Last night, No. 2 Boston College men’s hockey team tied the Northeastern Huskies, thanks to a standout performance by junior goalie Thatcher Demko.
Northeastern went into the game with a 2-11-2 record, looking for its first Hockey East win this season. The Eagles, on the other hand, went in with an 11-game winning streak and a perfect record in its division. NU’s desperation for a win, the bitter rivalry between the two schools, and the fact that the Huskies had momentum coming off their rout of Colgate proved to be a near-deadly combination for BC, a team that played lethargically for most of the game.
This match highlighted some of the weaknesses that the Eagles will have to deal with. The Huskies have not won a game at Conte since March 7, 2008, when they ended BC’s 19 game-winning streak in overtime before the Eagles went on to win the national championship.
Although they were able to capitalize on some opportunities, the Eagles came out sluggish in the first period. 4:25 into play, Miles Wood was able to field a rebound off of a blast from Ian McCoshen and find the back of the net through some traffic in front, seeming to spell out trouble for NU.
Both teams then struggled to make any plays until 10:03 into the period, when Alex Tuch made an incredible play and was able to score by sheer dint of will off a stretch pass from Adam Gilmour. Tuch skated over the blue line and forced his way past both Northeastern defensemen, fighting the whole way while being hooked to rifle one past Ryan Ruck and give BC a 2-0 lead.
A mere 30 seconds later, however, Northeastern’s Nolan Stevens answered back with a shot from the edge of the circle that went high, beating Demko on his glove side. From then on, the Huskies engaged in a game-long onslaught of Thatcher Demko; he played outstandingly well, but it was evident from then on that the Huskies would not go down without a fight.
During the second period, both teams seemed evenly matched and while they each had opportunities, neither could capitalize. The Eagles were frustrated at every turn. Wood, angry after being crosschecked with no penalty, retaliated with a crosscheck to the head, resulting in a game misconduct and disqualification from the rest of the game. Luckily, the Eagles’ third-ranked penalty-killing unit was able to hold off the Huskies. By the same token, a Ryan Fitzgerald goal that would have given the Eagles a 3-1 lead was called back because he had collided with the goalie on the play.
In the third period, the tension finally boiled over and the frustrated Eagles became undisciplined and took a few bad penalties. It started with two tripping calls for Tuch at 2:04 and Scott Savage at 4:36. “We took too many penalties, no question,” said Jerry York. Meanwhile, Northeastern attempted 32 shots to the Eagles’ 6. With that many shots, one was bound to break through eventually, as Lincoln Griffin scored 8:32 into the third, tying the game 2-2 and exasperating Demko so much that he threw the net.
Only eight seconds later, Josh Couturier took a questionable boarding penalty that visibly angered the team. Matty Gaudreau was so enraged he leaned over the boards, banging his stick and screaming at a nearby referee, having to be restrained by a coach. He took a 10:00 misconduct and cost himself the chance to extend his eight-game point streak. Shortly after, R. Fitzgerald took a penalty for tripping, creating a 3-on-5 situation for the Huskies. It would have been understandable if Demko allowed a goal in the onslaught that ensued, however, he was a wall. “I’m pretty proud that he was in our net, because otherwise we’d have no points,” York said of his goalie’s performance.
An incredible BC penalty killing team played passionately, culminating in Colin White’s short-handed goal. He found the puck on a breakaway and beat the goalie easily, giving BC the 3-2 lead. Unfortunately, Nolan Stevens was able to keep the Huskies in the game with only a few minutes left in regulation. Following a scoreless overtime, the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
The BC team on the ice did not look like the same one that was ranked second by USCHO and that had earned a 12-1-0 record before last night. As coach York supported, the Eagles managed to earn a tie because of Demko. This game also revealed a lack of discipline and a lack of experience among their younger players. York attributed the number of penalties to said discipline, “I have no problem with the referees.”
Northeastern played aggressively and its play mixed with the Eagles’ poor play, produced penalties because the Eagles could not keep from retaliating and becoming angry. This is something they will need to work on to improve as a team as the season continues.
The Eagles travel to Northeastern today at 4pm to take on the Huskies in the second game of this home-and-away double header. They must learn from last night’s experience and head into today’s matchup level-headed and ready to play the hockey that they’re known for, to get back on track.
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