Sports, Hockey, Men's Hockey

Knight Stars In Narrow Victory Over Merrimack

With 10 minutes left in the third period and No. 3 Boston College men’s hockey up by one, officials whistled Trevor Kuntar for goaltender interference and player misconduct—a five minute major penalty, giving Merrimack an opportunity to even the score at two. The Eagles (7-2) had maintained control for the first half of the game, but the Warrior offense began to pick up after an early third-period goal brought the score within one, allowing the underdogs a glimmer of hope.

Things were not looking up for the shorthanded Eagle squad as the Merrimack offense started to heat up. The Warriors (1-6) put pressure on BC goaltender Spencer Knight, peppering him with shots, but Knight stood his ground and came up with seven saves in that span. As the game neared an end with BC still ahead, Merrimack pulled its goaltender, but BC staved off the attack and walked away with a 2-1 victory.

“They’re going to get pucks to Spencer, and we are fortunate to have a goaltender who can stop pucks,” said BC head coach Jerry York  in his postgame press conference. “The five-minute major is an interesting dynamic, because if you can defend well the first two or three minutes, then all of a sudden the emphasis carries over.”

With three minutes remaining in regulation, the Warrior offense forced Knight to make arguably the most important save of the game, diving on the ice and pushing away the puck with his leg to stop a goal from Merrimack’s Logan Drevitch and prevent another overtime game. 

“In the third period, game on the line, [it] was a significant turning point in the game and we owe a lot of it to Spencer in goal. He was outstanding,” York said. 

The intensity of Saturday’s game continued until the final whistle, as Knight racked up 35 saves—18  in the third period alone—and helped the Eagles secure the win. Knight has not lost a game in a BC jersey this year, and the sophomore earned his 1,000th career save last Sunday against UNH

The win is the Eagles’ seventh-consecutive home win against the Warriors, and the Eagles, overflowing with momentum, started the game hot. Following an overtime loss last Saturday against UNH and a narrow victory the next night, the Eagles came out flying against Merrimack.

Early on in the first period, freshman Eamon Powell fired a slap shot past Merrimack goalie Zachary Borgiel, earning him his first goal as an Eagle. Senior Logan Hutsko, who returned to the ice after being sidelined due to injury, assisted on the goal. 

Hutsko missed the last two games but made his presence known on Saturday. His assist on Powell’s goal earned Hutsko his 100th point as an Eagle, making him the 83rd member of the 100-point club at BC. 

“He is a key player for us this year as he has been over his career here,” York said. “It was good to have him back after that ankle injury. He has to get back to game shape now because he’s been out for a little while, but 100 points, you can’t buy that. It’s a hard thing to get.” 

Starting the second period, the Warriors began to put pressure on Knight. At the same time, BC freshman Danny Weight took matters into his own hands. He capitalized on his own rebound and sent the puck into the back of the Warriors’ net. Similarly to Powell, this was Weight’s first collegiate goal, and it gave the Eagles a comfortable 2-0 lead. 

Following an interference call on BC, the Warriors had their first man advantage of the game. Warrior freshman Alex Jefferies fired back-to-back shots at Knight, but he hit the goalpost both times in his fierce efforts to get a Merrimack point on the board.

To start the third period, the Eagles were shorthanded once again after Jack St. Ivany went to the penalty box. Merrimack’s Zach Vinnell capitalized on a diving Spencer Knight and sent the puck into the BC net, bringing the score to 2-1.

Afterward, in what looked like a perfect breakaway opportunity for the Eagles, Colby Ambrosio escaped the Warriors’ defense and sent a diving pass to Drew Helleson, who forced Merrimack goalie Borgiel to make an incredible save. 

“I’ve coached a lot of hockey games and they are always competitive,” York said. “They’re never over. … I thought we played very well sporadically in the game but not consistently as well as I would like. … It is a gritty win for us, and there are areas that we will address tomorrow that we can get better at, certainly fixable areas.”

Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics

January 17, 2021