An alien would have known that Saturday night’s tilt between Boston College and the University of New Brunswick was an exhibition. Both teams had too many penalties and blew a ton of defensive coverages. BC captain Michael Matheson and forward Destry Straight each came up lame at different points, but BC got what it wanted most out of Saturday: no injuries.
“I think that was a good hockey game for both of us,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “It’s early in the season for the Reds and for ourselves. It was a good pace to the game. I was particularly pleased with some of our young players and how they played.”
The biggest pluses came from three young players on the same line: sophomores Adam Gilmour and Chris Calnan, and freshman Alex Tuch. Each over 6-foot-2, the triumvirate dominated throughout the game by matching size and skill to hem UNB in its zone whenever they were on the ice.
Gilmour fired a first period pass through the slot to no one—and that was the last time the big guys were out of sync. Their collective chemistry produced two second-period goals from Tuch, the biggest of the bigs at 6-foot-4.
“For real early in the season, I thought they played well together,” York said. “I think all three benefited from good play from each other.”
About five minutes into the second, York rolled out the trio on his first power play unit. Gilmour, working the left half wall, fed Tuch, who was posting up along the left post. In one motion, Tuch took the pass and brought it to his forehand side, sweeping the puck across the crease and depositing it for his first BC goal before UNB goalie David Shatnz could recover.
“The power play, when [Alex] got where he stepped across the goalie, that was a pretty impressive goal for a young kid,” York said.
Later in the period, Calnan took a feed from Gilmour, his former high school teammate, at the UNB blueline and redirected it right to Tuch. Tuch beat the defense before he got the puck, and sailed into the slot unencumbered, eventually ripping the top-shelf twine.
“[Tuch]’s gonna be a really good player,” York said. “Minnesota drafted him in the first round for some reasons. He’s big and he’s smart. He’s gonna be a good player for us.”
Despite getting out attempted by UNB and giving up several breakaways, BC increased its lead in the second on the backs of Tuch and goalie Brad Barone. Starter Thatcher Demko, Brian Billett, and Barone each got a period of playing time—Barone faced the biggest onslaught, but rose up to a rare challenge. Barone stoned UNB forward Peter Trainor twice on an early breakaway, and only let up a power play goal during his service time.
Billett let up two goals in the third on six shots, including a soft, five-hole backhander from point blank range. York and his staff will rely on Demko when it matters—that much is evident after last season—but they have yet to establish a clear top line. Gilmour, Tuch and Calnan looked as much like a first line as any trio could in exhibition season—but that season is over.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor