Hockey, Men's Hockey

Eagles Blitz New Brunswick in Exhibition to Kick off 2018 Season

Coming into the 2018-19 season, expectations for Boston College men’s hockey were high, as always. The Eagles boasted the fourth-best recruiting class in the country, ranked top three in the country in returning goals and points, and returned 21 of the 26 players from last year’s roster. To increase the hype, BC was ranked No. 12 in the preseason USCHO poll and was picked as the preseason Hockey East champion ahead of Providence.    

An exhibition against New Brunswick was the perfect opportunity for the Eagles to work out the kinks and line pairings in a low-pressure environment. Certainly, BC wasn’t expected to be running on all cylinders. But Saturday night, BC looked every bit the team fans thought they could be. The Eagles scored two goals in the first 94 seconds and never looked back, taking a 4-0 lead into the first intermission and eventually beating the Varsity Reds 8-1.

It took just 19 seconds for Graham McPhee to open the scoring. The Eagles (1-0) sprung a breakaway, and Ron Greco picked out McPhee alone in front of net. The junior sent a one-time effort flying past New Brunswick (2-0) netminder Rylan Parenteau to give BC the perfect start to the season.

Just over a minute later, the Eagles doubled their lead, this time thanks to highly touted freshman Oliver Wahlstrom. The freshman, who was the 11th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, found some space on the left wing and showed exactly why he has been labeled as one of the best prospects in the country, flinging a heavy one-timer flying past Parenteau for a 2-0 lead. Having conceded two goals in under two minutes, Parenteau’s day came to an abrupt end, as the Varsity Reds substituted in Alex Dubeau.

Dubeau didn’t fare much better in net. Just five minutes after Wahlstrom’s goal, the Eagles’ second line, J.D. Dudek, Christopher Grando, and freshman Marc McLaughlin put together a pretty passing combination that ended with Grando slipping a low backhand shot past Dubeau to extend the Eagles’ lead. Wahlstrom then tallied his second goal of the night to finish off BC’s first-period scoring spurt on the power play off a feed from last year’s Hockey East Rookie of the Year, Logan Hutsko.

As the second period began, the Eagles carried over a power play from the first frame and converted once again. Julius Mattila’s shot was deflected out, and Aapeli Rӓsӓnen was ready to pounce, burying a rebound to put BC up, 5-0.

New Brunswick registered a consolation goal just minutes later on a power play of its own. After Adam Samuelsson, another of the Eagles’ promising freshmen, was sent off for tripping, Chris Clapperton slipped a shot past Ryan Edquist, who replaced Joseph Woll at the beginning of the second period. Woll, the Eagles’ presumed starter for the third-consecutive year, made eight saves in his 20 minutes of action.

But that was the lone Varsity Reds bright spot of the game. Christopher Brown opened his account for the 2018 season with just over 16 minutes gone in the second off a feed from Graham McPhee, then started the third period off with an unassisted goal for his second of the game.

Forty seconds after Brown’s second, David Cotton notched the Eagles’ eighth and final goal of the game. Later in the period, Ian Milosz, in net in relief of Edquist, pulled off the best save of the night, sprawling to his right to deny New Brunswick a second goal, and the Eagles finished out a dominant performance to start the season.

A poor performance in an exhibition match would have raised some concerns for BC, but an eight-goal explosion, combined with a 3-for-5 showing on the power play, is promising, no matter the quality of the opposition. BC fans will be hoping that the balanced attack the Eagles exhibited against the Varsity Reds will be on display all season. If it is, the Eagles should feel good about their chances to claim at least a share of a fourth-straight Hockey East title.

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / For The Heights

October 6, 2018