Freshmen Come up Big in Hockey's Win against Michigan State

Last night, the Boston College men’s hockey team won its eighth straight game by beating Michigan State 6-4. The Eagles were propelled to victory thanks to a surge late in the third period and the dominance of some of its rookies. With just over two minutes left to play, Miles Wood put away the game-winning goal by deflecting a shot from the point by Austin Cangelosi.

The freshmen players were easily some of the best on the ice last night, scoring three and contributing on five of the six goals. Colin White tallied two goals and an assist, and Wood scored the power play, game-winning goal and assisted on Ryan Fitzgerald’s empty netter.

Wood made himself a physical presence throughout much of the opening period, coming up with big hits and absolutely wrecking numerous MSU players on the ice. The first period was a physical one, with both teams creating opportunities and firing from all cylinders, but no one could seem to break through. "There was relentless effort from both teams around the goal creases," Jerry York noted.

Following a scoreless first, White opened up the scoring 4:30 into the second. He was positioned at the top of the crease while R. Fitzgerald worked the puck behind the net, laying it off for Matthew Gaudreau who placed it in front for the patiently waiting White, who slipped it in through the five-hole.

Eleven seconds later, the Spartans struck back and tied the game up. The puck trickled in front of the net right to MSU’s Mackenzie MacEachern, who immediately took advantage of the defensive slip-up and fired home the one-timer.

While BC didn’t show much dominance in the second and most of the period was played in the Eagles’ zone, White was able to heighten the Eagles’ morale when he got his second goal of the night late in the period. A beautiful pass from Travis Jeke led him to take the puck in through the MSU zone and beat both his defender and goalie Jake Hildebrand with a backhander to the top shelf.

The third began with BC on the disadvantage, but following a successful penalty kill, the Eagles were able to strike within the first two minutes of the period. White blocked a shot from the point and sent it up the boards to Gaudreau, who airmailed a pass from center ice to Fitzgerald. Ryan then took the puck into State’s zone, beating the defender and with a few dekes he lifted stick side into the net.

Alex Tuch finally got the goal he’d been waiting nine games for. While he did score last game, it was an empty netter. This goal had to have felt much sweeter for Tuch, knowing that he got it with someone in the net. Zach Sanford sent a beautiful leading pass to Tuch, who was able to take advantage of the breakaway and beat Hildebrand, glove side to add cushion to the BC lead.

About 30 seconds later, MSU struck back. Fourteen seconds after that, they struck again. In a span of two minutes and thirteen seconds, the Spartans scored three unanswered goals, leaving the BC defense dumbfounded. The Eagles three-goal lead was diminished to a tie game with 5:45 left to play.

"I thought that michigan state showed a lot of resolve down 4-1, away from home. You know not much time left in the game and they got right back and made a terrific run at us," said York.

At this point, it was anyone’s game, but it was just a matter of who was going to step up to the occasion. Luckily, BC got a call in its favor as MSU’s Joe Cox was sent off for interference and the Eagles went on the power play with 2:56 remaining in the game.

The Eagles used the three-goal fiasco and the time-out that followed and turned it into motivation as they capitalized on the man advantage. As the Eagles’ offense moved the puck around the neutral zone, it got to Cangelosi at the point, who then ripped a shot that deflected off Wood and through the five hole for the game-winning goal.

"We just had to keep our composure--they've got a good team, they made good plays to get back in it--and to just play hockey. There's always lessons we learn and you go through the season and certainly that was one of them. We took a pretty good punch, got knocked down and were reeling late in the game and we came back and show some resolve of our own," said York.

Bianca Dempsey / Gavel Media

Bianca Dempsey / Gavel Media

To add salt to the wound, Fitzgerald added the empty netter with just over a minute remaining in the game. Both the stands and the bench erupted, as that was the twisting of the dagger; the relinquishing of the game that BC almost let slip away due to a short-lived defensive relapse.

While the defense was not putting on its best display, the offense knew what it needed to do and produced when necessary. They came through under pressure and showed maturity and patience when they needed it the most. "You've gotta give them credit, they had no quit in them," said York.

Coming into the game's matchup, the Eagles seemed to have one big brawl in each of their last three games, leading to major penalties, game misconducts and—in some cases—disqualifications. Last night, there was a minor scuffle behind the MSU net, following a late hit by Joey Dudek, but the Eagles showed restraint and a little bit more discipline than in the past. "You've gotta have emotion, but it's gotta be controlled emotion and were working towards that," York noted.

The absence of freshman netminder Chris Birdsall from the roster, missing from the ‘non-dressers’ list as well, raised a few eyebrows.  The White-Gaudreau-Fitzgerald line was a great move by Jerry York and the staff, Gaudreau has really started to come into his own in playing with the two future NHLers. Both White and Gaudreau are currently on a five-game point streak and Jerry York is seven games away from 1000 wins.

This team is poised for a great second half; from the first to the fourth line, players are making contributions and being difference makers in every game.

The Eagles will head to UNH next Saturday and will  return to home action after Thanksgiving break. They play RIT on November 28 at 4pm.

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