Like most defensemen, Ian McCoshen earned his reputation for hard hits and a take-no-prisoners attitude on the ice. When he wasn’t in the penalty box last season, he was engaging in fights, as seen here against Providence College last season—he’s the one on the right, mid-brawl with a Friar. But after Boston College men’s hockey lost its two best blue liners—Noah Hanifin and Mike Matheson—to the NHL last season, head coach Jerry York needed McCoshen, the highly-touted Florida Panthers’ prospect, to step up as both a leader and a player.
On Friday night against Boston University, McCoshen showed why, with each game, he is making a case as the best all-around player on an incredibly talented 2015-16 BC squad.
Thanks to McCoshen’s three points—two goals and an assist—the No. 4 Eagles (15-4-2, 8-1-2 Hockey East) took down No. 10 BU (11-7-3, 5-4-2) in the 268th meeting of this historic rivalry, lovingly referred to as the Battle of Comm. Ave. With the victory, York increases his career win total to 999.
But in the first period, it didn’t look like the Eagles were going to inch York closer to magical No. 1,000. As an entire unit, BC looked slow and sloppy in the game’s first 20 minutes. The team’s forwards had a lot of trouble keeping the puck in the offensive zone, playing a round of ping pong with the Terriers near the BC logo at center ice. The Eagles got an opportunity early in the period to take a lead after Matt Lane was called for a slash, but Colin White whiffed on an easy cross-ice pass. White would miss on a breakaway later in the period.
The Terriers held the momentum for much of the first, taking advantage of penalties by BC, one of which led to a goal. Steve Santini’s boarding call—a hit that could have easily been avoided—allowed BU star freshman Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson to notch his sixth goal of the season.
As the second period hit, the Eagles nearly reclaimed the energy for good. Santini was called for another penalty only 39 seconds into the frame, but Austin Cangelosi goaded the zebras into awarding him a penalty shot. The junior treated the puck like a hot potato, deking left-right-left-right-left-right enough times to make BU goalie Sean Maguire contract vertigo. His equalizer was the first penalty goal made by the Eagles since current New York Rangers’ star Chris Kreider notched one against the University of Notre Dame on Nov. 18, 2011.
— Jim Kent (@kent_j23) January 16, 2016
They wouldn’t hold onto it for long. Ahti Oksanen answered 17 seconds later, leading a bull rush at BC goalie Thatcher Demko, who had returned from an upper body injury. Oksanen’s sliding shot past Demko’s left pad put BU back on top, 2-1.
But the rest of the period was all BC. Zach Sanford rocketed a shot off the boards and collected his own rebound with a beautiful backhander past a screened Maguire’s left shoulder to knot the game up at two. Then the Terriers turned in their own dose of sloppy play, earning several penalties in a row, including one that gave BC a 5-on-3 for a brief period.
Terrier head coach David Quinn noticed his team’s clumsy play, making a point of it after the game.
White avenged himself by taking advantage of BU captain Matt Grzelyck’s tripping penalty, swallowing a gorgeous pass from Casey Fitzgerald to put BC in front late in the second. (McCoshen tallied the secondary assist on White’s goal.)
Bardown for future Sen Colin White. Sweet dish Casey Firzgerald. 3-2 BC https://t.co/AsKbnxZWNy
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) January 16, 2016
In the third period, we saw a good ol’ fashioned dogfight, courtesy of the most hated rivals in college hockey. The Terriers kept a lot of pressure on Demko by consistently breaking away from the pack on 2-on-1s. But McCoshen was always there. He expertly used his body and stick to poke away would-be goals from oncoming BU players.
“He was a man playing tonight,” York said of his star defenseman, giving him a telling look and a pat on the back.
It almost wasn’t enough. With under five minutes to go, the Terriers capitalized on Michael Kim’s goaltender interference penalty. BU’s Charlie McAvoy and Bobo Carpenter—brother of BC women’s hockey captain Alex Carpenter—sent two hard shots in on Demko. One deflected off his pads, ricocheting over his head before Matt Lane tipped it in to tie the game 3-all.
Despite whatever difficulties you may have had on your TV at home, the show then flipped from the Battle of Comm. Ave. to the Ian McCoshen Hockey Hour.
With Miles Wood camped in front of the net, waiting for the screen, McCoshen converted on a penalty of Carpenter’s. He fired a laser from the point that rattled both the water bottle atop Maguire’s net and the entirety of Kelley Rink, giving BC a 4-3 lead with a mere two minutes remaining.
Future Panther is a strong DMan with a heavy shot. 4-3 BC https://t.co/Fp3BTGL2Hb
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) January 16, 2016
He wasn’t done just yet. Quinn pulled the goaltender with 1:30 to go to give the Terriers the 6-on-5 advantage. The Eagles desperately tried to clear the puck and battled constantly to keep pressure away from their goaltender. With 13 seconds to go, McCoshen corralled the puck in the corner, attempting to pass it off to Cangelosi for the easy empty-netter. But instead, McCoshen fired it the length of the ice and at the back of the twine, sending the BC faithful into a frenzy, the victory now insured. McCoshen could only laugh as he reflected on the goal afterward.
“It was like a Rory McIlroy chip shot,” McCoshen said, referring to the world-renowned golfer.
It’s just a microcosm of the success McCoshen has had all season. The junior has made excellent progress over his three years at BC, and now has a career 41 points in 92 games. As most BC players do in postgame pressers, McCoshen focused on the importance of the team and getting the win over individual accomplishments.
He has good reason to do so, too. The Eagles have desperately needed “big wins” to boost their PairWise Ranking—this victory allowed them to leapfrog the Terriers into the No. 9 spot.
But his coach, who was deflecting praise and excitement for his own individual accomplishment, wouldn’t let McCoshen get off so easy.
“Everyone knew exactly when No. 3 was on the ice,” York said.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor