Fans of the Maine Black Bears came to Alford Arena in full force for their team’s contest against Boston College men’s hockey on Saturday night. The sold-out rink was consumed by a loud crowd that shook the stadium as the opening puck first dropped, but it didn’t take long for the Eagles to silence them. The Black Bears proved to be no match for BC—even on their home ice—and by the time the final horn sounded, the Eagles had scored at least one goal in each period on their way to a 5-0 shutout victory—goaltender Joseph Woll’s first blanking of the season.
The scoring started quickly for the No. 19 Eagles (16-13-3, 16-5-0 Hockey East). Less than three minutes into the game, BC found itself in the offensive zone with possession, while the No. 21 Black Bears (16-12-4, 10-9-3) hastily worked their way into a defensive set. It wasn’t long before Casey Fitzgerald got control of the puck and fired a wide-open wrister from the point. The shot sliced by Jeremy Swayman—who was never able to see the shot thanks to a screen from Zach Walker—and wrapped around the net, giving BC the early lead.
Just seven minutes later, the Eagles were at it again. Julius Matilla decisively won a defensive zone faceoff, springing BC quickly up the ice and, from behind the Black Bears’ net, the puck was passed to David Cotton. The sophomore launched a shot that was initially blocked before being redirected to Matilla, who finished what he had started by firing the puck straight back into the net.
The rest of the period remained scoreless, in large part due to the play of Woll. The Eagles’ goaltender had an astounding 16 saves in the opening frame. Woll was seen diving across his net to stop shots, including a couple of 3-on-1 chances that were byproducts of nothing more than poor puck control. The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect shut down the Black Bears in the second as well, and his dominant performance was just what the Eagles’ needed to see from their netminder, considering the team had allowed an average of 3.4 goals per game in its previous five contests.
Both teams got their fair share of chances in the second period, but Walker ended up being the only one able to capitalize. As Ron Greco worked the puck behind the net, Walker sprinted into the slot looking for action. He was able to launch a one-timer top-shelf into the net, almost startling Swayman. With a 3-0 lead going into the second intermission, the Eagles had silenced the once-energetic Maine audience.
The red-hot Logan Hutsko got things going in the third period, scoring a goal just 18 seconds into the third period against the defeated Black Bears squad. Hutsko crossed the blue line himself and fired a missile from the top of the right circle that squeezed by Swayman’s blocker, leading head coach Red Gendron to relieve the starter of his duties in favor of backup Rob McGovern.
Amazingly, it wasn’t until over four minutes had passed in the third period that the game’s first penalty was called. A slash on Fitzgerald put Maine on the man-advantage, but even then the Eagles were able to keep the Black Bears off the scoreboard and get some shot opportunities of their own, shorthanded.
Other than a brief fight between Tim Doherty and Michael Karow with four minutes left, the rest of the game went smoothly for the Eagles. BC’s Graham McPhee tallied an empty-netter with two minutes to go to seal the deal.
The win is just the start of BC’s three-game series with Maine—one that closes out the year. WIth two more matchups against the Black Bears at Conte Forum next week, there is no reason why the Eagles can’t finish out the season slate with four more points. Both Northeastern and Providence won their respective games as well Saturday night, meaning the Eagles will have to wait a bit longer to clinch their third-consecutive Hockey East regular season title.
Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor