Notebook: Ironically, More Shots Means Fewer Goals for Eagles

On Friday night, Hockey East got turned upside down at TD Garden. Not only did both semifinal underdogs prevail, but they did so in unique fashion. Despite outshooting Boston College men’s Hockey, 27-12, through two periods, it took overtime for the Terriers to put the game away, doing so while getting significantly outshot themselves. The 4-3 overtime win for BU prevents BC from collecting the Hockey East Tournament crown for a sixth-straight season.

Three Up

1) Hot Start

Just looking at the shot chart after the first period, it would’ve been impossible to know that No. 15 BC (20-14-3, 18-7-0 Hockey East) held a 1-0 lead. In fact, if you got to the game just a minute after it had started, you would have missed all of the first period action the Eagles’ offense had to offer. Although BC had just five of the 18 shots taken between the two teams through the first 20 minutes of play, it was only the first one that mattered. Connor Moore stunned just about everyone in TD Garden with his wrist shot from the blue line just 46 seconds into the game that somehow squeaked past Jake Oettinger.

BU (20-13-4, 13-8-4) would go on to record 13 shots on goal during the period, but most were the result of pucks being loosely thrown at the net, and most importantly, none went in. The Terriers were, by definition, playing from behind, and it showed on the ice. Even though BU finished with nearly three times as many shots in the period, it still found itself looking up at the Eagles. BC’s defensive perseverance may have let up at times throughout the rest of the contest, but starting the second period with the lead certainly wasn’t the issue.

2) Great Woll of Boston

How can you keep a game close when an opponent doubles your shot total through two periods? For BC, the answer was goaltender Joseph Woll. The sophomore made 25 saves through two periods and had the biggest impact on the game of any player. Manning the net for over 75 minutes against one of the premier teams in Hockey East is no easy task, and credit Woll for amassing a save percentage of .911 percent by the game’s end.  

Seventeen different players took at least one shot for BU over the course of the game, with slapshots, wristers, and one-timers coming from everywhere on the ice. While the majority of Oettinger’s saves came from the low slot, Woll faced a balanced diet of 19  shots from beyond the faceoff circle and 26 shots within it. The lefthander was constantly forced to adjust his approach, making saves with his glove, his stick, and even with his own body in a sprawled out position on more than one occasion.

3) Tempers Flaring

In the third matchup between the Commonwealth Avenue rivals this season, players finally reached their boiling points. As tension rose, defensemen and forwards alike were hit with roughing, slashing, cross-checking, and embellishment penalties. The difference was that all but one of these calls went against BU. Perhaps it was built up frustration coming from a lack of early goal scoring, but nonetheless the Terriers were their own worst enemy when they let their emotions get in the way of the game. Overall, BC was able to go up on the power play a total of four times due to undisciplined play from BU, and while they weren’t able to cash in directly with the advantage, the Eagles did score one of their goals in a four-on-four scenario and another immediately after a power play had ended. 

Brady Tkachuk accounted for the brunt of his team’s undisciplined play. Beyond the roughing and cross-checking penalties he received, the 6-foot-3 freshman often instigated lots of the chippy play observed on the ice. On three separate occasions in regulation, Tkachuk and a BC skater were seen going at it after the whistle, and his attitude did not appear to positively influence his teammates.  

Three Down

1) Falling Apart

While the Eagles were able to take the first lead of the game in the blink of an eye, the Terriers were able to get back into the game just as quickly. A momentary lapse in the second period by BC allowed BU to close its two-score gap entirely. A goal for the Terriers seemed inevitable after accumulating so many shots, and they got multiple in the span of just two minutes.

The thing was, the two shots from Ty Amonte and David Farrance that found the net for BU were neither well calculated nor well struck. The two had combined for just 14 points entering the game and didn’t have to do anything special to find the net. A slow-developing Eagles transition defense was the difference over two even strength minutes, as BC’s backline was outskated to the puck for two fastbreak goals.

2) Absence of Youth

Throughout the entire season, Jerry York has been able to rely of his younger players to win games. The freshman combination of Logan Hutsko, Jacob Tortora, and Christopher Grando has dominated all season with a combined 62 points, but Friday night it didn’t log a single one. The only first-year player to tally a point was Aapeli Räsänen, who recorded an assist on Moore’s quick strike.

From there, Tortora and Hutsko were the only freshman Eagles to launch a shot on net. While Hutsko recorded a game-high eight shots, he also had the lowest plus/minus of any player and was not on the ice for a single one of his team’s goals. Meanwhile, Tortora’s lone shot came from an improbable angle on the far side of the boards in overtime, and BU would go on to score just minutes later.    

3) Up All Night to Get Unlucky

If there’s one thing to be learned from this game it’s that shot total rarely ever tells the tale of a game. In the nearly 16 minutes of overtime that were played, it seemed like BC needed just one more offensive rush to put the game away. In fact, the Eagles recorded 14 shots during the shortened extra frame, more than they had recorded in any of the previous three periods, and doubled the Terriers’ shot total. Hutsko, who had scored incredibly clutch goals for his team all season, had four shots alone in overtime, more than half as many as BU’s entire team.

Yet as the UMBC Retrievers would go on to prove later that night against Virginia—history often fails to repeat itself in the most unexpected ways. In the blink of an eye, a frantic and well-contested shot from Shane Bowers in front of the net resulted in a rebound chance for Patrick Curry. For Curry—who had recorded just one shot in the entire game up to that point— it was simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and as a result BC was sent home wondering how its improved play in overtime could have possibly produced lesser results.

Featured Image Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor