On a team that almost always has at least three NHL draft picks on the ice at any given moment, Boston College men’s hockey seems to count on one player to seal games in the clutch. This season, you’d be hard pressed to find a game where he wasn’t up to the task.
That player is, of course, Cutter Gauthier.
The Eagles’ game at Connecticut on Saturday was no different. Gauthier got the puck in his own zone, skated through the neutral zone around any Husky that dared challenge him, and fired a wrister from the high slot. UConn goaltender Ethan Haider could only watch as it scorched past his glove and into the top corner of his goal, giving BC a two-goal lead with 3:30 left in the game.
No. 4 BC (9–2–1, 4–1–1 Hockey East) defeated UConn (5–8–1, 3–5–0) 3–0 thanks to a 31-save shutout from Fowler and a game-sealing goal from Gauthier.
“We certainly didn’t start as well as last night, but we did get better as the game went on,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “Partly we were not moving our feet well enough in the first, but also UConn was on their toes and playing hard and really put us under pressure. So the combination made for—we were very lucky to get out with a one-goal lead.”
Gabe Perreault converted a blocked UConn shot into an odd-man rush that got BC on the board first. Perreault got in front of UConn defenseman Jake Flynn’s shot, then changed his momentum and pushed the play forward.
Perreault and Will Smith skated together all the way to UConn’s net front with no intervention from the Huskies, passing the puck back and forth. Perreault made one final pass to Smith in front of netminder Haider, and Smith tapped it in to put BC up 1–0 4:03 into the game.
“We had the one break where we were able to capitalize, but the rest of the period was mostly Fowler playing outstanding in the net,” Brown said.
The Huskies nearly tied it on a BC power play 9:26 into the second period when Jake Percival found himself all alone with Fowler and beat him for the first time in the night through the five hole. But the puck bounced off the post and out rather than lighting the lamp and tying the game.
The drama in the third period started with 7:16 remaining when officials made a controversial call. Jacob Bengtsson hooked Percival, and that call was not in question, but officials assessed Percival with a matching minor for embellishment, negating a potential momentum-swinging power play for UConn.
Lukas Gustafsson helped out Fowler, as he made a critical defensive play when he swatted a puck out of the air that got past the netminder with roughly four minutes remaining.
After Gauthier’s goal doubled the lead, UConn head coach and former BC assistant Mike Cavanaugh pulled his goalie with 3:20 remaining, and Oskar Jellvik found the empty net 44 seconds later to erase any doubt that BC would leave Storrs, Conn. with anything less than three points.
“He’s got a great knack for finding the net,” Brown said of Jellvik. “And for most of the period, UConn again had us under pressure, but you know, he didn’t need a lot of space there, and it was a really good shot to beat the goalie under his glove.”
Fowler was reliable all night for BC, as he allowed no goals on 31 shots, 17 of which came in the first period. Fowler leads Hockey East with nine wins and 327 saves on the season and has maintained a save percentage of .926.
“It was really key how well Jacob played in that first period for us,” Brown said.