutsko flicked a shot on Hawkey, who blocked the puck but could not secure it. The puck slid right in front of Grando, and Hawkey was out of position on the opposite pole. Grando knocked it into the net with ease to cut into PC’s lead and get the Eagles onto the scoreboard.

Fitzgerald’s first goal came minutes later. Luke McInnis, on the right side of the ice, slotted a pass across the ice to Fitzgerald, who faced a clear path to Hawkey. Fitzgerald managed to beat Hawkey on the near side, sending the puck into the top left corner of the goal and cutting the Friars’ lead to just one.

From there, with the Friars clinging to a one-goal lead, Woll came up huge. He made several saves down the stretch that kept BC in it, constantly denying his conference counterparts and anchoring the Eagles’ defense. In the end, Woll recorded 31 saves, with many of them coming during crucial moments in the second and third periods.

Even as Woll made save after save to keep his team in it, McPhee found himself in the perfect position to net an equalizer. Jacob Tortora sent the puck toward the goal, and McPhee skated in to rip a shot off. He flicked the puck past Hawkey into the top right corner of the goal to tie the game at three apiece.

The Eagles and the Friars both failed to score a game-winner during regulation, sending the game into overtime. But once it went to overtime, it didn’t take long for Fitzgerald to beat Hawkey one more time and send his team to victory. With the Eagles rushing the net and pressure on the Friars’ defense, Fitzgerald handled the puck smoothly and calmly. He gathered in a pass and ripped a shot off, beating Hawkey top shelf for the game-winner.

It certainly didn’t start well, but the Eagles’ first win of the season ended just how they wanted. It was BC’s first overtime win since March 2016, and the first three-goal comeback victory since March 2012. Head coach Jerry York was thrilled with his team’s effort after the game.

“To come back from that deficit speaks volumes for my feelings about this particular team,” he said. “These type of games can go either way… I’m very excited about the way our team played, especially coming off the loss and down 3-0 in the game.”

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

October 15, 2017

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