In a convincing restoration of normal service, the Boston College Eagles turned the table on Northeastern, beating the Huskies 3-0 on Banner Night at Conte Forum. At times, BC looked electric; at other times, they seemed to be cruising. But one thing was consistent throughout - the Eagles were in complete control of the game.
Parker Milner stopped 26 Northeastern shots to pick up his first shutout of the season, while Johnny Gaudreau notched first star honors with a goal and an assist.
-- Prior to puck drop, BC raised the 2012 National Championship banner with the assistance of honored guests from the 1949, 2001, 2008 and 2010 teams. Noteworthy returnees included Len Ceglarski, Brooks Orpik, Nate Gerbe, and Matt Price.
-- #GaudreaubeyBaker had another fantastic game and appears to only be getting better. His goal was a summation of his gifts - lightning speed to burn past the Northeastern defense, incredible puck control to keep the puck while being pursued, and the poise and accuracy to slot one past Rawlings and put BC up 2-0 halfway through the first period. It's gotten to the point where you feel like getting out of your seat every time Gaudreau touches the puck - a gift that only Gerbe and Brian Gionta possessed at BC for as far as my memory goes back.
-- Steve Whitney notched his second power play goal of the year, which much like last week's goal at Matthews was a laser of a slap shot off a pass by Gaudreau. If his play on the point on the man advantage continues to be a weapon, it will free up space for Gaudreau to do more damage down low.
-- Special teams was a strong suit again for the Eagles tonight. BC went 2-for-6 on the power play and killed off all eight of NU's power play opportunities. The BC penalty kill is now 17-of-18 on the season. Kevin Hayes' power play goal at 6:16 of the first period opened the scoring and proved to be the game winner.
-- The most impressive and important takeaway from tonight's game was that the defense played a clean game, not only keeping the Huskies off the scoreboard but also preventing them from having many threatening opportunities. While the young defense corps has shown flashes in the early going, they also appeared to be a bit leaky in the first two games. Not so tonight. Matheson in particular made several outstanding plays to break up potential NU chances (although he also spent another four minutes in the penalty box).
-- Speaking of the penalty box, old friend Vinny Saponari spent ten minutes there in the third period after picking up a misconduct. Something tells me this will be commented on further during next week's Hockey Banter.
-- I found tonight's game to be another example of really frustrating Hockey East officiating - both sides, I think, were victimized by over-zealous penalty calls on what appeared to be good, clean, hard hits. There's a case to be made for removing hard hitting from the game, but I haven't really heard anyone make it yet, so to see those calls puzzles me. On the other hand, Gaudreau took what appeared to be an elbow to the head late in the third but the referee either didn't see it or decided to look the other way.
-- Brad Bates was in the house, spending time with some of the visiting hockey alumni in one of the Conte suites. While there's a lot to be said for how lucky we were that Gene left the hockey program alone, it was refreshing to see an athletic director present for a big game for our school's most successful sports team. Bates got a look right away at one of his biggest challenges -- the ice was soft and had numerous puddles throughout the game. Let's hope he follows through on the plans to add AC to Conte in the summer.
-- BU lost to UNH tonight 4-1. (Sad trombone.) And Maine got swept by St. Lawrence at home, dropping tonight's game 5-1. Ouch.
-- BC improved to 14-0-0 in their gold jerseys, which continue to be awesome (or maybe I just think so because I'm comparing them to those terrible white Under Armour jerseys). As much as I like these jerseys I'm hoping they go into storage for a little bit, maybe coming back out when York is going for the all-time win record.
-- The Eagles return to action next weekend with a home-and-home with UMass-Lowell, traveling to the Merrimack Valley on Friday night before hosting UML on Sunday at 4.