It’s impossible to understate the importance of Saturday night’s matchup between Boston College men’s hockey and Boston University. As one of the deepest rivalries in Beantown, the preview to February’s Beanpot tournament opener was a make or break for both No. 5 BC (14-5, 8-3 Hockey East) and BU (7-7-5, 4-3-4). After a game that came down to the final seconds, the Eagles walked away ahead of the Terriers in front of a sold-out crowd, 4-3.
The Terriers felt the pressure of the game and were consequently called on the first penalty of the evening for having too many players on the ice. The Eagles lead Hockey East and rank third nationally in power play percentage at 28.6 percent, but despite the advantage, the Eagles narrowly missed their scoring opportunities in the first man advantage.
Despite the physical back-and-forth play, BC was creating more scoring opportunities than the Terriers, who were having a hard time cracking the Eagles’ defense.
“This is an easy game for us to get up for. It’s a big rivalry game,” said the Eagles’ Logan Hutsko. “We brought a lot of energy, and feeding off each other helps a ton. We have such a great bond and locker room, and we’re all rooting for each other.”
It looked as though the Eagles were going to secure an early lead when Alex Newhook pulled away from his defender. Goaltender Sam Tucker jumped on the puck to stop the play, robbing the freshman of a goal.
The Eagles responded quickly. In a sequence that mirrored Newhook’s, Logan Hutsko pulled away from BU’s defense. He successfully faked out Tucker, lighting the lamp to put the Eagles on the board.
The Eagles then gained a second power play when Logan Cockerill collided with Hustko, a hit that the junior needed a moment to shake off. The Terriers killed off their second penalty, keeping the Eagles to a one-goal lead.
Shortly after the game returned to full strength, Patrick Harper ripped a shot through traffic and through Spencer Knight’s legs, equalizing the score, but BC quickly regained its lead. Mike Hardman proved why the third line is just as deadly as the first with a wrap around shot that Tucker couldn’t see, and the Eagles headed into the locker room with a single-score lead in place.
Extracurricular activity from Wilmer Skoog put the Terriers in the box for the third consecutive time, forcing them to open the second period a player short. While the Eagles created a multitude of scoring opportunities for themselves, the Terriers escaped their third penalty unscathed.
BC was hit with its first penalty of the night when Hardman was called for tripping, and after two minutes of constant action from the Terriers, the Eagles very narrowly escaped an equalizer.
Throughout the season, the shots that have been the most deadly to Knight are the ones he can’t see clearly. Halfway through the period, BU capitalized on that. Patrick Curry took advantage of traffic in front of the Darien, Conn. native, once again closing the gap between BC and BU.
Late in the period, the Eagles were again in the dog house. Drew Helleson was called for tripping in the Eagles’ territory, giving BU the opportunity to secure its first lead. But for the second time of the night, the Eagles came away unharmed. Seconds later, the Terriers were the ones being called, following a hard hit by Sam Stevens, leaving BU to start the final frame much like the second: a player down.
The Eagles settled in around Tucker in the opening minutes of the frame. While unable to convert on their power play, it didn’t take long for their top line to make itself known. With a pass from David Cotton, Hutsko whipped a shot past Tucker, pulling ahead once again.
Following Hutsko’s goal, the Eagles were immediately called for checking in the offensive, putting pressure on BC’s defense. Patrick Curry capitalized within the first minutes of Graham McPhee’s penalty, tying up the game for the third time.
With just over five minutes left, BC’s first line struck again. Julius Mattila picked up a pass from Cotton in the circle and made his way through his defenders to look for Hutsko. He didn’t get the chance, because his pass deflected off David Farrance’s back and past Tucker, putting the Eagles ahead of the Terriers once again.
BC closed out the frame a player down after a call on Ben Finkelstein for checking. After BU pulled Tucker, the Eagles’ defense was given its toughest challenge of the night—but it was ready for it. BC killed the 4-on-6 to close out the game ahead its Comm. Ave rivals.
For head coach Jerry York, this matchup is a special one for both the team and the fans.
“It was a fun game to coach,” said York. “The players are so excited, on both teams. It’s a must-see for a hockey fan at every level, to see BC and BU play.”
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Editor