After suffering two disappointing losses in one week, Boston College men’s hockey had a chance at redemption when it hosted No. 11 Providence Saturday afternoon. Just eight days after what has been BC’s only win of the spring semester, the Eagles once again bested their Hockey East rivals, 4-1.
Despite the game being moved up three hours due to the snow storm, the Eagles (8-11-2, 8-3-2 Hockey East) and Friars (13-7-4, 6-5-1) drew a large crowd for what head coach Jerry York believes to be his team’s best game of the season.
“The biggest thing is that it would affect the crowd, so we wanted to get people in and out before it really hit us hard,” he said. “I think we had a incredible crowd for pending weather like that. And they saw us in perhaps our best game of the year from my vantage point.”
The game started off with an aggressive tone, as BC’s J.D. Dudek and Providence’s Greg Printz got into a heated discussion before the puck dropped, and both had to be switched out. It didn’t take long for either team to make their presence known, with both taking shots less than a minute into regulation. The aggression from before the puck drop was apparent throughout the period, with both teams exchanging words during stops in play.
The physical play hit an early boiling point when Providence drew the first penalty of the game, with Tyce Thompson called for hooking just three minutes in. It didn’t take long for the Eagles to take advantage of their opportunity. Thompson was sitting for just 12 seconds when Chris Brown struck, deflecting the puck in after Michael Kim took a shot from the blue line that sailed past defenders. The goal was originally called for Kim, but later replay revealed the deft deflection. Soon after, Dudek whipped up a shot of his own, but it was just barely too wide and connected with the post instead, much to the audible frustration from the crowd.
Providence soon had its own advantage, when Graham McPhee was whistled for cross-checking while trying to help Joseph Woll defend the goal. Having only four players on the ice didn’t phase the Eagles, though. It took just 50 seconds for Cotton to swerve past defenders and rip a shot past Hayden Hawkey for a shorthanded goal.
The second period was no less physical than the first, as Providence’s Michael Callahan was called three minutes in for elbowing. Despite multiple shots by Oliver Wahlstrom on the power play, though, the Eagles weren’t able to connect. After returning to full strength, the Friars settled in around Woll, peppering him with a flurry of shots. The veteran goaltender eventually got a chance to breathe—but only because McPhee went back to the box after being called for cross-checking. The Eagles held off Providence throughout the penalty, but one second before he was released, Jason O’Neill collided with Woll and knocked the cage off its stand, resulting in the puck sliding past him. After a review from the referees, the Friars were awarded the goal.
BC extended its lead early on in the third when Chris Grando ripped a shot from the circle past heavy traffic for a third goal for the Eagles. Even with the sizeable lead, BC had cause for concern—it put its special teams to the test after Luke McInnis was called for slashing and Marc McLaughlin was called for tripping just 15 seconds later. Despite being two players down, the Eagles were on the offensive. Shortly after McLaughlin sat, Fitzgerald broke away from his defenders and headed down toward Hawkey, but lost control of the puck at the last minute and couldn’t connect. As McInnis left the box, Brown made his own breakaway attempt, but was caught up to by defenders and failed to connect as well.
The chippiness between the two sides again played a role, with Providence sending another player to the box as Ben Mirageas was caught for hooking. York decided not to take a power play, and instead Brown, who was fouled by Mirageas, took a penalty shot instead. The senior skated confidently toward Hawkey and effortlessly tipped the puck past the goaltender, solidifying BC’s win. For York, the decision to take the penalty shot wasn’t difficult.
“You have a choice. You can take the power play or you can take the penalty shot, but the one who was fouled has to take it.” He explained. “I think [Brown] was excellent on that for us. He’s excellent at deking goaltenders so it was an easy decision for me.”
Despite beating Providence for the second time in eight days, the Friars are the only team the Eagles have bested in 2019. A win over a ranked team should typically inspire plenty of confidence, but in BC’s case, the reaction following this win is one of wariness. After all, the Eagles followed last week’s upset of Providence with successive losses to conference cellar-dwellers in New Hampshire and Maine. So, with a home-and-home against Massachusetts Lowell looming, BC has a chance to redeem last week’s setbacks by actually taking a step forward.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Senior Staff