Something about the penalty box seems to pull in Boston College men’s hockey like a magnet. After beating the University of New Hampshire 5-3, BC extended its impressive undefeated streak to a total of nine games. Despite their successful season so far, the Eagles need to be mindful of how many times they send a player into the box.
Michael Kim was the first player to skate through the open door, 17:37 into the first period, for interference. The Eagles (9-2-1, 5-0-1 Hockey East) were able to kill the penalty and hold the UNH players at bay until the end of the power play, ending the first period with a 1-0 lead over the Wildcats. J.D. Dudek didn’t take long to follow Kim’s lead, taking a two-minute penalty for delaying the game only 2:11 into the second period. Again, BC killed off the Wildcats (4-4-1, 2-1-0), making sure they couldn’t capitalize on their advantage. The second period ended with neither team scoring on power plays, leaving BC with a 3-1 lead.
BC somehow lost its legs during the third period, with five penalties compared to the Wildcats’ two. Casey Fitzgerald, who had been able to stay out of the box for the first two periods, was sent in five minutes into the period for tripping Brendan van Riemsdyk. BC was again able to hold off the Wildcats, but less than a minute after Fitzgerald came out of the box, Dudek was sent in for the second time for cross-checking. The Wildcats capitalized on their power play with Jason Salvaggio scoring the first power play goal of the night for New Hampshire.
Fitzgerald was sent into the box for the second time along with Justin Fregona for cross-checking after a scuffle in front of the goal, resulting in a four-on-four game. After two penalties Fitzgerald couldn’t stay out of the box, as he was sent in for a third time in the period for holding. BC couldn’t contain the Wildcats, as Matias Cleland scored on the power play, tying up the score and giving New Hampshire a shot at ending the Eagles’ winning streak. After a goal from Dudek robbed them of that opportunity, Jesper Mattila skated into the box for tripping with only 2:46 left in the game, giving the Wildcats another chance to score on a power play.
While the Eagles lost their feet during the third period, there were players who skated fast and able to kill off the power plays. Colin White was constantly there to block shots, and even broke his stick doing so.
“[White] was one of the guys with legs tonight,” assistant head coach Greg Brown said after the game. “He was a great skater, and he can play fast. And he’s a smart player. When he has his legs and when he’s moving like that, he’s going to make a lot of good decisions because he’s a smart player.”
When all players are on the ice, the Eagles look like a well-oiled machine and hard to get through in order to score a point. But when one player gets sent into the box, the cohesive aspect of the team gets lost and the opportunity to score for the other team grossly increases, which can become a problem when the team gets so many penalties.
BC wasn’t alone in its penalties—New Hampshire sent players into the box on four different occasions. But with new rules that make it easier for players to get called, the Eagles need to be careful. A recurring theme throughout the season finds the Eagles taking many more penalties than the other team. As the season progresses they are going to be met with harder opponents, and it’ll be increasingly harder for the team to kill off power plays. With a team that finds itself in the penalty box as often as BC does this season, the team either needs to figure out how to kill off power plays or figure out how to avoid being called.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor