#1 Boston College 5, #3 New Hampshire 2: Johnny Hockey Returns, Eagles Soar Over UNH

Photo: Amy Blenk

With the return of the best player in collegiate hockey to the Eagles' top line, BC easily handled the UNH Wildcats at Conte Forum.

After lackluster showings over the last few games, Boston College put in one of its best efforts of the season in a 5-2 domination of the UNH Wildcats last night.

Believe it or not (I certainly almost forgot), BC actually trailed 1-0 in this one before putting together five unanswered goals in the first two periods to put the game completely out of reach.

With the 8-1 whoopin' handed down to us by Minnesota only partially wiped from our memory by a fortunate tie against Yale last week, tensions have been running high. Missing the best playing in college hockey will certainly hurt your efforts, but would getting him back really be enough to sufficiently turn things around?

The answer, at least so far, appears to be a resounding "Yes." With Johnny Gaudreau back on the ice, the offense was back to its usual self and, the first line especially, of course, appeared to have not missed a beat.

#JohnnyHockey or #GaudreaubeyBaker or whatever you want to call him picked up right where he left off, creating plays everywhere, showing his usual "flash n' dangle" style, passing the puck through traffic to teammates just waiting for a tap in. He was the number one star of the game, picking up another goal, the game winner -- his NCAA-leading sixth of the season -- and two assists to further distance himself from the rest of college hockey in the points per game category with an honestly astonishing 1.73 PPG.

Milner played an absolutely excellent game in net, and the defense really did a nice job tightening up after the debacle in Minnesota and sleepwalking effort against the Elis, but the story of this game was all Johnny Gaudreau. It is time for us to recognize just how important Gaudreau is to this team.

For better or for worse, as Johnny goes, the Eagles go, and that was the case with the US national team up at World Juniors. I tweeted during the game that while there are still several months to go and a whole lot of hockey to be played between now and the crowning of the 2013 Hobey Baker award winner, it is crystal clear who the most valuable player in college hockey is. The Eagles looked lost without him the last few weeks.

Now, we move on to game 2 of the weekend tonight against these same UNH Wildcats, who play much tougher at home. At a minimum, the weekend has already been salvaged, as BC has already guaranteed two points against the 2nd best team in the conference. But another dominating effort, on the road, could make a very strong statement going into a second half that is chock full of games against the Vermonts and Providences and Merrimacks of the world, where simply taking care of business would be enough to lock up the #1 overall seed.

The importance of tonight's game, after the win last night, cannot be overstated. Other than the Beanpot, this is the Eagles' last chance to make a statement against a quality opponent. A loss and we're wondering where we are as a team. Lots of questions left unanswered going into the soft part of the schedule where meaningful answers are hard to come by. But a win, and a modest two-game winning streak against an elite opponent, sets the stage for another trademark Eagle run into trophy season.

BC @ UNH is tonight at 7pm.

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