When Cutter Gauthier committed to play for Boston College men’s hockey in the summer of 2020, the Eagles received one of the most highly touted 2004-born forwards in the country.
Gauthier’s fast-paced play and solid frame allowed him to outmaneuver defenders when he played for the U.S National Development Team Program in 2021. Twelve games into BC’s season, Gauthier’s abilities have seamlessly translated to the collegiate level, as he leads BC’s roster with seven goals.
On Tuesday night against Brown, Gauthier demonstrated exactly why he was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and continued his offensive dominance. With one goal and one assist, Gauthier propelled the Eagles (5–5–2, 4–3–1 Hockey East) to a 4–2 win over Brown (3–7–1, 1–6–1 ECAC).
BC opened the first period on a fast-paced two-minute possession, during which Trevor Kuntar skated circles around Brown’s defenders. Marshall Warren back checked confidently throughout the first period, allowing BC’s offense to flow down the ice.
The Eagles jumped out to a 7–1 advantage in shots just five minutes into the first period and appeared to be coasting to an early goal.
With 12 minutes left in the first frame, Cam Burke made a bid for his first goal of the season on a one-timer from the slot, but Brown’s defensive line blocked the shot and redirected the puck to Brown netminder Mathieu Caron’s glove.
Brown led the nation in blocked shots per game during the 2021–22 season and the Bears showcased their ability to put pressure on opposing teams’ offenses against BC. Brown blocked four shots in the first period and finished the game with 10 blocked shots.
“They played very hard in the defensive zone, blocking shots,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “I thought they did a nice job in the neutral zone too, but they didn’t give us a lot of time at the perimeters.”
Just when the Bears began to gain momentum as Nathan Plessis fired a close shot at Benson, Gauthier took a breakout into Brown’s defensive end. With his stick out in front of him, Gauthier slid a backhand pass to Andre Gasseau.
From there, Gasseau ripped a shot over Caron’s blocker into the upper left-hand corner of the net, putting the Eagles up 1–0.
BC won the faceoff battle 14–7 in the first period, which efficiently set up breakouts from underneath.
“Faceoffs are huge,” Brown said. “To get possession right off the draw and hopefully advance to the offensive zone is a great way to start your shift. I thought we had some unnecessary turnovers at the blue line that created some momentum for [Brown], but we did a better job at the faceoff dot.”
BC goaltender Mitch Benson dominated in the second period, while the Eagles’ offense failed to execute on the power play nine minutes into the frame.
On two occasions in the second period, Plessis and Zackary Tonelli stood directly in front of Benson with no BC players defending the crease. On both occasions, Benson made clutch saves with his knee pads, kicking away shots.
“[Benson] had a great game, really solid,” Brown said. “Especially as they were trying to get behind us in the third [period] when they were down, and we didn’t recognize some opportunities, Mitch did a great job of being there for the guys.”
Gauthier centered a puck to Kuntar less than a minute into the third period but Coran swatted it away.
BC found success on the power play with six minutes remaining in the third frame. Just after Samuli Niinisaari nearly slotted a puck over Benson’s shoulders but hit the crossbar, Gauthier was right back where he had started the period—in scoring position.
As Eamon Powell circled the point, Gauthier slid up from the right slot to the opposite pointside and slammed home a one-timer to put the Eagles up 2–0.
The end of the third frame was characterized by a scoring frenzy from both teams. After Gavin Puskar netted his second goal of the season to narrow the Bears’ deficit to one goal with less than three minutes to play, Nikita Nesterenko fired a puck all the way down the ice and into an empty Brown net, handing BC a 3–1 lead.
With 52 seconds remaining, Brown’s Brett Bliss found the back of the net to again bring the Bears within one, but Nesterenko responded with an identical goal to the one he scored just over a minute earlier. From just above the blue line, Nesterenko once again fired a puck into the back of an empty net, and the Eagles secured the 4–2 victory.
“It was a tight game down the stretch,” Brown said. “We’ve got to be a little smarter and a little bit simpler and stop making tough passes across rather than getting pucks to the net.”