When Boston College men’s hockey jumped out to a two-goal lead against No. 7 Providence in Saturday night’s matchup, an uneasy feeling crept into the minds of Eagles fans. Just one night prior, in the first game of the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series, seventh-seeded BC squandered a 3-1 lead and fell to the second-seeded Friars in overtime. It was a heartbreaking loss—and one that the Eagles could not afford. To keep its season alive, BC would have to win two straight games at Schneider Arena.
As it happened, Saturday’s contest closely mirrored Game One. The Eagles blew their two-goal lead, allowing the Friars to score three unanswered goals to pull ahead. But, in the waning minutes of the third period, BC tied the game to force overtime. The extra frame did not last long, and this time, the Eagles came out on the winning side, thanks to a beautiful goal by Logan Hutsko, pushing the series to a third day with a 4-3 win.
In the first game of the series, there was immediate action, as four goals were scored within the first eight minutes of regulation. But on Saturday, the pace of play was a bit slower. The Eagles (12-21-3, 10-11-3 Hockey East) and Friars (22-10-6, 14-7-3) each traded shots on net in the opening minutes, and it was BC that ultimately struck first. Eight minutes into the contest, J.D. Dudek etched his name into the scoreboard, as he whipped a shot past Providence netminder Hayden Hawkey.
From there, the Eagles continued to apply pressure, and it paid off one minute after their first scoring play. David Cotton notched his 21st goal of the year—a mark that leads the Hockey East—to give the Eagles a two-goal edge. For the rest of the period, neither team found the back of the net. The Friars were gifted with a power-play opportunity, but the Eagles killed the penalty, the first of three times that they succeeded on the penalty kill.
To start the second frame, BC fended off another Providence power play. It wasn’t long before the Friars finally scored, though. Five minutes in, Jack Dugan won a face off against Julius Mattila and found an open Josh Wilkins, who beat Eagles goaltender Joseph Woll to put Providence on the board. Soon after, Spenser Young was called for tripping, giving BC its first power play of the night, but the Eagles couldn’t capitalize. Freshman Oliver Wahlstrom fired off five shots, none of which found the back of the net.
The Eagles then killed another power play, but the Friars quickly knotted the contest at even strength. Wilkins—assisted by Dugan and Kasper Bjorkqvist—once again provided the score. With the game tied and Providence possessing all of the momentum, it looked like BC was headed for another disappointing loss—one that would end an even more dismal season. The Friars continued to pelt Woll, and they broke through in the beginning of the third period, with Bjorkqvist scoring this time.
With the season on the line, the Eagles buckled down and found some long-lost offense. Woll continued to withstand a barrage of Providence shots, and BC finally received a quality opportunity when Michael Callahan was whistled off the ice for interference. With less than 20 seconds remaining on the power play, Marc McLaughlin launched a one-timer off a feed from Hutsko, beating Hawkey and tying the game. During the final five minutes of regulation, both teams traded shots on goal, but neither could convert, setting up overtime for the second straight night.
At the start of the extra period, BC blocked two shots. After Michael Kim deflected the second shot, he sent the puck up the ice. Hutsko turned on the jets and gained possession. Jacob Bryson trailed him and tried to break up the shot, but Hutsko overpowered him. Hutsko—who came into this contest having not scored a goal in 19 games—beat Hawkey with the wrister, propelling the Eagles to a thrilling victory and a winner-take-all game on Sunday.
If it wasn’t for Hutsko’s heroics—as well as a strong team effort—the Eagles’ season would have already been over. Instead, they live to fight another day and can book a trip to the Hockey East semifinals with a win against the Friars in Game Three. This entire season has been one massive step backward as the Eagles, despite boasting some of the most talented NHL prospects in the country, simply struggled to find offense and close out victories. A loss to the Friars in Game Three would only cement this year as one of the most disappointing in recent memory. But a win—alongside a deeper postseason run—would allow BC to finish the season on a much higher note.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Senior Staff