As Boston College men’s hockey head coach Jerry York said on Friday, what makes hockey such an amazing sport to watch is its intensity. Tensions run even higher in rivalry games, and in the 284th edition of the Battle of Comm. Ave., the tension was so palpable that you could practically cut it with a knife.
As a result, No. 1 BC (11-3-1) and No. 15 Boston University (6-2) combined for nine penalties—including two five-minute majors—on the night, and the teams traded big hits all game long. After an overtime decision in BC’s favor the night prior, BU came out with renewed fire and won 3-1, splitting the weekend series.
After Friday’s spectaculars, BC looked to carry its momentum into Saturday’s road tilt with the Terriers. Shortly after the opening puck drop, however, the barrage of penalties began. Each team had a power play chance early in the first period, but neither the Eagles nor Terriers found the net. It was the second round of power plays that got the scoring started.
Eamon Powell lit the lamp first on a power-play goal just under 12 minutes into the first period. Off a point shot from Friday’s hero Drew Helleson, Powell found the rebound in traffic and snuck a shot past BU goaltender Vinny Duplessis, who shined in his first career start. The goal underwent a lengthy review, but it stood, and the Eagles held onto an early 1-0 lead.
Coming into Saturday’s game, the Eagles had a meager 10.4 conversion rate on the power play. But since Alex Newhook’s return to the ice on Friday, BC’s power play unit has scored in two consecutive games.
“It’s been a work in progress with [Newhook] back in it,” York said. “Now, it’s certainly more dangerous. We’re getting better looks at it.”
The Eagles’ lead did not last long, as the Terriers leveled the score on a power play of their own two minutes later. Defenseman Alex Vlasic walked right in toward goal and laced a wrist shot past Spencer Knight to tie the score up at two.
In the final minutes of the first period, the Eagles faced their first major test of the night. Officials handed defenseman Marshall Warren a contact to the head penalty, prompting his ejection from the game and a five-minute power play for the Terriers, but BC’s penalty kill unit was in top form and outlasted the 5-on-4 chance.
Just about halfway into the second period, the Terriers took their first lead of the game. Luke Tuch, the brother of former BC great and Vegas Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch, received a pass from Wilmer Skoog off a 2-on-1 chance which Tuch slotted home. The Eagles’ offensive aggression created the odd-man rush on the other end, and Knight couldn’t bail them out.
There were no penalties called in the second period, but the intensity grew with the increased even-strength play.
The Terriers doubled their lead just 23 seconds into the final period. Tuch slotted home his second of the night off another great feed from Skoog.
Shortly after the Terriers’ third unanswered goal, a gift fell into the Eagles’ laps. BU defenseman Cade Webber cross-checked Casey Carreau late after the whistle, earning him a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct. Even so, the Eagles’ power play, as it has all season, struggled to muster any great chances. The Eagles failed to capitalize, and Mike Hardman took a slashing penalty to end the power play prematurely.
“I would have liked to go all five minutes [on the power play],” York said. “We can’t take penalties on a power play, that’s for sure.”
In his first collegiate start, Duplessis appeared to be a seasoned veteran. Besides Powell’s goal early in the game, he shut the Eagles down, tallying 40 saves on the night. BC’s hard-fought defeat marked the Eagles’ first loss in regulation since Dec. 12 against UConn.
“We played significantly better tonight in all phases of the game than we did last night,” York said. “I thought we generated more offense. We got stellar goaltending again tonight. The one area that was lacking was that we gave up too many odd-man rushes. I was probably trying to do too much [on] offense.”
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Senior Staff