BRIGHTON, Mass. — Over the past few seasons, Boston College men’s hockey has served as an NHL factory. Despite constant roster turnover, head coach Jerry York knew that one guy would always be there: Austin Cangelosi. During his four-year career on the Heights, he led the country in faceoff win percentage twice. To say he was reliable would be an understatement. But now, even Cangelosi is gone.
For the first time years, someone other than the 5-foot-7 center was taking faceoffs in Saturday’s season-opening scrimmage against New Brunswick at Warrior Ice Arena. Early in the first period, that someone was Christopher Brown. Less than four minutes into the game, the junior lined up in the Varsity Reds’ zone. The puck dropped, and Brown won the draw. He scooted the puck out toward the left corner of the rink. David Cotton chased it down and located freshman Jacob Tortora in the middle of the ice. Tortora quickly flicked the puck into the top-left corner of the net, giving the Eagles an early lead.
It was a sign that BC was going to be just fine, even without guys like Cangelosi. The Eagles tacked on three more goals, en route to a 4-2 victory.
Tortora’s goal was infectious. Already up one goal, BC continued to attack on the offensive end. About six minutes into the period, the Eagles were on the break again. Eying a wide-open Ron Greco, freshman Casey Carreau shoveled a pass across the ice. But the puck caught air, forcing Greco to try to volley it mid-flight. The attempt was unsuccessful, but it’d only be a matter of minutes before the Eagles got another scoring chance.
On the left flank, Brown found a lurking Connor Moore in between the circles. The sophomore wound up for a shot, but when he followed through, he ended up missing most of the puck. It drifted toward the net and a scrum for possession commenced. Out of nowhere, Cotton charged the crowd and pushed the puck into the back of the net.
A few minutes later, New Brunswick’s Marcus McIvor was called for interference. To make matters worse for the Varsity Reds, Colin Suellentrop was penalized for cross-checking just 40 seconds later. The pair of back-to-back penalties gifted BC with a 5-on-3. But like all of last year, the Eagles struggled to materialize any sort of offense on the power play.
New Brunswick got a power play of its own toward the end of the period, thanks to a Graham McPhee roughing penalty. The Varsity Reds sent four shots BC goaltender Joseph Woll’s way. But the Eagles stood tall on the kill. Carreau and Casey Fitzgerald came up with a block apiece, and Woll was there to make a pair of crucial stops to close out a first-period shutout. That was all York needed to see. Ryan Edquist and Ian Milosz finished the scrimmage in net.
At the end of one, BC was outshooting New Brunswick. That advantage was short lived.
Starting in the second period, New Brunswick bombarded the Eagles’ goalkeepers possession after possession. In the second frame alone, the Varsity Reds outshot BC 17-6. But it didn’t show on the scoreboard.
It only took the Eagles a bit more than a minute to add their two-goal lead. Positioned a few feet in front of the blue line, Jesper Mattila sent a heatseeker directly toward Graham McPhee, who was blocking New Brunswick goalie Ryan Parenteau’s line of vision. McPhee lifted his leg in the air to avoid the shot, and the puck weaseled its way into the cage.
Nearing the four-minute mark, Varsity Reds forward Chris Clapperton railed Luke McInnis against the boards in BC’s zone. Clapperton was booked for a five-minute boarding penalty. But over the course of those five minutes, the Eagles only managed two shots.
Immediately after the penalty, New Brunswick fired back with three-consecutive shots—the last of which should have gone in. Tyler Boland had the puck in open space about 15 feet away from Edquist. But he shanked it left.
In the closing minutes of the second period, the Varsity Reds finally finished on offense. But not without some help from BC. First, Moore was caught slashing, and then 50 seconds later, Michael Kim was called for a high-sticking penalty. With a two-man advantage, Clapperton had enough open space to guide the puck from one end of the ice to other, finding Chris Caissy near the left pipe. As soon as he received the pass, Caissy went far post, cutting the Eagles’ lead to two.
The momentum swung back to BC, just four minutes into the final period of play. J.D. Dudek led Moore with a perfect pass in front of three New Brunswick skaters. The sophomore broke away for a one-on-one with Parenteau. Moore faked right, forcing the Varsity Reds’ keeper to sprawl out. Then, he pulled back and flicked the puck into the left side of the net for the highlight-reel finish.
Eventually, the Eagles offense started to falter. Inaccurate passes halted all offensive production during the latter portion of play. And as a result, New Brunswick caught BC off guard. With less than five minutes in the game, Clapperton scored off of an unassisted wrist shot from the edge of the left zone. But it was too little, too late.
The Eagles held on for the win, marking the third time in the past six seasons that BC has defeated the Varsity Reds in the preseason.
Victory aside, York has to be concerned about BC’s special teams play. Last year, the inability to score on the power play, plagued the Eagles down the stretch. They were much better on the kill though, scoring 11 shorthanded goals—second most in the country—and holding 83.3 percent of the time. Tonight, BC struggled on both fronts.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor