Men's Hockey, Sports, Hockey

McLaughlin’s Two-Goal Outing Powers Eagles Over Brown

Even the best teams often struggle to shake off the rust after a long layoff from play. Due to COVID-19 precautions, Boston College men’s hockey hit the ice again for the first time since Nov. 19 in a Tuesday night matchup with Brown. 

Despite not playing for 18 days, the Eagles (8–5–2, 5–3–1 Hockey East) settled into a groove right from the opening faceoff and finished with a 5–2 victory over Brown (3–8–0, 3–5–0 ECAC).

“There’s a certain amount of rust that is there, rust in the coaching staff, rust in the players,” head coach Jerry York said in his postgame press conference. “I thought we had tons of energy and beat a pretty good Brown team. … I’m very pleased with our overall game considering the COVID situation and considering 18 days without a game.”

In the first few minutes of play, the Eagles connected on sharp passes, forcing Brown to turn the puck over, and generating early chances. They were rewarded for this strong start just under five minutes into the game.

Marc McLaughlin redirected a pass from Patrick Giles past Brown goalie Mathieu Caron and into the net. The opening tally was McLaughlin’s team-leading 10th goal of the season.

Later on in the frame, the Eagles got a chance on the power play, and the power-play unit did not show any rust either. Although it passed, forechecked, and held possession for the full two minutes, the unit was unable to convert while up a man.

Brown’s best chance of the first period came off a Drew Helleson turnover. After Helleson whiffed on the puck, Jonny Russell found himself on an open breakaway. BC netminder Eric Dop came up huge to bail out his teammate and make the save, keeping the score at 1–0 in BC’s favor.

The game opened up in the second period with both teams generating grade-A scoring chances. On BC’s top line, Jack McBain and Nikita Nesterenko got chance after chance on the net, but Caron stood tall to make saves on each shot. Likewise, Dop made a huge save on Tristan Crozier, who had a chance all alone in front of the goal.

With just over five minutes to go in the second period, Brown leveled the score. Justin Jallen’s hard shot from the high slot went off a BC defender and into the net to put Brown on the board.

Just two minutes later, however, the Eagles took their lead right back. Giles took a shot from the right circle that squeaked through traffic and slowly trickled past Caron into the net.

The Eagles seized control in the third period. Just three minutes into the frame, Colby Ambrosio finished off a perfect tic-tac-toe passing play from his linemates to double BC’s lead.

“I thought the key goal was, of course it was 2–1 in the third and Colby scored,” York said. “It was a tic-tac-toe play, it was a very good goal for us.”

Soon after, Nesterenko ripped a one-timer shot past Caron, redeeming himself for his miss on a big scoring chance in the second period. With Nesterenko’s goal, each of the Eagles’ three lines got on the scoresheet, showing just how deep the squad can be when firing on all cylinders.

“I think it’s really important to balance your contribution,” York said. “I was pleased with the twelve forwards and how they played.”

McLaughlin rifled home a breakaway shot toward the end of the third period for his second goal of the night, giving him a two-goal edge over McBain for the team lead in goals.  McLaughlin and his line have elevated their games since the departures of some of last year’s top scorers, including Matt Boldy and Alex Newhook.

“With Marc [McLaughlin] with two goals and Giles with a goal, I thought that line was very good tonight,” York said.

Right after McLaughlin’s second tally, Brown’s Michael Maloney scored off the ensuing faceoff to make it a 5–2 game. The goal proved to be too little too late, and, despite their 18-day hiatus, the Eagles walked away with a win.

Featured Image by Leo Wang / Heights Staff

December 8, 2021