Mitch Benson has had quite a week.
Boston College men’s hockey’s goaltender recorded his first victory in a BC sweater against New Hampshire on Oct. 15 and posted a 32-save effort against Northeastern on Tuesday. On an afternoon when the Eagles failed to convert on a number of early offensive opportunities, they needed Benson to come through for them again.
Benson did just that, stopping 22 shots en route to his first shutout of the year. After erupting for three goals in the second period, BC (2–1–1, 2–0–0 Hockey East) cruised to a 5–0 victory.
“All year, [Benson’s] been rock solid,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “It’s great when you have a veteran guy like that. He’s very calm in the net … he just doesn’t get rattled.”
Stifled by a stingy Eagles’ defense, the Wildcats (3–2–0, 0–2–0) only mustered seven shots in the game’s opening 20 minutes—with their first coming over seven minutes into play.
BC, meanwhile, put New Hampshire goaltender David Fessenden to work early, sending 24 shots in his direction. The Eagles’ heavy offensive pressure forced the Wildcats to clear the puck often. Of those 24 shots, however, only 12 were on goal, keeping the game scoreless heading into the second frame.
“We were fortunate—even though we didn’t score—to do a decent job and not get impatient when pucks weren’t going in,” Brown said.
Just minutes into the second period, officials called a slashing penalty on Nikita Nesterenko, handing the Wildcats the game’s first power-play opportunity.
As the power play expired, Nesterenko emerged from the penalty box and streaked toward the net, creating an odd-man rush. Fessenden stopped Nesterenko’s scoring bid, though, with a sprawling pad save.
But the Eagles wouldn’t remain scoreless for much longer.
New Hampshire was soon called for a slashing penalty of its own, putting BC on the man advantage.
Looking for his first career goal, freshman defenseman Lukas Gustafsson positioned himself right by the face-off circle, waiting for a pass. Oskar Jellvik then rewarded Gustafsson’s patience, sliding him a perfectly placed pass to set up a one-timer goal.
The flood gates then opened up in the period’s final minute.
Nesterenko made up for his missed chance earlier, firing his first goal of the year past Fessenden. Trevor Kuntar followed up 38 seconds later with a score off a rebound, securing a comfortable 3–0 lead for the Eagles.
“It wasn’t until we got those two late goals in the second that we could breathe a little easier,” Brown said.
BC’s offensive explosion continued into the final period.
Halfway through the third period, Cutter Gauthier cleaned up after Cade Alami’s missed shot to put the Eagles ahead by four goals. Mike Posma joined in on the scoring barrage for BC’s fifth goal, capitalizing off of a blocked shot and sealing the Eagles’ shutout.
“I thought we had our most sound game tonight,” Brown said. “I think for 60 minutes, that was the most consistent we’ve been so far.”