The Wildcats earned a split of the weekend series, with the help of undisciplined play by BC and crazy officiating.
Last night was one of those games that had so many aggravating moments that I had brainfreeze for most of the car ride home. I had a list of topics rattling around in my head, and Grant Salzano was nice enough to let me handle this recap so I could get them out of my head and on to paper (or the internet, or whatever).
First, a quick recap: UNH beat BC 2-1 last night at the Whittemore Center, and outshot BC 39-23. The first period was a free-flowing, tight checking battle, with both teams not allowing many great chances and with very few whistles interrupting what was developing in to a very entertaining flow; the teams entered the locker room scoreless.
The game remained scoreless until late in the second period, when a string of ridiculousness happened. Colin Sullivan took a hooking penalty at 7:09, forcing BC on to the penalty kill; they survived that, only to see Mike Matheson go straight in to the penalty box shortly thereafter for hitting from behind. (Matheson had already been penalized earlier in the first period for delay of game, for pretty blatantly knocking the net off its moorings during a UNH opportunity.)
The Eagles had an excellent penalty kill in which UNH generated very little pressure; then on Matheson's way out of the box -- literally steps from the penalty box -- he decked UNH's Kevin Goumas up high and was shown the door for 5 minutes and a game misconduct. Three minutes in to that kill, Goumas did his best Cristiano Ronaldo impression and did a Superman leap after being barely touched by Kevin Hayes, earning UNH a 5-on-3.
BC managed to survive all of this penalty killing, but they were clearly worn out, and surrendered a goal seconds after the last penalty expired; Matt Willows scored for the Wildcats with under a minute to play in a period in which UNH outshot BC 21-3 (!).
Frustration continued to mount in the third period as Bunyon and Hansen managed to miss a pair of UNH slashes, one which broke Isaac MacLeod's stick and one chop to Pat Wey's wrist that forced him to the bench shaking his wrist, in noticeable pain. The Eagles managed to tie the game on a Brooks Dyroff blast at 7:57, giving Eagle fans a warm memory on the night as Dyroff earned his way on to the scoresheet. But it honestly felt inevitable that UNH would ultimately score a power play goal to win the game; John Henrion notched the winner with just over 4 minutes to play to turn the lights out on BC.
In the final minutes as BC scrambled for an equalizing goal, there was a moment of controversy as it appeared that Kevin Goumas may have used his hand to either cover up the puck or swipe it out of the crease while BC was buzzing the net, and in fact one of the officials seemed to initially signal a penalty shot. However, upon review and discussion,, they decided not to award one. I didn't really see the play clearly so I have no idea as to whether either call was valid, but it was certainly a fitting end to the day's ref-caused aggravation.
My postgame thoughts:
1) Interestingly, while it certainly felt like we were somewhat outplayed even without the officials' influence, shots on goal in the first and third periods combined were 20-18 BC. It was the 21-3 shot differential in the second period for UNH that gave them their lopsided margin on the game, and that was aided by a long string of power plays. This was a pretty even game, for the most part, though I thought BC looked very worn out toward the end of it.
2) I really hate saying anything negative about a BC player in this space; these guys are amateurs, and they're kids (Get off my lawn!), and they're playing for our school, and on their worst days they've accomplished about a billion percent more than I did as a crappy player whose pinnacle was getting lit up in an intramural league championship game; that being said: Mike Matheson needs to cool it. And fast. We can't have a first-round pick spending half of the game in the penalty box or in the locker room. He's taking multiple penalties a game and has now been ejected in 2 of 3. It's just not okay and there's no need for a lot of the penalties he's been taking. Nick Petrecki was brought to BC in part to be a physical enforcer; Matheson is supposed to be a skill guy who contributes offensively.
2a) Relatedly: Did anyone get the hospital report on Kevin Goumas post-game? Because he certainly looked to be in critical condition while he was writhing in pain trying to earn a 5 minute major when he got hit by Matheson. Oh wait, what's that you say? He was up and fine on the very next shift, reanimated like Frosty the Snowman when you put the hat on him as soon as the officials posted 5 minutes on the scoreboard? You don't say. It was a shameful sell job by Goumas, who was clearly hit up high, but not badly enough to warrant a 5 minute major. Not even close.
And then he doubled it up by taking a swan dive during the power play to send Hayes to the box for "cross checking," giving his team a 5-on-3. Pathetic.
3) Yayyyyy, Brooks Dyroff scored! The denizens of Section OO at Conte have decided to chip in $5 for each Dyroff goal and $1 for each assist to CEO4Teens.com, Dyroff's charity. So far we're up to $6 each; feel free to join in the effort and let me know if you're doing it so we can keep a running tally, then make the donation at the end of the year.
It was a rocket of a shot, too, taking advantage of a bad UNH turnover that left him wide open in front of DeSmith; he made no mistake and rifled it home.
4) Whenever Uncle Grav isn't reffing, Hockey East games tend to be complete clownshoes. I am not actually related to Hockey East ref John Gravallese, but I kind of wish I was, because honestly he does an excellent job keeping games fair and under control. Whenever you get a Hansen involved, ridiculousness ensues, and just forget about some of the other ones who are even worse. I know these guys are part-timers who do other things during the week, so I'm not really bashing on them personally - but it's just frustrating to see a high-end, big game like this marred by terrible calls and non-calls. Some consistency would be nice; everything was a whistle in the second period, then the third period was basically the Wild West.
In addition to all the aggravating missed calls I referred to earlier in the recap, another moment stood out. BC finally got a power play early in the third period which was negated 20 seconds later when Bill Arnold was basically playing the puck and yet was somehow called for "slashing," making it 4-on-4. *head explosion*
5) If you had told me going in to this weekend that we would get a split, I would have been pretty happy with that, as I was pretty fearful that this could be an ugly series with the way BC has been playing lately. I was waffly on my prediction for the home game, and figured the away game would be brutal on the big ice. But ultimately, BC dominated on Friday and was mostly even with UNH on Saturday. The Wildcats are very clearly the other upper-eschelon team in Hockey East, but I think it's pretty clear also that when firing on all cylinders. BC is at least a somewhat better team.
6) This doesn't really fit the theme of my other bulletpoints but: I noticed last night for the first time that the Whittemore Center flies a New Hampshire state flag right next to their American flag in the rafters, which I think is just awesome. Kudos. And their "student section" (I put that in quotes because most people in the UNH "student section" are upwards of 35 years old) waves a New Hampshire state flag as well, which, again, is baller. Well done. I pretty much hate everything else about the Whitt though, not going to lie. Though they do sell Dippin' Dots, which made my girlfriend happy, so that's a plus.
I know at this point we're at tl;dr status. I think I got it all out of my system, though.
Next game for BC is Friday night against UMass - Jerry York Night on the Heights. It should be a festive evening in honor of York's accomplishment, and it's also the start of a stretch in which the schedule softens significantly for BC.
In other frozen-water news, props to the BC women's team who picked up yet another win on Saturday, beating Vermont 7-2 and racking up 60+ shots on the day. With the win, BC remains #3 in the PairWise. They face a huge, huge game this afternoon at 2 PM when they take on #4 Cornell.