The Fitzgerald brothers combined for three goals and two assists for No. 3 Boston College, but a last-minute goal helped Merrimack College avoid a weekend sweep with a 5-5 tie at Lawler Arena on Saturday night.
The result is somewhat troubling for the Eagles (21-4-5, 12-1-5 Hockey East), who haven’t allowed five goals in a game since their loss to Denver in the NCAA Tournament last year.
In a back-and-forth contest that featured five ties, Casey Fitzgerald reclaimed the lead for BC when he received a pass from his brother and wristed a shot past Warrior goaltender Drew Vogler at 8:11 of the third period. But with just over a minute remaining, Merrimack (8-15-7, 2-9-7) pulled its keeper and used its extra skater to sneak the equalizer past Thatcher Demko with 55 seconds left.
Overtime couldn’t produce a winner in a five-minute stalemate. Nevertheless, the Eagles extended their unbeaten streak to 12 games dating back to 2015—good for best in the country.
Austin Cangelosi opened up the scoring less than three minutes into the match, taking a feed from Miles Wood and providing a top-shelf finish to put BC on top, 1-0. The early scoring trend would continue, as the Eagles scored in the first two and a half minutes of each period on Saturday. But for every BC goal, the Warriors had an answer.
Coming into Saturday’s showdown, the Eagles had played shutout, power-play defense as of late, killing every PP opportunity over their last five games. That streak came to an end against Merrimack, though, as the Warriors scored two straight power-play goals in the second period to take a 3-2 lead against the recently crowned Beanpot champions.
Ryan Fitzgerald scored his second goal of the night, assisted by his younger brother, with five minutes left in the second frame to even the score at 3-all. But just 19 seconds later, Merrimack recaptured the lead when Mathieu Foget took advantage of a 2-on-1 chance and flicked the puck past Demko and into the back of the net for his second goal of the night.
Less than two minutes into the final period, Wood intercepted the puck in Warrior territory and fired off a shot at Volger, who deflected the puck to Adam Gilmour. The junior forward had just served 10 minutes in the penalty box for misconduct, but immediately made his presence known on the ice when he gathered the rebound and poked it past the MC netminder to tie the game once again.
Five minutes later, it was BC’s turn to take advantage of the power play.
After Craig Wyszomirski was tagged with a five-minute penalty for elbowing Matthew Gaudreau, Casey Fitzgerald used a pass from his brother and a convenient screen on the goalie to wrist in the go-ahead goal from deep midway through the third period.
With only seconds remaining, it was Jonathan Lashyn who played hero for the Warriors. Desperate for an equalizer, Merrimack sacrificed an empty net for another attacker in an attempt to blitz BC and force overtime. Lashyn exploited a crowded crease and wristed a deep shot through traffic that found the back of the net. Demko never saw it coming.
The Eagles will travel to Burlington next weekend for a series against Vermont before closing the regular season with a pair of games against UMass Lowell. Postseason play is right around the corner, and while high-scoring affairs may be exciting, BC will certainly need to reemphasize its work on the blue line if it wants to add to its trophy collection.