Kate McCabe / Gavel Media

Brian Gionta’s Jersey Retired as Men’s Hockey Sweeps Merrimack in Weekend Series

The sixth-ranked BC men’s hockey continued to click offensively as they roared to a pair of weekend victories over Merrimack. The Eagles held off Merrimack for a 3-2 road win Friday night before returning home to rout the Warriors 6-2 on Saturday afternoon.

During the first intermission on Saturday, Boston College honored the program’s all-time leading scorer Brian Gionta '01 with a short ceremony as they raised his #12 jersey into the rafters at Kelley Rink. 

The Eagles fell behind early in the first game of the series when Spencer Knight was beaten to the right post with five minutes to play in the first period.

Knight realistically had no chance to make the save when a wrist shot from just inside the blue line was backhanded at a near 90-degree angle into the upper right corner of the net.

BC roared back after the first intermission to seize a 2-1 lead in just a matter of minutes. Luke McInnis scored the equalizer under five minutes into the second frame when he corralled the skipping remains of a blocked Zach Walker shot and rifled the puck past the helpless Merrimack goalie from the slot.

Walker was involved in the second goal just a few minutes later when he jarred the puck loose from a battle behind the net to Ron Greco who pinched in on the left post.

Up 2-1 entering the final period, the Eagles kept their foot on the gas and quickly added a third goal on power play when play resumed. Jack McBain circled around the net and hooved the puck into a dangerous position in front of net for an easy Alex Newhook finish.

Merrimack fought back with a brilliant solo effort and laser past Knight about halfway through the period, but ultimately fell short as BC took the road portion of the series 3-2.

BC eternalized Brian Gionta’s jersey at the end of the first period on Saturday, but the tribute to him began just minutes after the puck dropped as the Eagles did what Gionta did best, score goals.

The team didn’t quite match Gionta’s career tally of 123 goals, but they did do plenty of lamp lighting with two goals in each period. The first came on a beautiful two-man break down the ice when Alex Newhook dusted a defender down the right side and centered the puck to Matt Boldy for an easy finish. Newhook then added the second himself when he rebounded home Mike Hardman’s wraparound effort about midway through the period. 

The Eagles’ comfort dissipated a bit in the early second when Merrimack cut into the lead with an easy 3-on-1 finish. BC brought their lead back to two under a minute later however, and then scored again late in the period to take a 4-1 lead heading into second intermission.

Hutsko scored the team’s third goal all by himself by intercepting a lazy Merrimack pass deep in their own zone and blasting the puck into the upper right corner. Newhook and Boldy connected again for the next goal when Newhook wriggled in front of net and wristed a shot that deflected straight to an unmarked Boldy.

Newhook tallied his second goal of the night just over a minute into the final period when he walked in Michael Karow’s shot off the post for a 5-1 lead. Unable to do anything against Knight who saved 24 shots on the evening, the Warriors pulled their goalie with a little over five minutes to play.

Newhook took advantage to tally his third assist when Julius Mattila tapped his clearance into an empty net. Merrimack beat Knight in garbage time on a power play, and the Eagles emerged with a 6-2 win.

Boston College’s dominant weekend sweep over Merrimack brings them to a fantastic 19-8-1 on the season and gives them plenty of momentum heading into a late week series with #12 Northeastern.

The Eagles are hanging on to the top spot in Hockey East with a 12-6 conference record, making this series against their rivals crucial as the season winds down. The first game will take place at Northeastern 7 p.m. Thursday, and the second will be at Kelley Rink on Friday night at 7 as well.

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Sean Rietzke