Sports, Winter, Hockey, Men's Hockey

No. 2 Eagles Complete Comeback, Defeat Merrimack 6–4

No. 2 Boston College men’s hockey’s matchup at Merrimack did not get off to the typical start that Eagles have been used to in the 2023–24 season. 

“We started slow, Merrimack really took it to us in the first period, controlled the whole play and had a two-goal lead on us,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. 

Less than two minutes into the first period, the Warriors put BC on its heels with an early score from Ethan Bono, who put a close-range shot past Jacob Fowler to give Merrimack a 1–0 lead. 

With just over a minute remaining in the opening frame, the Warriors struck again, and BC headed into the second period with a two-goal deficit, having posted a donut on the scoreboard. Ivan Zivlak potted the goal after finding himself with a one-on-one breakaway opportunity. 

But the Eagles (15–4–1, 8–3–1 Hockey East) proved why they have only lost three Hockey East games all season, and clawed themselves back into the game, eventually defeating Merrimack (10–11–1, 3–8–1) 6–4 in a chippy battle. The Eagles rattled off three goals in the second period to take the lead from the Warriors and tallied three more in the third period to put the game away.

Throughout the first period, the Eagles struggled to win faceoffs, notching just seven compared to Merrimack’s 15. Despite being the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, the Eagles are slotted at 49th in faceoff efficiency.

The Eagles also failed to capitalize on two power play chances, but like the flip of a switch, BC appeared to regain its footing in the second frame. 

“We played a lot smarter, a lot more on our toes, and helped initiate some plays, rather than kind of just be receiving when they were initiating,” Brown said.”

Cutter Gauthier ended the shutout for BC three minutes into the second period to cut the Warriors lead in half. Then, 14:23 later, Gauthier’s linemate Andre Gasseau scored off a rebound to knot the game at two goals apiece. 

Gauthier refused to slow down and gave BC its first lead of the game with less than a minute remaining in the second period when he sent a rocket to the top shelf on a BC power play. 

“In the second period, we just had much more purpose,” Brown said. “We got pucks behind them, not careless turnovers in the neutral zone like in the first period, and it went better for us.” 

Gauthier also netted the Eagles’ sixth goal of the game on an empty net with just seven seconds left to earn his first collegiate hat trick and put the finishing touches on the affair.

When Will Smith potted a goal 2:32 into the final frame and Ryan Leonard at the 7:21 mark, it looked as though BC had all of the momentum in its favor, yet Merrimack refused to drop the in-state tilt without a fight. 

After Ryan Leonard drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after yelling at Merrimack’s netminder Zachary Borgiel, Merrimack took advantage while on the power play and made it a two-goal game with 6:52 to play. Then Matt Copponi made it a one-goal game just over three minutes later, but that would be the last goal that the Warriors could muster, and Gauthier slammed the door shut in the final moments. 

“We knew we had to be much better than that, and I was very happy with the response in the second and third period,” Brown said. 

January 20, 2024