Boston College men’s hockey is a program known for its hardware. During this holiday season, the Eagles had a chance to add another trophy to their case with their participation in the 32nd Ledyard Classic. It marks the Eagles’ fourth appearance in the midseason tournament and their first since winning it back in 2014.
No. 20 BC took the first step toward its third Ledyard Classic title in program history on Thursday evening, as the Eagles (9–5–3, 5–3–2 Hockey East) defeated Mercyhurst (4–10–4, 3–5–4 Atlantic Hockey) by a final score of 4–2 in the tournament’s opening round. The Eagles will take on Dartmouth—the tournament’s host—in the championship game Friday. The victory also marked head coach Jerry York’s 650th win at BC in his Hall of Fame career.
Despite not playing for nearly three weeks, BC came out of the gate with loads of energy. BC’s enthusiasm matched that of its Dec. 7 win over Brown, the team’s first game back following a 17-day layoff due to COVID-19 complications in November. Even though the Eagles held the puck in the offensive zone for long stretches of play, they were unable to capitalize with an early goal.
Matt Argentina committed a hooking penalty to give Mercyhurst’s power-play unit a chance to take the lead, and the No. 3 team in the nation in power play percentage wasted no time once called upon. Gueorgui Fedulov corraled a loose puck in the crease and backhanded a shot past BC goalie Henry Wilder and into the net. Although BC dominated play early, the Lakers still made the most of their man advantage and got on the board first.
Mercyhurst had another grade-A scoring chance right after its first goal, but Wilder made a point-blank save on Paul Maust. In just his third start of the season, Wilder remained composed in net all night long and made 28 saves on the evening.
The Eagles committed another penalty later on in the period, but this time, it was the Eagles’ penalty-kill unit that struck. Nikita Nesterenko completed a cross-ice pass that created a breakaway chance for his linemate Jack McBain. The senior center made a skillful net-front move around Lakers’ goalie Hank Johnson and slotted the puck home with ease to tie up the score. With the shorthanded goal, McBain, who leads Hockey East in points, continued his hot start to the season.
After a quiet start to the second period from both teams, the Eagles took the lead halfway through the middle frame. The puck was deflected numerous times in front of Mercyhurst’s goal before it fell to Argentina, whose backhand shot beat Johnson.
Just one minute later, McBain doubled the Eagles’ lead on his second goal of the day, marking his 11th of the season. While on the power play, he redirected Brandon Kruse’s hard shot into the back of the net to make it 3–1.
In the third period, Aidan Hreschuk scored the first goal of his collegiate career on a wrist shot that beat Johnson high on his glove side.
Austin Heidemann tallied a goal for Mercyhurst with 2:21 to go, but the score proved to be too little, too late, as the Eagles fended off the Lakers’ surge after Mercyhurst pulled its goalie for an extra attacker.
Despite the strong offensive performance, BC committed six penalties in the outing. Even though Mercyhurst only made them pay once tonight, the Eagles will need to be much more disciplined—not only to win the tournament, but when they return to conference play.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Senior Staff