BOSTON — Last season, Boston College men’s hockey was the toast of the town. With a dominant offense and powerful defense led by future NHL stars—not to mention Mike Richter Award winner Thatcher Demko in net—BC began its march to a 25th Frozen Four appearance in the Beanpot Tournament. Against archrival Boston University, the Eagles won a thrilling overtime game with a goal by Alex Tuch, the first 1-0 final in the tournament’s then-64-year history.
Now, only one year later, the Eagles are on the bottom. It’s a place they haven’t been since Jerry York became the head coach.
For the first time since 1993, BC finished last in the Beanpot, a 4-2 defeat to Northeastern. But it wasn’t without immense controversy.
Tied at two with 73 seconds left, the Eagles (18-12-2, 13-4-1 Hockey East) led a bull rush toward the Northeastern (13-12-5, 6-9-3) end of the ice. After multiple attempts on Ryan Ruck in goal, the Eagles pushed the puck out to David Cotton on the left side. With two swings, Cotton forced it into the net for what appeared to be a go-ahead goal. Immediately, Cotton, who had scored in the first period from the left circle on a sharp angle, began to celebrate with his linemates as BC prepared to escape from a game in which it had again been outplayed in the first two periods.
But Northeastern’s Jim Madigan wasn’t convinced.
“As the goal was scored, I was calling for interference,” Madigan said. “It was clear from my vantage point.”
The boys in black and white agreed with the Huskies’ brash, sometimes profanity-laden head coach. After about two minutes of review, the referees waved it off. They determined that Ruck had been interfered with by a BC forward, forcing him out of position to allow Cotton to score.
After the game, the normally mild-mannered York expressed his discontent that the referees believed his player interfered with Ruck—rather, he believes that a forward was pushed into Ruck by one of Northeastern’s defenders, and was therefore not a cause to call back the goal. Though he often strays away from contentious topics, York did not hold back from his opinion of the referees’ determination.
“I think we had a winning goal and now we’re going to do 5-on-6 to defend for the last minute or so of the game,” York said. “Now, my view is different from the referees’ view. Clearly different. I watched the tape, I watched the video, and that’s my view. But I don’t have a whistle as a referee. Do I agree with it? Absolutely not. But it’s their call, it’s not my call. It’s really frustrating that we’re preparing our team to defend and we get it called back on us.”
Coming back from a 2-1 deficit with seven minutes to go, White got the equalizer BC needed with a tip-in on Ruck’s right after a great find by Casey Fitzgerald. But after the Cotton overturn, the Eagles lost all of the momentum they had in the frame.
Less than 30 seconds later, the Huskies dashed down the ice toward BC’s Joseph Woll on a breakaway. With no defenders back to hold down the middle of the ice, Zach Aston-Reese found Dylan Sikura ready and right in front of Woll. He converted on one of only four shots the Huskies had on Woll in the period for the game-winning, back-breaking goal. For Madigan, it was no surprise.
“He has a penchant for scoring big goals in big games,” Madigan said of Sikura, a junior from Aurora, Ontario.
Seconds after drawing up a play to defend an extra attacker with the empty net, the Eagles had to develop one of their own. But only one second after Woll left the net, Scott Savage turned the puck over, right to Adam Gaudette. The sophomore calmly skated down the ice to push the puck in for an empty-net goal.
For York, the frustration was more than just for how his team lost. After rising as high as seventh in the PairWise Rankings, the Eagles have fallen to tied with Cornell for 13th after a three-game losing streak. To make matters worse, there’s only four games remaining in the regular season, all of which come against ranked, in-conference opponents (No. 16 Vermont, No. 6 Massachusetts Lowell). Though they still outpace BU by three points in Hockey East, their backs are against the boards. And if York wants Trophy Season to have some happy endings, he’ll need to find answers as soon as possible.
“There’s a lot to learn by a loss like that,” York said. “Now we have to go chase a regular-season title. Do we have to improve in different areas? Absolutely. But they’re all on board with that already.”
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor