Sports, Hockey, Men's Hockey

Eagles Rebound With Win Over Denver

After its dominant victory over then-No. 18 Northeastern in last Friday night’s home opener, it seemed that Boston College men’s hockey was back on its way to yet another dominant regular season. But the team had struggled to regain its form from that night, dropping its next two games to unranked opponents.

In their second game against a ranked team this season, the Eagles finally looked like that team from the home opener once again. The No. 10 Eagles (3–2–1, 1–0) played a near-perfect game from beginning to end en route to a 5–1 victory over No. 8 Denver (4–2) on home ice at Kelley Rink.

Though the first frame passed without a score, both sides had their chances to break the ice.  Denver went on a power play in the first two minutes of the game following a hooking call against Patrick Giles. The Pioneers were peppering Eagles’ netminder Eric Dop from close range, but Dop stood tall in the crease to hold Denver scoreless despite some strong power-play opportunities.

With about seven minutes remaining in the period, the Eagles were inches away from a 1–0 lead. In search of his first goal as an Eagle, Sam Sternschein’s shot from the right circle rang off the pipe.

As Conte Forum filled up with more students during the intermission, the Eagles on the ice stepped up their game in the second period of play.  BC got on the board just four minutes into the frame. Drew Helleson wristed a shot from the blue line that was deflected by a Colorado defenseman. Off the deflection, the puck floated up and over the shoulder of Denver goalie Matt Davis, who was screened on the play, to put the Eagles up by one goal. The goal marked the first goal of the season for the talented junior defenseman.

Following Helleson’s goal, Denver generated some chances of its own, but once again, Dop stood tall along with the help of the crossbar. With 26 saves on the night, the Bowling Green transfer has begun to find his footing.

In the final minutes of the period, the Eagles doubled their lead. Marc McLaughlin stole the puck and took it down the ice on a breakaway. He was tripped up but still managed to set up Colby Ambrosio on the doorstep, but Davis robbed Ambrosio on his initial attempt.

The puck remained loose before it found Ambrosio yet again. This time, he kicked the puck over to Trevor Kuntar, who fired a slap shot to beat Davis for the well-deserved goal.  Kuntar’s first goal of the season would be the final scoring play of the second period.

The Pioneers came out of the intermission flying and were quickly rewarded for it. Brett Stapley took a shot from the slot that found its way through the net-front traffic and past Dop to cut BC’s lead in half.

After giving up a third-period lead against Colorado College one night prior, the Eagles scored a crucial insurance goal while on the power play. Helleson’s shot from the blue line was deflected into the net by Jack McBain. Davis made the initial save, but McBain was able to bat the rebound out of midair and into the goal to give the Eagles a two-goal advantage, sending the Conte Forum crowd into a frenzy.

“Last night, I thought we were very loose,” BC head coach Jerry York said in his postgame press conference. “There was just more composure tonight. The game was 2–0 in the third and it gets to 2–1, and we still stayed strong throughout the period.”

The Eagles truly put this game away in the final three minutes. First, it was Marshall Warren’s empty-net goal from the complete opposite end of the ice that made it 4–1. Just 46 seconds later, Nikita Nesterenko wristed a shot off the left shoulder of Davis and into the net to make this a 5–1 game, which held to the final buzzer.

Even though it has been a rocky start to this season, the Eagles showed once again that they can compete with any other team in the country.

“Denver, in my opinion, are the best team we played up to this point,” York said. “It seemed to give us a lot of energy in our game. We were better structurally tonight.”

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

October 24, 2021