And Then There Were Three
The Boston College men’s hockey team dominated at Conte Forum last night, defeating the Maine Black Bears with a thunderous 7-2 win. This victory cemented the team’s placement at the top of the Hockey East rankings, as the Eagles are leading the league with a 10-1-1 record. Payback was achieved against the only Hockey East team that has beaten them this season.
The talented trio of Kevin Hayes, Bill Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau began their successful journey as a line on Dec. 6, 2013, and have been nothing short of spectacular since then. The line adjustment has led BC to an undefeated 8-0-1 streak, generating an astonishing 57 points. Last night, the line came together and collectively earned four goals and nine assists. The linemates shared stars of the game awards.
Hayes was unstoppable, finishing the game with a hat trick and an assist. The 6-foot-4, 216-pound senior now has a total of 16 goals and 25 assists through 23 games played this season. His first goal of the evening came just after a minute of play on a shot from the dot, when Hayes gathered a juicy rebound and buried the puck in the top left corner of the net behind Maine goalie Martin Ouellette. His second of the game was at 15:30 in the 3rd period when he walked in on a 2-on-1 with Arnold at his side. This laser shot hit top left corner, to Maine’s second goaltender Dan Sullivan’s short side, putting the Eagles ahead 6-2. He finished off his hat trick approximately two minutes later on a power play.
Bill Arnold supported with a goal and two assists. His goal came at 4:18 in the second period after he received a pass from Scott Savage in the slot and maneuvered the puck through Ouellette’s padding. Hayes described Arnold as being “the best two-way player in the country” after the game, and Arnold’s role on the team speaks for itself as he has delivered nine goals and 24 assists this season.
Though Gaudreau did not score a goal last night, he was part of the overall success of the line, contributing 5 assists. Gaudreau is leading the team with a total of 21 goals and 26 assists and is a Hobey Baker favorite. Gaudreau and Hayes top the list as two of the leading scorers in the country.
Who can stop this trio? Almost nobody. When asked about the line, Maine’s head coach, Red Gendron, succinctly described it as being a “problem for just about everybody in the country.” Gendron is correct, as all three players are nominated for the Hobey Baker Award and have each earned over 100 points during their hockey careers at BC.
What’s More Special Than A Special Team?
A large part of the team’s success is strong special team play. Several Eagles put the team at a disadvantage when they were escorted to the penalty box for various reasons. Overall, the game was extremely physical, totaling16 penalties between the two teams. During the last two minutes of the game, Quinn Smith received a five-minute major for slashing Ryan Lomberg.
The Eagles’ physical mistakes did not seem to affect the overall performance of the team as they were able to shut down the Black Bears during six of the seven penalty kills. Head coach Jerry York commented about how the boys were able to consistently block shots and make numerous clears out of the defensive zone even though at times they struggled to win the loose puck battles.
Goaltender Thatcher Demko played a role in that success as he made 23 saves, keeping all but two shots out of the net, with one of those goals coming on the power play. At one point he was challenged by a 2-on-0, after his defender, Michael Matheson, was knocked down at center ice. He stretched the width of the net and stoned the scoring attempt.
York credits the prosperity of the power play to the fact that BC played unselfishly, working as a unit to score, instead of working to increase individual stats. The team consistently made tape-to-tape diagonal passes that left Maine penalty killers out of position and allowed three more Eagle goals.
Captain Patrick Brown was able to recover from a mild slump. During the second-to-last power play there were several electric passes in front of the net, followed by Gaudreau’s shot that went slightly wide. Brown made a beautiful play, swiftly tapping the puck for a score. He also assisted on a goal during the second period. Scott Savage also played a key role in the victory, with two assists and pinpoint power play feeds.