Boston College men’s hockey was trailing in a shootout. Both Robbie Payne and Darien Craighead had scored for Northern Michigan, while BC’s J.D. Dudek was stopped at the net. Logan Hutsko had to score to keep the Eagles’ chances alive. His attempt was gloved by Atte Tolvanen, and BC lost the shootout, though it wouldn’t matter in the record books. The shootout, like the 3-on-3 overtime period that preceded it, was just an exhibition that did not count toward the final score. Instead, the Eagles wrapped up the consolation game of the Ice Vegas Invitational with a 3-3 tie against Northern Michigan.
No. 13 BC (10-8-3, 10-3-0 Hockey East) tried to control the pace early, creating a flurry of chances that either just missed the net or struck the posts, but it was the Wildcats (11-10-3, 9-5-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) who would strike first when Philip Beaulieu picked up a loose puck behind the BC cage. He flicked it out in front to Rylan Yaremko, who then fired a low shot past goaltender Ryan Edquist to put Northern Michigan up, 1-0, a little more than six minutes into the game. The early goal was not enough to swing momentum for the Wildcats, as both teams continued to trade chances throughout the middle of the period. Halfway through the frame, Robert Fosdick was called for hooking, giving the Eagles a chance to even the game on the power play. Although BC was pressing, the Wildcats managed to prevent most of its shots from reaching Tolvanen.
Shortly after their power play ended, the Eagles were forced to kill a penalty of their own when they were called for having too many men on the ice. Connor Moore was also given a penalty for tripping only four seconds after the first penalty ended. Fortunately for the Eagles, their killers were up to the task, allowing only three shots on net during the two penalties. Edquist, in his third-consecutive start, shut the door to keep the deficit at just one as the first period came to a close.
BC was in penalty trouble once again early in the second period when Moore was sent to the box for hooking. Seconds into the penalty, Graham McPhee flung the puck to a wide-open Christopher Brown, who fired it over Tolvanen on the break, tying the game with a short-handed goal. The draw was short-lived: Less than two minutes later, Beaulieu fed the puck to Troy Loggins for a one-timer that gave Northern Michigan the lead as the penalty expired.
The Eagles were soon given another chance on the power play to equalize the game. Yet BC failed to create sustainable pressure. It wasn’t long before the Eagles were back on the power play, but, per usual, BC—a team that ranks 44th among NCAA teams in power-play conversions—came up empty on the special teams opportunity, only whipping one shot on net. Then, it was Northern Michigan’s turn to experience power-play frustration, as the Eagles’ penalty kill limited the Wildcats to just one shot on their own one-man advantage. With the second period winding down, BC upped the ante on offense, forcing Tolvanen to make four saves in the waning minutes. The Eagles finally broke through when Julius Mattila took a pass from McPhee, skated inside, and slipped the puck by Tolvanen, tying the game with only 32 seconds left in the frame.
In the final period, BC was gifted an early power-play opportunity when James Vermeulen was called for tripping. The Eagles created more pressure, but still failed to find the back of the net. Following the penalty, both teams traded chances that were blocked before reaching the cage. BC finally figured out how to break the stalemate when Mattila sent the puck from behind the net to David Cotton out in front. The sophomore tipped the puck just past Tolvanen, giving BC its first lead of the night and the tournament. Mattila, who leads the team in scoring, extended his current points streak to nine games. And Cotton now has points in his last five.
The Eagles continued pressuring Tolvanen to maintain their lead, but momentum shifted when McPhee was sent to the box for interference. Northern Michigan controlled the puck on the power play, and this time it was Loggins who fed Beaulieu for a one-timer goal to tie the game, a little more than halfway through the third. As the clock ticked, both teams failed to produce scoring chances, and BC floundered on another power play, its fifth of the night.
With the game tied after three periods, the teams entered the first overtime frame—the only one that had implications on the final outcome. The Eagles came out buzzing, preventing the Wildcats from generating any chances. Halfway through the five-minute overtime period, BC got its final power play of the game. While it created more shots on net, it still couldn’t get any past Tolvanen. The frame ended in a tie, though the Eagles outshot the Wildcats, 4-0. An ensuing 3-on-3 exhibition period failed to produce a winner, and while the Wildcats won the subsequent shootout, the final result was nothing more than a tie.
The Eagles, who were looking to start the New Year with a couple of wins in this tournament instead walked away with a tie in the consolation game. Despite the result, BC put in a respectable offensive performance, outshooting the Wildcats in every period except the first and finishing with 36 shots to Northern Michigan’s 26. Still, the Eagles will need to work on capitalizing on scoring opportunities—especially on the power play—if they want to continue their dominance in Hockey East play next week against Providence and New Hampshire.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor