BOSTON -- Round 1 goes to Boston College.
In the first of at least four meetings this season, and perhaps as many as six (depending on how the Hockey East and NCAA playoffs unfold), and with first place in Hockey East on the line, Boston’s two hockey heavyweights squared off before a sellout crowd of 6,150 at BU’s Agganis Arena on Friday.
After 60 wild minutes, the BC Eagles took home a 9-5 win that may not have been pretty but was certainly convincing. Expect more fireworks during Saturday’s rematch at Chestnut Hill.
“Not one guy on the team had a good night,” said BU coach Jack Parker after the fractured affair, adding that the Eagles beat his club in every phase of the game. “We haven’t had a stinker all year, and it’s too bad we had a stinker in front of a big crowd, against our biggest rival.”
The No. 8 Eagles (10-5-0) had the No. 3 Terriers (7-2-5) reeling early, with two lightning-quick strikes before the game was three minutes old. The first came after BU’s senior captain Joe Pereira was off for holding. BC worked the high-low game to perfection, with Pat Mullane collecting the puck down low and sending it to Brian Dumoulin at the left point. Dumoulin drifted to the middle and then ripped a shot, which BC winger Jimmy Hayes, parked to Kieran Millan’s right, tipped over the BU goalie’s blocker for a power-play goal and a 1-0 Eagles lead.
“They won the power play on both ends of the ice, offensively and defensively,” said Parker.
Only 23 seconds later, with the teams at even strength, the Eagles doubled their lead when Paul Carey’s shot from the right faceoff dot appeared to handcuff Millan, and broke past him.
“We played extremely solid,” said BC coach Jerry York. “We were able to get the quick lead, and that set the tenor for the night.”
Down two goals, the Terriers regrouped and forced BC’s John Muse to make two good right pad stops, first off a point shot from BU’s David Warsofsky, then a snap shot from the high slot off the stick of Pereira. Millan kept BU close with a tremendous save moments later, thwarting a BC two-on-one, denying Cary a second goal. BC’s Bill Arnold set Cary up beautifully in the low slot, and the junior from Weymouth, Mass., drilled a shot that was targeted for the low corner. Millan, moving on the pass, dove across the crease to rob Cary, stopping the puck with his left pad.
However, Millan couldn’t stop BC’s junior sniper Cam Atkinson at the 17:45 mark. Finding a soft spot in the BU defense between the hash marks, Atkinson collected a slick feed from BC captain Joe Whitney and sizzled a one-timer over Millan’s glove for a commanding 3-0 Eagles lead going into the first break.
Parker replaced Millan with junior Grant Rollheiser to start the middle stanza. It didn’t change BU’s fortunes. Atkinson rung up his second goal just 2:24 into the second period. Taking another feed from Whitney, he floated to the top of the left face-off circle and just blew a slap shot past Rollheiser’s blocker for a 4-0 BC lead.
Atkinson was denied the natural hat trick 90 seconds later. Breaking in alone on Rollheiser after a BU turnover, Atkinson appeared to lose control of the puck, but it still snuck past Rollheiser’s right pad. However, the on-ice officials disallowed the goal, ruling they had called a penalty on BC’s Brian Gibbons before Atkinson’s strike.
Oddly enough, it was Atkinson’s hooking penalty at 7:51 that gave the Terriers a glimmer of hope. Freshman Max Nieto, breaking in on a two-on-one with Wade Megan, looked off the pass and fired a low wrist shot that beat Muse cleanly just under his blocker for BU’s first goal on the night.
The Eagles regained their four-goal cushion on a shorthanded strike by Barry Almeida. The junior gathered the puck from Chris Kreider, cruised down the right side, juked BU freshman defender Garrett Noonan, cut across the slot and wristed a shot that beat Rollheiser high-glove side. The Eagles pushed their margin to five on a power-play strike by Philip Samuelson. With BU’s Adam Clendening in the box, Samuelson unloaded a slapper from the right point that sailed though a maze of players and past Rollheiser at 15:32.
“It was 6-1 after two, and we had some great special-teams play up to that point,” said York. “They were very good when the game was on the line.”
The Terriers got a power play tally to start the third period, with BC’s Kreider serving two minutes for tripping. Freshman Charlie Coyle tried to curled the puck around Muse, but it squirted out to Pereira, who stuffed it into the net to cut the BC lead to 6-2.
