Until Friday, Boston College men’s hockey hadn’t played a game in 21 days—its last matchup being a 9–6 win over Boston University on “Jerry York Night” on Dec. 9, 2022, just before Winter Break.
Rather than partaking in a holiday tournament, as BC often does, the Eagles (7–5–4, 5–3–3 Hockey East) were scheduled for something more uncommon—a trip to Tempe, Ariz. for a two-game series with Arizona State (9–11–0), the lone Division I men’s hockey team in the Southwest.
“It’s nice for the game of hockey that the game has expanded,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “The success that the NHL has had in what you would consider non-hockey markets has certainly helped that.”
Despite traveling across the country, the Eagles met an all-too-familiar foe—former Northeastern netminder TJ Semptimphelter, who stunned BC with a 41-save performance to lead the Huskies over BC in the 2022 Beanpot semifinals. Semptimphelter transferred to Arizona State in the offseason.
On Friday, the Eagles’ three-goal first period overcame Semptimphelter’s efforts, and BC netted two more goals in a 5–2 win over the Sun Devils.
Nearly two and a half minutes into the game, Mike Posma buried a rebound off an Eamon Powell shot to give the Eagles a 1–0 lead. The rest of the frame was defined by penalties from both teams.
“Each period, the game got better and better,” Brown said. “I thought the first period was very loose on both sides. There were lots of penalties and defensive breakdowns. That’s not unusual coming off of winter break.”
Nikita Nesterenko went to the box first for tripping at the 4:12 mark, and the ensuing power play resulted in a goal for both teams.
With BC shorthanded, Aidan Hreschuk carried the puck all the way up the ice instead of clearing it, and dumped the puck to Andre Gasseau in front of the net, who roofed the puck to double the Eagles’ lead.
“We wanna be dangerous shorthanded,” Brown said. “You don’t want the other team to be too comfortable on the power play. You want them to think you will score shorthanded goals so they always have that in the back of their mind.”
Just a few seconds later, Arizona State’s Dylan Jackson fired a shot from the blue line that slid past BC goaltender Mitch Benson, cutting the Eagles’ lead in half.
After the Sun Devils’ second power play went scoreless, Arizona State’s officials called Ryan O’Reilly for elbowing. Before Arizona State could regain possession of the puck to kill the penalty, Matt Argentina notched BC’s third goal of the night on the delayed penalty.
Unlike in the NHL, if a goal is scored on a delayed penalty call, it does not result in the cancellation of the penalty in college hockey. But BC’s man advantage did not prove effective, as a holding penalty on Oskar Jellvik turned the power play into a 4-on-4 opportunity with just a minute left in the period.
Officials called a penalty on Arizona State’s Ryan Alexander with 34 seconds left in the period, resulting in a 4-on-3 opportunity for BC.
The original penalty on O’Reilly had just nine seconds left when the puck dropped for the second period, and he wasted no time making up for his mistake. O’Reilly scored a goal right out of the box 23 seconds into the frame.
Seven minutes into the period, Liam Izyk drew Semptimphelter out of the net, and Christian O’Neill sent the puck past a diving Robert Mastrosimone to put the Eagles up 4–2.
Seven minutes into the third period, freshman defenseman Charlie Leddy made a veteran play, covering up the puck with his hand in his defensive zone to halt an Arizona State power-play attack. BC killed the Sun Devils’ man advantage and rode that momentum, as Colby Ambrosio batted the puck out of the air to score and seal BC’s 5–2 win.
“[Arizona State] is a good team,” Brown said. “You have to find a way to win some non-conference games to stay involved in the national picture. This also helps to keep our momentum and keep playing the right way.”