Sports, Hockey, Men's Hockey

Notebook: A 3-1 Lead is Never Enough

Two goals within 70 seconds of each other decided the fate of the first round of the Beanpot for Boston College men’s hockey. Unfortunately for the Eagles, both of those goals belonged to their crosstown rivals. Here’s how the Eagles led through the first two periods before three final-frame goals by the Terriers gave way to a double-overtime win for BU:

On Two Wings and a Prayer

Despite the loss, BC showed some impressive speed and skill on the wings through Logan Hutsko and David Cotton. All parts of the Eagles’ offense ran through the two first-line stalwarts, particularly Hutsko’s speed with the puck and Cotton’s playmaking. Though Hutsko couldn’t capitalize on his nine shots, his one assist set up Cotton’s first goal. Hutsko’s speed up the ice created plenty of breakaway opportunities for the Eagles, though BU goaltender Ashton Abel consistently got in front to rob the Eagles of goal after goal. Cotton on the other hand scored two goals on six shots, all of which were on frame. His first goal brought the Eagles to a two-point lead, and his late 6-on-4 goal sent the Eagles to overtime and kept them in the game for the time being. 

Golden Goal(ies)

The only thing keeping the game from being a blowout for either side was the talent in both nets—the two freshman goaltenders, Abel for BU and Spencer Knight for BC, came to play, each recording saves in the double digits. Abel had 35 and allowed four goals while Knight recorded 27 saves and five goals. 

Knight robbed BU of lots of near-certain goals, including a one-on-one, point-blank shot early in the first period of OT. His mobility in the net was like poetry in motion as he moved seamlessly from side to side while BU attackers sped around the back of the net and looked for hook-in goals from the back. It’s no wonder that Knight earned Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week last week, as his consistency in goal has been the shining star of the Eagles’ impressive 2019-20 campaign. 

Abel, on the other hand, started out slowly but settled down in the second period and held BC to two goals over the final two periods. After Patrick Giles’ goal just a few minutes into the game, Abel looked shaken up, leading to another quick goal for the Eagles. But after the first intermission, he came out of the locker room with a newfound confidence and dove in front of shot after shot to give the Terriers a chance. Abel, a mid-season transfer, wasn’t on the Terriers’ roster six weeks ago, but his impressive play in goal gave BU the opportunity to come back from a two-point deficit. As the saying goes, defense wins championships. 

BU’s Go-Tos

The Terriers’ usual stars—Patrick Curry, Patric Harper, and Trevor Zegras, for example— weren’t out in full force for the whole game on Monday night, but their teammates took over the duty on offense after Curry opened with the first goal. BU recorded plenty of shots, but the Terriers’ offense failed to score for 20 minutes after Curry’s first strike, and it seemed as though BU’s go-to guys had taken on a smaller role than usual. But Curry and Harper combined on the assists for David Farrance’s goal, and the floodgates suddenly opened. Then, Harper scored on an assist from Farrance, and Zegras and Harper combined to assist Robert Mastrosimone’s lead-taking goal. After a slow period for BU’s regulars, the score had finally opened up for the Terriers. 

Feeding off Fans’ Energy

The BC faithful arrived at Conte Forum in hordes, so energy was in no short supply. Jerry York reported in a press conference that the BC box office sold the most tickets for a Beanpot game in recent memory. From the puck drop, both teams’ fans passed chants back and forth, and the rivaling bands battled it out for the entire game. The energy from BC’s student section replicated that of home-ice advantage for BC, and the players seemed to feed off the crowd’s enthusiasm. This support is a departure from previous years, as the BC side of TD Garden has been historically quiet

Keeping Composure 

It’s a common theme in sports that getting comfortable with a 3-1 lead is the biggest mistake a team can make. The 2016 Golden State Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals after leading the series 3-1. Then, history repeated itself when the Cleveland Indians blew a 3-1 lead in the World Series to the Chicago Cubs that same year. And now, after losing its composure in the final seven and a half minutes of regulation, BC has joined one of the least desirable categories in sports. David Farrance and Patrick Harper’s two goals in quick succession tied up the game after BC had been leading 3-1, and the Eagles looked frantic on defense.

But when the Eagles found themselves down by one with a little over a minute to go in the game, BC suddenly regained its offensive footing. A power play and an empty net for the Eagles gave BC a 6-on-4 opportunity, and an Eagles’ offense that had been quiet for nearly 20 minutes was firing on all cylinders. David Cotton notched his second goal of the night in the waning minutes of regulation, and the game headed to OT. The Eagles looked solid through the first five-minute extra time period, but they fell apart once again in the final period. BU had five shots on goal in quick succession before Wilmer Skoog notched the game-winning goal for the Terriers. 

Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Editor

February 4, 2020