Top Story, Men's Hockey

Eagles Snap Three-Game Winless Streak Against New Hampshire

After needing a bit more than 14 minutes in the opening period of play to break Sunday afternoon’s scoreless tie against New Hampshire, Boston College men’s hockey got back on the board just 71 seconds into the second frame.

Since the Wildcats’ Anthony Wyse was called for hooking at very end of the first period, the Eagles came out of the break with a one-man advantage, and, for just the 15th time this season, BC cashed in on the power play. Positioned a few feet in front of the blue line, Michael Kim slid the puck to Logan Hutsko who bordered the left half of the goal line. As soon as the pass hit the freshman’s stick, he connected with David Cotton on the edge of the left circle. From there, the Parker, Texas native wristed a shot past UNH goaltender Danny Tirone.

The sequence was the first of the Eagles’ three second-period scoring plays—more than enough to distance themselves from the Wildcats. BC tacked on one more goal in the final frame, en route to a 5-2 victory, snapping its three-game winless streak.

Neither team had much luck offensively for the majority of the first period, despite the fact that they combined for eight penalties. Eventually, the No. 13 Eagles (11-9-3, 11-4-0 Hockey East) came through on the power play—the UNH (9-11-2, 4-7-1) power play that is. Down a man around the 14-minute mark, BC pressured the Wildcats in their own zone. Christopher Grando led the charge, jarring the puck loose near the boards. At full-speed, Graham McPhee scooped it up and sprinted toward the cage. The sophomore switched to his backhand and beat Tirone on the far post, logging the Eagles’ fourth shorthanded goal of the year.

About four minutes later, UNH redeemed itself on special teams. Thanks to a late Jacob Tortora boarding penalty, the Wildcats were back on the power play for the third time of the day. It wasn’t long before Max Gildon whipped a shot on BC netminder Joseph Woll. The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect made the stop, but UNH’s Michael McNicholas corralled the rebound at the bottom of the left circle. Surveying the ice, the senior zipped a pass through the Eagles’ zone to Benton Maass. Drifting backward, the defenseman ripped a shot over the left shoulder of Woll to knot the game up at a goal apiece.

Although head coach Dick Umile’s team held its own against BC throughout the first period—a group that, entering the weekend, had bested the Wildcats in the opponents’ previous six meetings—UNH quickly fell apart over the course of the ensuing 20 minutes.

Cotton reclaimed the Eagles’ lead with a power-play goal to jumpstart their scoring spree. J.D. Dudek was the next to light the lamp. Grando pushed the puck into Wildcats territory and dumped it off to Casey Carreau. Hovering around the bottom of the left circle, the freshman found a wide-open Dudek across the ice. The junior held the puck, waiting for Tirone to pick his side, and as soon as the UNH goalie sprawled out, Dudek fired a shot over his head and into the back of the net.

McPhee almost scored his second shorthanded goal of the game about five minutes later. Following a Wildcats turnover at center ice, McPhee dashed toward the net with only Tirone to beat, but, in the process, overskated the puck. Luckily for the sophomore, it would be only be a matter of minutes before he got another chance to notch a career-best second goal. Surrounded by a pair of UNH defenders, Michael Kim was jammed up behind the Wildcats’ cage. He maintained possession and chipped the puck out to the high slot for a charging McPhee, who went near-side for BC’s fourth goal of the game.

As bad as the period was for UNH, the Wildcats didn’t come up empty. In the frame’s waning minutes, McNicholas drew a faceoff to Wyse. From the blue line, the sophomore lasered the puck through the Eagles’ zone, only to deflect off Marcus Vela and perhaps BC’s Connor Moore. Ara Nazarian was in the right place at the right time. The forward collected the puck and put one past Woll to make it a two-goal game.

Yet the Eagles didn’t let up in the final frame. In fact, they ramped up the defensive intensity, limiting the Wildcats to a mere six shots and shutting down their only power play of the period. After flirting with a goal a couple minutes in, Tortora finally ended his scoring drought toward the tail end of the game. Dudek won a faceoff, tracked down the puck, and relayed it to Grando down the right side of the ice. When the freshman reached the bottom of the right circle, he flung a pass to his classmate, Tortora, who was streaking down the left wing. It appeared as if Tirone didn’t even know he was there. Tortora one-timed the pass for his first goal since Nov. 18, adding insult to UNH’s injury.

The victory marked the first time BC has scored five or more goals in over two months. But the Eagles were far from perfect against a team that they have routinely owned throughout the decade. It was the mental errors that bothered head coach Jerry York the most.

“We’re still working on keeping our penalties down,” York said, per BC Athletics. “We only took one in the second and one in the third, but still, six is too many for us.”

BC will have over a week and a half to work out its kinks before it resumes play. For the moment, the Eagles are back on top of Hockey East.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

January 14, 2018