Coming off yet another blowout win last Saturday night at Massachusetts, No. 5 Boston College men’s hockey made the trip up to Maine for a two-game weekend series against the Black Bears. The Eagles came into the weekend on a hot streak, posting a record of 5-0-1 in their last six contests. While head coach Jerry York didn’t make the trip, as he’s still recovering from his eye surgery last Tuesday, BC wasn’t going to let anything stop its momentum against a struggling Maine squad, capping the weekend off with a sweep.
Saturday night’s game occurred at Maine’s home ice—Alfond Arena in Orono—where the Eagles (8-2-1, 4-0-1 Hockey East) have not won since 2012. Although BC committed an early penalty on David Cotton’s high sticking just 30 seconds into the game, Maine (3-5-2, 0-2-0 Hockey East) struggled tremendously to stay out of the box in the first period, with five penalties, but the Eagles got nothing from those power plays. But BC outshot Maine 22-9 in the first, and didn’t come away completely empty-handed, as Ron Greco tipped one in from Connor Moore and J.D. Dudek to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Although BC continued to pound Maine with shots, goaltender Rob McGovern kept his team in the game with his spectacular play. While McGovern did his part by holding BC to one goal on its first 27 shots, Joe Woll was doing the same for BC. Both teams were flying up and down the ice, but midway through the second, Scott Savage finished off a goal in transition off feeds from Austin Cangelosi and Chris Brown to give BC a 2-0 advantage. As the second period wound down, however, BC found itself running into the same old problem: penalties. With 3:40 left in the period, Ryan Fitzgerald made his way to the box after a hooking call. With 1:45 remaining in the period, Maine appeared to have jammed the puck into the net on the power play, but it was ruled a no goal as the officials had already blown the play dead. The frustration continued to build in Maine’s sellout crowd, but it was quickly eased as Ryan Smith cashed in on the power play nine seconds later. Although BC was dominating the game, especially in shots, with a 31-20 edge, it only had a 2-1 lead after two periods.
Maine appeared to have the momentum heading into the final period. The Eagles found themselves back on the penalty kill after a Casey Fitzgerald holding call. But BC got a huge kill, temporarily halting the Black Bears’ momentum. The Eagles couldn’t get a shot on goal until the 9:01 mark in the period, but it was a big one, as a wide-open Mike Booth ripped one past McGovern to extend the lead to 3-1. Maine took control right back 41 seconds later, as Dane Gibson capitalized on a BC turnover to make it a 3-2 game with under 10 minutes to play. After a grueling third period that saw Maine outshot BC, nine to three, the Eagles held on to beat Maine, 3-2.
“I thought it might be the best start of the year,” associate head coach Greg Brown told uscho.com. “Seemed like we carried that about halfway through the game. They took a penalty towards the end of the second. Once they took that penalty, Maine started to build momentum. We managed the game just enough in the third period to get the win.”
The puck dropped for the opening game of the weekend series at the neutral-site Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine, on Friday night. The Eagles once again found themselves in some trouble in the first period by committing two early penalties. Despite the Eagles’ success early in the season, staying out of the penalty box continues to be an issue for this young BC team. While the Eagles escaped Moore’s slashing penalty on the first penalty kill, the same couldn’t be said for Chris Calnan’s high sticking call.
With just under seven minutes remaining in the first, Maine’s Gibson capitalized on a rebound opportunity on this power play to put the Black Bears up 1-0. While Maine took advantage of BC’s mistakes early on, Gibson’s power-play goal would be one of the few bright spots of the night for the Black Bears. With 3:25 remaining in the first period, the Eagles went on the power play for the first time. Toward the end of the man advantage, Cangelosi buried one in the back of the net from Brown and Cotton to even the score at the end of the period. This goal would be the start of Cangelosi’s big night.
BC again found itself in the penalty box soon after, as Dudek was sent off for goaltender interference just 2:31 into the second period. Maine’s man advantage, however, didn’t matter, as Cangelosi added a shorthanded goal from Michael Kim and Casey Fitzgerald to put the Eagles up 2-1. Cangelosi wasn’t finished. At the end of the second period, following a setup from Moore and Matthew Gaudreau, he finished off the natural hat trick with an even-strength goal, his eighth of the season, to almost single-handedly give BC a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.
Maine continued to have no answers for BC Friday night. The Eagles piled onto their lead in the third on goals by Calnan, Cotton, and Ryan Fitzgerald. The Eagles outshot the Black Bears 33-23 and Joe Woll was steady in net with 22 saves, as BC blew out Maine 6-1.
The Eagles are on fire as they return home for their Tuesday night contest against New Hampshire. BC is 7-0-1 in its last eight games following this weekend sweep of Maine and sits atop the Hockey East standings. Even though the Eagles have been playing very well as of late, there are still glaring holes on special teams. As York soon returns to the bench following his recovery from surgery, he will look to fix those issues and continue the momentum as the Eagles head into the winter against tougher opponents.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Staff