Sports, Winter, Hockey, Men's Hockey

Eagles Fend Off No. 2 Quinnipiac Behind Fowler’s Debut and Gauthier’s Overtime Silencer

The last time that Boston College men’s hockey had a freshman minding the net was the 2019–20 season, when Spencer Knight helped guide BC to a 24–8–2 overall record before COVID-19 cut the season short. Now, to start the 2023–24 season, there is another freshman in between the posts—Jacob Fowler. 

In BC’s matchup against Quinnipiac, the defending National Champions, Fowler exemplified that, despite his lack of experience, he is able to face the highest level of competition at the collegiate level. 

“Calm, that’s the best word,” BC head coach Greg Brown said of Fowler. “[He] has a great demeanor. We saw that in the USHL with all his successes, but you never know how it will translate but, for the first game did a great job there.”

Although Fowler and BC faced a total of seven Bobcat power-plays, Quinnipiac failed to capitalize on a single opportunity and was held scoreless for over 54 minutes of play. Fowlers’ saves and lockdown blocks certainly contributed to BC’s lockdown defense, as he amassed a total of 29 saves and recorded a .967 save percentage.

“Like I said, when we really got running around we got a couple huge blocks,” Brown said of defending the power-play. “Armstrong had one, Hreschuk had one. And then we got saves from Fowler. There was no magic to it. Just a lot of blood and guts and hard work and we were able to survive it.”

With no exhibition games to start the season, No. 6 BC (1–0) opened its season against the No. 2 Bobcats (0–1) at their packed M&T Bank Arena in Hamden, CT. Behind Fowler’s lockdown goaltending and Cutter Gauthier’s overtime goal, the Eagles escaped enemy territory with a 2–1 victory to start the season.

BC had its first five-minute power-play opportunity when Quinnipiac’s Sam Lipkin recorded a five-minute major at the 13:44 mark, but the Eagles failed to capitalize. Before the power-play ended, Gabe Perreault recorded the first of many seven BC penalties to relevel the playing field and close the Eagles’ window of advantage. 

Just moments later, the Bobcats were forced to play with a man down again after a Charles-Alexis Lagualt penalty gave BC its second power-play of the game with 7:42 left in the first period. Just as before the Eagles failed to end the stalemate.

But that stalemate, however, ended with just under two minutes remaining in the period. Andre Gasseau decided to take matters into his own hands, and despite playing short handed on defense, he intercepted a Quinnipiac pass and dribbled the puck down the ice. In one swift motion, Gasseau sent a rocket from the left circle directly past Vinny Duplessis to make it 1–0 BC.

“Since halfway through the season last year, Andre’s really been on the rise,” Brown said. “I can’t remember the exact date but when we put them with Gauthier and Nesterenko last year, he just took a huge jump and he hasn’t slowed down since then. He’s a heck of a hockey player.”

Although the Eagles held the lead, their lack of discipline proved costly throughout the matchup, as it spilled over the second period. A tripping penalty on Charlie Leddy put the Eagles on a defensive approach early, and just over two minutes after killing the Bobcat’s first powerplay of the period, BC was right back on its heels after Will Smith was called for slashing.

Fowler, alongside BC’s prevent defense, was seemingly impenetrable, helping bail out the Eagles’ mistakes on offense.

But the penalties kept coming, and with 5:46 left in the second frame, BC recorded its third of the period and sixth of the game. This time, BC captain Eamon Powell was called for hooking, but another slew of Fowler saves kept the Bobcats from knotting it at one goal apiece. 

Fowler racked up a whopping 13 saves in the period, while Quinnipiac sent a staggering 27 total shots in his direction.

BC was called for its seventh penalty midway through the third period, but continued to maintain its one-goal advantage.

While BC continued to fend off the power-plays, Fowler’s shutout finally came to a close with 5:26 remaining in regulation after Mason Marcellus found the puck on a rebound and knocked it into the back of the net to tie the game 1–1. The Eagles could not reclaim their lead in time and entered a 3-on-3 overtime to decide the game.

As the clock wound down, and Quinnipiac missed their final shot of the overtime, BC corralled the puck and made one final push down the ice. At the 13 second mark, Ryan Leonard sent a pass to Gauthier, who sent a screamer into the back of the net for BC’s first win of the season.

“Number 19 can shoot it,” Brown said. “He got out there with a little bit of room, and we had a great angle from the bench. You know, pulled it in and got it upstairs, so it’s a nice finish for us.”

October 7, 2023