Rollheiser made a super stop on a Mullane breakaway, but Krieder stretched the lead to five again at the 6:10 mark. Crashing the net, Krieder deflected a seeing-eye pass from Patch Alber into the net, an instant before crashing into Rollheiser. The goal was initially disallowed, but upheld on video review, despite Kreider getting called for charging the goaltender.
At the 6:41, with BU enjoying a 6-on-3 advantage on a delayed call, sophomore David Warsofski cranked a shot from the left point for a power play goal.
If any BC goal was a microcosm of BU’s night, it was the eighth. BU’s Sean Escobedo, attempting to circle behind his own net, had the puck roll of his stick. The puck clipped the side of the BU net, where BC’s Arnold picked up the gift and deposited it behind a stunned Rollheiser for an 8-3 Eagle lead.
Still, the Terriers refused to roll over. At the 15:00 mark, Max Nicastro sent a laser from the right point to the top right corner for BU’s 4th, and junior Andrew Glass cut the lead to 8-5 just 13 seconds later when he shoveled a Megan feed over Muse.
A BC penalty shot at the 16:00 mark dashed any thoughts of a BU comeback. BC’s Gibbons, after getting hauled down on a breakaway bid, calmly coasted in on Rollheiser and snapped the puck past the BU netminder to complete the scoring. It was the first time BU surrendered nine goals since March, 2002.
Neither coach expects another 14-goal outburst on Saturday.
“[Saturday] could be 1-0 defensive game,” said York. “This certainly wasn’t a typical Hockey East game.”
Friday’s win gives Boston College sole possession of first place atop the Hockey East standings. At least for 24 hours. Both Parker and York acknowledged that, given the rivalry between the teams, Saturday’s rematch promises to be another feisty affair.
“I told them to forget about tonight,” said Parker of his post-game talk to his Terriers. “It’s not what happened tonight, it’s how we react to it.”
NOTEBOOK: In other recent Hockey East action:
No. 18 Merrimack 2, Northeastern 1
The Warriors (7-3-45) kept the Huskies (2-8-4) on the skids, taking a one-goal victory in Northeastern’s home rink before 1,580 fans. Merrimack built a two-goal lead over the first two periods on strikes by Chris Barton and Stephane Da Costa, and goaltender Joe Cannata made the lead stand with 17 saves over the first 40 minutes. A goal by NU’s Steve Quailer at 5:07 of the third cut the Merrimack lead in half, but the Huskies wouldn’t get another puck past Cannata (27 saves on the night). NU’s Chris Rawlings finished with 23 saves in the losing effort. The two teams meet again Saturday at Merrimack’s Lawler Arena.
No. 5 New Hampshire 3, UMass-Lowell 0
In a rare Thursday tilt, the 5th-ranked Wildcats (8-2-4) rolled in Tsongas Arena and beat the River Hawks (2-11-2), posting a 3-0 shutout with three different players lighting the lamp. New Hampshire’s Brett Kostolansky got the game-winner at the 12:54 mark of the opening period, and Stevie Moses and Mike Sislo added insurance tallies in the second. Wildcat Paul Thompson, the league’s “Offensive Player of the Month” for November, continued his hot hand, collecting an assist on Sislo’s goal. UNH goalie Matt DiGirolamo collected 25 saves for his eighth win of the year, while UMass-Lowell’s Doug Carr had 26 stops in the losing effort. UNH takes on Vermont at home in Durham on Sunday, while the River Hawks travel to Amherst to play the UMass Minutemen on Saturday.
No. 9 Maine 3, Providence College 3 (OT)
Overtime couldn’t decide this match between the Black Bears (6-3-4) and the host Friars (6-5-4). Maine took the lead three times during the game, only to have the Friars tie things up each time. With less than five minutes to go, and the Black Bears holding a 3-2 lead, Providence’s Chris Rooney tallied a shorthanded goal to send the game into overtime. Despite Maine getting seven shots in the extra session, none got past Friar netminder Alex Beaudry, and each team settled for a point. Beaudry finished with 36 saves on the night, while Maine’s Shawn Sirman stopped 35 Friar shots. The two teams meet again Saturday night at Providence’s Schneider Arena.