With just over one minute to go in 3-on-3 overtime, Boston College men’s hockey incurred a penalty for having too many men on the ice, sending New Hampshire—which had scored the shorthanded equalizer with just minutes left in regulation—to the power play. The Wildcats had already proven their talents in both shorthanded and power play situations, and as they dominated the offensive zone, a goal was close at hand.
With only 35 seconds left in the period and a man advantage, Kalle Eriksson netted the game-winning goal for the Wildcats (3-3-1), handing No. 2 BC (5-2) a 4-3 loss in its first game of 2021.
Throughout the early parts of this season, BC has consistently been shorthanded due to the IIHF World Junior Tournament in Alberta, Canada this winter. Alex Newhook missed the first six games of the season while lacing up for Team Canada, and Matt Boldy, Drew Helleson, and Spencer Knight each missed two games while training for Team USA.
On Tuesday night, the tournament came to a thrilling end with a 2-0 victory for Team USA over Canada in the gold medal game. Newhook and Boldy were each point-per-game players for their respective countries, and Helleson was credited with an assist on the game-winning goal in the championship. With the culmination of the tournament, the Eagles resumed their season nearly at full strength against UNH.
The Eagles’ lineup challenges continued into the new year, however, with star winger Logan Hutsko missing Friday’s game due to an ankle injury. Head coach Jerry York said that he believes Hutsko’s injury will certainly keep him out for a few games. Adding to that, Knight needed a few more days to get his feet settled before jumping back into action, so Henry Wilder got the start in net.
In their first game since Dec. 12—a 3-1 loss to UConn—the Eagles found themselves on the penalty kill twice early on in the first period. As they have been doing well all season—the Eagles had a penalty kill percentage of 92.3 percent entering Friday’s game—the Eagles shut down both of the Wildcats’ early power plays. BC then got a power play of its own, and despite key chances from Newhook and captain Marc McLaughlin, the score remained unchanged at 0-0.
UNH struck first midway through the period on a goal by Kohei Sato, who wristed a shot from far out that beat Wilder.
Just about five minutes after the opening goal, the Eagles found themselves with a man advantage for the second time. On a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play, freshman Colby Ambrosio received the puck in the crease and beat UNH goaltender Mike Robinson to level the score. Newhook and Boldy, each credited with an assist on the goal, wasted no time getting on the score sheet in their first game back.
On the ensuing faceoff, the puck found UNH forward Eric MacAdams all alone in front of Wilder’s net. He deked out the goaltender and slotted it home to take the lead right back for the Wildcats just nine seconds after the Eagles’ goal. The score remained at 2-1 in favor of UNH through the end of the first period.
The Eagles didn’t tie up the game again until late in the second period. Off of a cross-ice pass from Helleson, freshman forward Nikita Nesterenko ripped a far post shot past Robinson to level the score at two apiece. With Helleson’s assist, each of the players returning from the World Juniors were on the score sheet before the second intermission.
With the goal, momentum swung in BC’s direction going into the third period, and BC took its first lead of the game early in the frame. Defenseman Eamon Powell put a shot on net, and the rebound fell right to Patrick Giles, who slotted it home for his first goal of the season.
The Eagles appeared to be in the driver’s seat of the game from then on, creating many chances to score a fourth goal to double their lead. Soon enough, BC earned another power play and the chance to extend their lead to two.
“We had the puck in the zone an awful lot, and we just couldn’t quite dent the net there,” York said. “We had good puck possession and made some good plays. It looked like we were going to get that fourth goal. Clearly, on the power play, not being able to score, but also giving up a goal there was a bad turning point for us in the game.”
Instead, it was the Wildcats who turned a shorthanded situation into a scoring opportunity. Filip Engarås finished off a 2-on-1 situation in the back of the net to once again even up the score for the Wildcats. The game remained tied up at three at the end of regulation, sending the Eagles to their second overtime game in their last three contests.
“I thought it was a pretty good hockey game,” York said. “We’ve been off for a month or so, but as the game went on, I thought we got better and better. We’ve got a day tomorrow to look at film and get ready and back up to New Hampshire to play.”
Featured Image by Kati Devir / For The Heights