While on its surface the 5-2 score might reflect a crushing defeat, an optimistic head coach Jerry York gives fans a reason to look forward to a strong season.
“Boy, we moved pucks today and created some amazing chances to score goals,” York said. “The Badger goaltender, that was a great late pickup for them, he played outstanding.”
No.10 Wisconsin scored early and often to hand BC men's ice hockey its first loss, 5-2, Friday evening.
In spite of the loss, the Eagles have proven themselves to be a promising team. They outshot the Badgers 31-22, dominated in the face-off circle to win possessions 38-23, and used an aggressive forecheck to force turnovers in the defensive end.
“It was a good test for our team,” York said. “It was a good barometer for where we are. I like our penalty killing, good offense, I like where we are as a club.”
A lot of the Badgers’ success came down to incredible goal tending and an occasional lack of discipline by the young BC squad.
In the first period, the Eagles fired away at goal but were unable to slip anything past brick wall Kyle Hayton. The boys carved out more than one opportunity for themselves, robbing the Badgers in their own defensive end with an aggressive forecheck, including an exciting 2-on-1 for freshmen Aapeli Räsänen and Chris Grando, but each time they were frustrated by Hayton.
Wisconsin drew first blood when Trent Frederic sent a shot flying past Woll’s stick side at 17:17. Within 15 seconds, a skirmish broke out in front of the Wisconsin goal. Sophomore David Cotton left Linus Weissbach on his back.d
Cotton and Jacob Tortora went to the box for roughing, with matching penalties handed to Trent Frederic and Tim Davison of Wisconsin, as well as a hitting after the whistle penalty for Frederic, served by Lobosky. BC went on the power play and 30 seconds in, Graham McPhee was able to bury the puck behind an unsuspecting Hayton unassisted after stripping the Badgers defense who were attempting to clear.
The teams went into the second period tied at 1-1, but Wisconsin was able to reclaim the lead less than two minutes in as senior Davison was able to strip the puck off Cotton in the Eagles’ defensive end and then rifle the puck just over Woll’s glove to make it 2-1 at the 1:16 mark.
Just over than three minutes into the period, another skirmish broke out and Wisconsin’s Baker went to the box for cross checking alongside BC captain Casey Fitzgerald and Grando, both for hitting after the whistle. The strong BC PK squad once again was able to mitigate the danger and even carve out some opportunities for themselves.
The momentum moved back in Wisconsin’s favor around the halfway mark, and they translated it into another goal at 12:04. Seamus Malone caught a pass from Will Johnson in a 2-on-1 that blasted past the BC defense and fired from the slot, beating Woll to take Wisconsin to a 3-1 lead entering the third.
Wisconsin’s Matthew Freytang burned Woll on his stick side with a wrister giving the Badgers a 4-1 margin 5:12 into the period. The Eagles impressive, all-freshman third line mustered up another goal when Grando tipped in a shot from Hustko. However, excellent defense on both ends left each team frustrated for the rest of the period until Woll was pulled from the net, allowing Wisconsin’s Baker to seal the Eagles’ fate with an empty netter less than a minute before the final buzzer.
The Eagles skated off the ice with their first loss of the season, but as Coach York reminded his team last night, not all losses are created equal.
“I liked our offense, I thought it was dynamic and we had a lot of grade-A opportunities,” York said. “They say you have to finish, but I like our offense. Our penalty killing was outstanding.”
While York admits that he expects more from his junior offensemen, JD Dudek and Christopher Brown, the very young team, which lacks its entire senior class, proved that they could be a serious threat this season.
“Some of the freshman made a big jump from the last month tonight,” York said. “We were good on faceoffs. We lost one that resulted in a goal and that was tough. But 38-23, usually that's a good indicator that you are ready to go and involved.”
Even York admits that he wondered where his team would generate offense from this season, but the performance by the third-line freshman shows great promise, combining for 14 shots on goal.
“With three freshman together you wonder how it’s going to work out, but I thought they were our dominant line tonight,” York said. “When they were on the ice you knew they were going to make things happen.”
Although the loss was a tough pill to swallow, Eagles fans can look forward to watching the young and promising team develop this season. Next up, the team travels to Providence Sunday for their first Hockey East matchup of the season.