The Boston College Eagles notched just their third home win of calendar year 2013 last night - but most importantly, they're 1-0 in the part of the season that truly matters. On the strength of a mostly-solid performance, BC beat Vermont 4-2 in Game 1 of the Hockey East quarterfinals to move within one game of a trip to TD Garden next weekend.
For the first 40 minutes, it was hard not to feel very positive - BC didn't necessarily look electric, in an "about to go on a national championship run" sort of way, but they definitely looked solid, and ready for anything Hockey East might throw at them. Brooks Dyroff opened up the scoring in the first period with a sweet snipe. On the strength of three successful penalty kills, BC carried a 1-0 lead into the locker room.
Mike Matheson highlighted his outstanding game with a rocket from the point on the power play at 9:13 of the 2nd to make it 2-0. Cam Spiro then extended the lead to 3-0, scoring his first goal of the season against a team from north of the Mason-Dixon line.
The breathing space evaporated in a third period in which BC struggled to maintain their early momentum. Ben Albertson scored less than five minutes into the period to cut the Vermont deficit to 3-1. Then the Eagles went on a parade to the penalty box, giving Vermont an extended 5-on-3 halfway through the period with a chance to come even closer. BC killed those penalties, but in one of those moments that show the hockey gods' sense of humor, they gave up a shorthanded goal shortly thereafter at 12:37.
BC survived one last big scare when Steve Whitney went to the penalty box with under 5 minutes to play for "charging the goalie." (I'm not saying he didn't charge the goalie, I've just never seen the penalty announced as "charging the goalie" before... odd.) The Eagles killed that penalty, then iced the game with a Gaudreau ENG to seal the 4-2 win.
Vermont at Boston College - Hockey East Quarterfinal Game - 3/15/2013 (via hockeyeastonline)
-Patch Alber returned and looked pretty much up to speed. He got some key time on the penalty kill and looked good making some strong defensive plays.
-Oddly, Travis Jeke lined up as a fourth line forward and Danny Linell remained on defense, even playing some defense on the PK. I don't really understand that one and wonder if York is playing some sort of mind game.
-The Eagles attempted a number of stretch passes in the first couple of periods but were just a little off. I wonder if maybe York saw something on tape from last weekend that showed Vermont as susceptible to those home-run passes.
-It was all about the secondary scoring last night, which is kind of nice to see, because you suspect that with the bright lights on at (hopefully) the Garden next week, Arnold, Gaudreau, Whitney etc. will be notching points.
Elsewhere in Hockey East...
-UMass-Lowell became the first team to punch their ticket to TD Garden, surviving a scare to beat Maine 2-1 in OT and sweep the Black Bears. It was a fitting but inauspicious ending to Maine captain Joey Diamond's career, as the all-time Maine penalty minutes leader went out with a game misconduct for stomping on a Lowell player during the second period. In my eyes, the Riverhawks have firmly established themselves as the favorites next weekend and have a really good chance of going to PIttsburgh.
-BU rolled to an easy win over Merrimack, 3-0, and is now one win (plus a BC win) away from setting up that fated York v. Parker Finale.
-Providence defended their home ice with a 3-2 win over UNH in game 1 of their quarterfinal series.
Tonight, everyone's back at it. Providence-UNH plays at 4 on NESN, while BU and BC go for their attempted sweeps tonight at 7 PM. It'll be a big day of hockey at Conte Forum, as the BC women host Harvard in NCAA quarterfinal action at 1 PM.