Boston College men’s hockey has fallen into an inconsistent patch recently. After a 10-game unbeaten streak from mid-October to mid-November, the team has fallen to 3-4-0 over the last few weeks. The No. 4 Eagles were looking to win consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 13 on the road at No. 14 Notre Dame. Yet they once again fell victim to the late-game swoons that have plagued them of late in a 3-2 defeat, the first conference loss they’ve suffered this year.
BC (13-6-1, 8-1-1 Hockey East) dictated the pace early in the game, generating many opportunities against the Fighting Irish (9-6-2, 5-3-1) while keeping the puck away from the goal in the first five minutes. Less than six minutes into the game, BC earned its first power-play opportunity when Irish forward Andrew Oglevie took a penalty for hooking. BC was quick to capitalize, as Christopher Brown took a shot in close and David Cotton buried the rebound—his sixth goal of the season—only 22 seconds after the power play had started.
Notre Dame then looked to reclaim momentum, piling more shots on Joe Woll as the chances became more even for both sides. It looked as though the Irish were about to tie the game when a shot bounced off Woll’s shoulder and trickled across the goal line, but it just barely rolled wide past the post, and BC managed to clear the zone.
BC then was given the opportunity to expand its lead when Luke Ripley was called for hitting from behind. This power play was not as effective as the first, with the Eagles allowing a short-handed chance before generating any chances of their own. Yet they managed to capitalize once again. This time, freshman Julius Mattila sent a pass through heavy traffic in front of Notre Dame’s Cal Petersen in net. The puck was redirected by the stick of a Notre Dame defenseman into the back of the net.
But the Eagles failed to capitalize on the momentum from this goal, allowing Notre Dame to settle the pace of the game and keep the chances close. Not long after scoring on the power play, Cotton was called for interference. The Irish failed to score, but the power play would become the turning point of the game, as Notre Dame generated several close chances.
The Irish continued their barrage of shots after the power play, including one shot that sailed just over Woll, but it hit the crossbar and deflected away. Notre Dame continued to control the pace as the period wound down, but Woll managed to turn away every puck that got through to him. BC finished the period up 2-0, but the game had started to sway in Notre Dame’s direction.
The Eagles came out in the second looking to once again reclaim momentum, but their efforts were squandered when Graham McPhee took a penalty for hooking. The Eagles managed to kill off the penalty again, and soon after were put on the power play. Once again, discipline proved to be a killer for the Eagles. After creating a couple of chances, BC gave up the puck, and Oglevie managed to take it in on Woll. He shot the puck just wide and it bounced off the post, but McPhee was sent to the box again for slashing. This time, the penalty proved fatal for BC. After another onslaught of chances for Notre Dame, Irish forward Anders Bjork found an opening and sniped the puck just over the shoulder of Woll.
The Irish never looked back. A few minutes later, they were put on the power play again when Connor Moore was called for tripping. The Eagles managed to kill it off, and allowed only a few chances toward the end of the penalty. Just when it looked as if the Eagles could settle the game, a loose puck found its way to Oglevie alone in front of the net, and he put it past Woll to tie the game.
BC had another chance to regain control of the game when it was put on the power play once again. Instead of capitalizing on the opportunity, the Eagles turned the puck over to Bjork, who skated in alone and shot the puck over the shoulder of Woll to give the Irish their first lead of the game.
The Eagles failed to come out with enough intensity in the third, routinely their weakest period of the game. BC created a few moments of sustained pressure at the end of the frame. On one play, it looked as though the Eagles were about to send it to overtime as Cotton tried to bury a puck that had been sent across the crease. But Petersen made a sprawling blocker save to keep the puck out of the net with one minute left.
The Eagles pulled Woll to try to tie the game, but they failed to create any significant chances before the final horn. The 3-2 loss was BC’s first in Hockey East this season, and another sign of its struggles with consistency. This may have been a disappointing note on which to end the first half of the season, but the Eagles will have to learn from it. They will need to rediscover the consistency they had in October and November in order to stay at the top of Hockey East in the second half.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor