Sports, Top Story, Hockey, Men's Hockey

Four-Goal Third Period Catapults BC Past Michigan Tech 6–1

After a huge hit on Ryan Leonard at center ice in the third period of Boston College men’s hockey’s regional semifinal matchup against Michigan Tech, a scrum broke out, and the PA announcer at Amica Mutual Pavillion took on the challenge of reading all seven penalties stemming from the scrum, five on Michigan Tech and two on the Eagles.

Leonard then rallied after the hit, though, and potted his second goal of the game to make the score 5–1, avenging the massive hit he took and the blows that his teammates took in the ensuing scrum.

“I think that’s something I’ve been working on my whole career,” Leonard said. “Just trying to keep mentally focused and knowing that I trust the guys to have my back like that, like you saw there. Everybody kind of stuck up for me and wouldn’t really take that, but I know that our power play is capable of making it hurt and that’s what we did.”

No. 1-seed Boston College (32–5–1, 20–3–1 Hockey East) defeated No. 4-seed Michigan Tech (19–15–6, 12–0–2 CCHA) in the NCAA Regional Semifinal by a score of 6–1 thanks to two-goal performances by Cutter Gauthier and Ryan Leonard, as well as 22 saves from Jacob Fowler.

“It’s no joke with NCAA games,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “It’s always an incredible battle.”

Cutter Gauthier got the game started on the right track for BC, scoring just 36 seconds into the game on the rush, taking a feed from Oskar Jellvik and burying it past Michigan Tech goaltender Blake Pietila.

Turnovers in the defensive zone would plague the rest of BC’s first period. Gauthier coughed the puck up right in front of Fowler, allowing Logan Pietilla to take a point blank shot that rang off the post with 10:40 to go in the period.

Michigan Tech, capitalized on its next opportunity, though, which came when Will Smith turned the puck over in the neutral zone on the power play and Max Koskipirtti took it the other way, beating Fowler to even up the game with 7:05 left in the first.

“They had a couple of chances that we got big saves on, and when they scored the shorthanded goal for them, you could see their bench lift a little bit,” Brown said. “They kind of carried some momentum there for a while.”

From the time of Koskipirtti’s goal throughout most of the early part of the second period, the Huskies dominated the flow of play and looked like they may break the tie, but a momentum-altering 200-foot shift by Ryan Leonard delivered BC its second lead of the game.

Another Smith turnover in the offensive zone led to a breakaway the other way for Michigan Tech, but Leonard bailed out his linemate, crouching down to block a dangerous cross-ice feed and sending the play the other way. On the other end, Leonard tapped in a rebound chance off of a shot from Aidan Hreschuk 6:57 into the second frame.

Another mistake from a freshman put BC on their heels when Gabe Perreault was assessed a five-minute major penalty for contact to the head when he drilled Husky forward Tyrone Bronte with 7:42 left in the second. The nation’s most effective penalty kill stood tall, though, only allowing three shots on goal throughout the duration of the penalty kill, with Fowler up to the task on all three attempts.

“[Perreault] was trying to get into the game,” Brown said. “He felt like he hadn’t been playing his best, but you have to be smart in those situations. You don’t want to be taking fives, especially at this time of the year, you know, we’re playing against dangerous teams in the national tournament.”

Leading up to the scrum in the third period, Connor Joyce added a goal at the back door on a feed from Jack Malone 4:47 into the period, then Oskar Jellvik finished a breakaway chance started by Will Smith 1:37 later.

On the five-minute power play that came from the scrum, Leonard scored his goal top shelf 52 seconds into the man advantage, and Cutter Gauthier buried one with 8:35 left in the game to make it 6–1.

“Yeah, we know the NCAA tournament is no joke,” Leonard said. “And the opponent on the other side is always going to try to take you down and beat you and break you down in any way possible, but we know once we stick to our gameplan and play the way that we’re supposed to we know there’s not a team that can stop us.”

March 29, 2024

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