Following a home-and-home series sweep against No. 2-seed UMass the weekend prior, Boston College men’s hockey entered the opening round of the Hockey East tournament with momentum and a three-game win streak—its longest this season—on its side.
Reminiscent of last year’s quarterfinal, the Wildcats battled back with a pair of goals, but BC repeated history Wednesday night at Conte Forum, defeating the Wildcats (14–19–1, 8–16–1) in overtime 4–3.
Earlier this season, New Hampshire swept BC (15–17–5, 10–12–3 Hockey East) in a home-and-home series, but the Eagles held the 9–3–0 advantage in previous tournament matchups against the Wildcats.
“I’ve always thought that winning is hard—winning in the playoffs … is extremely hard,” BC head coach Jerry York said in his postgame conference. “I like how we played, that’s four straight [wins], and it’s a long way from January and February.”
The Eagles never trailed throughout the contest, setting the tone in the sixth minute of the first frame. Jack McBain fired the puck under the crossbar off Marshall Warren’s drop pass to get BC on the board. His 19th goal of the season extended his goal-scoring streak to a career-best seven games.
One minute later, BC had its first power play against a New Hampshire team that boasts a penalty kill percentage of 88 percent, but BC did not execute on the advantage.
With under two minutes left in the period, New Hampshire’s Tyler Ward scored on his own rebound past BC goaltender Eric Dop for the equalizer at 1–1.
Despite three penalties against the Eagles in the middle frame, they still found the net. In the second minute, Nikita Nesterenko split two New Hampshire defenders while short-handed, beating goaltender Mike Robinson to restore BC’s one-goal advantage at 2–1.
Two consecutive power-play opportunities for New Hampshire followed Nesterenko’s goal, but BC’s special teams unit led two more short-handed breakaway chances, limiting the Wildcats’ time on the one-man advantage.
In the 14th minute, BC went on its own power play. Less than 30 seconds later, Marc McLaughlin capitalized when Drew Helleson’s pass hit a skate and landed in front of the senior captain, who scored to bring the score to 3–1.
Forty-seven percent of New Hampshire’s goals this season have come in the third period, and the Wildcats responded twice more in regulation to prompt overtime.
Tied at 3–3, with New Hampshire holding a 41–24 advantage in shots on goal, the two teams headed to overtime. A penalty late in the final frame sent the Eagles on the power play for the first minute and 25 seconds of overtime, but they failed to capitalize.
The two teams traded shots through the first 10 minutes. With nine minutes left, a backhand shot-pass from Warren found McLaughlin on the goal line. BC’s bench erupted as McLaughlin lifted the puck over Robinson for his second goal of the night to secure the victory for the Eagles.
“The goal was an outstanding play by [Warren],” York said. “He lost the puck in the back end and found the back door. … [McLaughlin was] down in a great situation.”
Coming into the contest, Dop had steered the Eagles to a three-game winning streak with a .956 save percentage. Wednesday night, Dop recorded a season-high 44 saves, his third 40-save performance in the last four contests.
The Eagles will continue their hunt for a conference title as they face No. 1-seed Northeastern in the Hockey East Quarterfinals Saturday night at Matthews Arena.
Featured Image by Ben Schultz / For the Heights