Boston College men’s hockey prepared all week to take on Northeastern this weekend, but Merrimack took their place at the last second after the Huskies reported a positive COVID test in the program.
BC swept Merrimack to extend its record to 8-2 overall, but the pair of wins were not easy to come by for the No. 3 team in the nation. BC hung on late to take the first game of the series 2-1 on Saturday before rallying in the third period to win 5-3 the next day on the road.
It took just over a minute for the Eagles to get on the board in the series when Logan Hustko cut back in a crowd of defenders and found Eamon Powell wide open in space with a gorgeous pass. With an easy one-on-one opportunity in front of the goal, Powell coolly ripped a shot to the near post for the first goal of his career.
The Eagles kept the pressure on for the rest of the period following Powell’s goal, but they couldn’t convert on their collection of chances and went into intermission up 1-0.
Merrimack came out in the second period much more aggressive offensively, but Spencer Knight parried everything that came his way to maintain the BC lead.
About halfway through the period, the Eagles lit the lamp for a second time when freshman Danny Weight put away a rebound into an open net for the first goal of his career. Merrimack struck the post twice on a power play in the ensuing minutes, but BC would escape unscathed heading into the final frame up 2-0.
The two-goal cushion shrank to one just a couple of minutes into the third period when Merrimack finally snuck one past Spencer Knight in a scrum in front of the net. BC caught another bad break with 10:29 left in the game when a Trevor Kuntar charging penalty had the Eagles shorthanded for five minutes.
After a series of outstanding saves from Knight, the Eagles successfully killed off the penalty and survived to win 2-1.
Kuntar didn’t hesitate to redeem himself in the second game of the series, putting Boston College up 1-0 midway through the opening period when Marc McLaughlin scooped up a loose puck behind the net and set him up for a close-range finish.
Merrimack found itself at a five-on-three disadvantage in the dying moments of the first period after a pair of BC penalties in the dying moments of the first period and frustratingly knotted things up at 1-1 with only 13 seconds left before the Eagles could escape to intermission.
Merrimack retained its power play at the start of the second period, but it was BC who notched another goal after just a minute of play. Nikita Nesterenko was the goal scorer this time with a slick wrist shot to the near post following a layoff down the right side from Jack St. Ivany.
It seemed like BC could finally breathe after taking the lead and returning to full strength, but the Minutemen responded with a goal of their own not even a minute later. The Eagles’ penalty troubles continued for the ensuing minutes, keeping them focused on defending their own net.
BC finally got a couple of power-play opportunities of their own towards the end of the period but struggled to transition to threatening Merrimack offensively and the period ended at 2-2.
BC wasted a couple more cracks at power-plays early in the third period and fell behind for the first time in the series on a breakaway goal.
However, the Eagles would steal from Merrimack’s rapid response playbook and tie the score at three in the very next minute when Logan Hutsko struck following a face-off.
The Eagles ran away with things from there to win 5-3 after Marc McLaughlin ended BC’s power-play woes with a precise finish on a sharp angle and Matt Boldy killed off all doubts with an empty-net goal in the final seconds.
BC improves to 8-2 overall on the season and in conference play after the tougher than expected weekend sweep. The Eagles will hope that things are much smoother next time around when they face Merrimack yet again next weekend.
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