One Step Forward, Two Steps Back for Men’s Hockey
By JD Biagioni
Where: Conte Forum
When: December 30, 2017
Result: 2-0 BC
After a three-week break, BC men’s hockey began the second half of the season at home against the UCONN Huskies. The Eagles found themselves up one point on another group of Huskies, Northeastern, for first place in the Hockey East. For the first time all season, BC pitched a shutout thanks to a strong performance from backup backstop Ryan Edquist.
The first goal of the night, halfway through the first frame, was a power play goal. At 11:59, Brian Rigali was whistled for boarding. BC seized the opportunity and potted the puck under a minute later. Strong puck movement was the key on this goal, as Casey Fitzgerald facilitated play by dumping the puck into the corner. Julius Mattila scooped it up and skated out to the dot. He dropped the puck off to David Cotton. Cotton skated down the seam and found an opening to squeeze one by UCONN goalie Adam Huska to put BC on the board.
Back-and-forth play continued for the rest of the first and through the second period. Edquist held strong and stuffed all Husky scoring chances. Fans didn’t see another goal until midway through the third period. This time it was Ron Greco who continued his hot streak with the team’s second goal of the night, his fourth goal in his last six appearances. Fitzgerald picked up his second assist of the night on the play. His shot went intentionally wide and caromed to Zack Walker. Walker immediately shoved the puck to the goal mouth. Amidst the chaos in front of Huska’s net, Greco was able to tuck the puck past the UCONN goalkeeper.
Edquist was obviously the first star of the game, but it was a solid team performance overall. After a disappointing loss or two before Christmas, it was encouraging to see BC come out strong from the three-week layoff.
Number to know: 14-BC’s ranking going into 2018
Who: Michigan Tech
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
When: January 5, 2018
Result: 4-3 Michigan Tech
With Joe Woll busy playing for team USA in the World Junior Championship, Ryan Edquist led the Eagles into the Ice Vegas International tournament. BC came into the post-Christmas tournament with high expectations, being the only ranked team in the tournament (Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, and Arizona State were the other participants). Edquist, however, was unable to repeat his spectacular performance from the UCONN game, and BC fell 4-3.
Penalties were BC’s downfall in the game. Michigan Tech jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, behind a penalty shot goal and two power play goals. At 14:29 of the first frame, Michael Karow was whistled for covering the puck in the crease, which gave Dylan Steman a penalty shot. Steman deked Edquist and snapped one short side to put Michigan Tech up 1-0.
At 15:53, Jacob Tortora and Seamus Donohue got into a skirmish and both received roughing minors. Tortora, however, also received a five-minute major for facemasking and a game misconduct. Michigan Tech went on the power play and quickly converted. Greyson Reitmeier fired a shot wide of the goal, but the puck bounced back out in front of Edquist. Brent Baltus collected the loose puck and tucked it past the BC goaltender.
Zach Walker took a boarding minor at 17:47 of the first. With Tortora’s major penalty, BC needed to kill off a full two minute, two man advantage for Michigan Tech. Unfortunately, Michigan Tech was just too much for BC to handle in the first period and the Eagles surrendered a third goal with just 15 seconds to play in the period. Similar to the second goal, the play began with a shot wide of the goal mouth that bounced back to a Michigan Tech attacker, this time Mark Auk, in front of Edquist. Instead of trying to beat Edquist, Auk found Alex Smith on the opposite end of the crease for the easy finish.
If the first period belonged to Michigan Tech, the second was all BC. The Eagles outshot their opponent 17-5 and were able to cut the deficit to one. Characteristic of the game, both goals by the Eagles in the middle frame were scored on the power play. Logan Hutsko drew a hooking penalty on Mitch Meek at just of eight minutes into the period. Julius Mattila captained the power play from behind the Michigan Tech net. He found David Cotton at the left dot, and Cotton found a streaking Casey Fitzgerald down the seam. Fitzgerald collected the puck and put BC on the board.
BC was back on the man advantage 30 seconds after the goal, after Dane Birks was sent to the box for high-sticking. Logan Hutsko and Luke McInnis set up Graham McPhee in prime scoring position. McPhee threw the puck on net. It bounced off the skate of a Michigan Tech defenseman and into the net.
The Eagles had all the momentum going into the third, but were unable to pull even with Michigan Tech. A Gavin Gould wrister sailed over Edquist’s shoulder a little over halfway through the third to put Michigan Tech back up by two. Edquist was called to the bench with 90 seconds remaining in the game and Michael Kim quickly fired a slapshot past the Michigan Tech goalie to cut the deficit to one. BC unsuccessfully attempted to scored the game-tying goal in the final minute and Michigan Tech held on for the win. A disappointing loss no doubt, but the Eagles can be proud of the fight they showed after being down three 20 minutes into the game.
Number to know: 1-this game marked the first time this season that the Eagles have netted multiple power play goals in a single game.
Who: Northern Michigan
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
When: January 6, 2018
Result: 3-3 Tie
Who knew there could be a tie in a tournament game? Granted it was the consolation game of the Ice Vegas International tournament, but 65 minutes of hockey wasn’t enough to decide the winner between BC and Northern Michigan. Following the five minute overtime, there was a five minute 3-on-3 overtime period. Still tied following double overtime, the teams went to a shootout, which Northern Michigan won 2-0. While Northern Michigan won in the shootout, the game went down as a draw for both teams once the game entered a second bonus frame.
Northern Michigan jumped out to an early 1-0 lead behind an even-strength goal from Rylan Yaremko. BC turned the puck over in their own end. Yaremko found himself in prime position to receive a pass from Philip Beaulieu and bury a low snap shot by Ryan Edquist.
Connor Moore was sentenced to two for hooking at 3:47 of the second. After a difficult night on the penalty kill in the first game of the tournament, the Eagles temporarily reversed their fortunes and netted a shorty. Mere seconds after Moore went to the box, Graham McPhee won the defensive zone draw. He flipped the puck out to Christopher Brown on the breakaway. Brown deked, sniped, and evened the score.
The Eagles managed to kill off the rest of the Moore minor, but Northern Michigan took a 2-1 lead just as Moore came out of the box. Adam Rockwood cycled the puck back to Beaulieu in the BC zone. Beaulieu zipped the puck cross ice to Troy Loggins and Loggins finished the one-timer past Edquist.
BC pulled even again with just 30 seconds remaining in the second frame. Jesper Mattila led the transition play up ice when he found McPhee in the neutral zone to begin the breakout. McPhee fed Julius Mattila at the blue line. Julius skated in hard, made a quick move, and tucked the puck in the net.
BC took its first lead of the evening with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation. Julius Mattila came away with the loose puck behind the Northern Michigan net. He dumped it out front to an open David Cotton for the tip-in.
McPhee took an interference penalty at 11:14 of the third, and this time BC was not able to fend off the Northern Michigan power play. Northern Michigan gained control of the puck and mounted some good offensive zone time. Loggins fed Beaulieu for the one-timer to even it up one last time.
BC outshot Northern Michigan 4-0 in the 5-on-5 overtime, but the score stayed 3-3. All in all, BC tied for last in a tournament which they probably should’ve won. In a weird tournament from start to finish, the Arizona State Sun Devils, who entered the tournament a paltry 4-12-4, came away with the inaugural trophy.
Number to know: 0-the number of non-Hockey East games left on the BC schedule.