For the last few months, Boston College fans have been cautiously optimistic about its prospects this season. But after tonight's solid 5-2 win over an excellent Providence College team, Eagles fans might be hard-pressed not to get ahead of themselves thinking about bigger things for this team.
Despite having a close score for much of the game, Boston College carried play and had more offensive zone possession than they'd had in quite some time.
And even more importantly, the power play looked amazing. I can't even. Who saw that coming?
BC's first tally wasn't officially on the power play, but as it was scored just two seconds after the offending Friar came out of the box and hadn't yet rejoined the play, it might as well have been.
One of the biggest things that irks me about a bad power play is when guys tend to pass just for the sake of moving the puck around back at the blue line. In this case, we've got all 5 players playing pretty deep. By the time Matheson makes a slick pass back to Hayes, we've got five different Eagles below the top of the faceoff circles.
Matheson did a really good job of selling that he was going to go to the net and got PC's Steven McParland (#15) to bite, leaving Hayes with all kinds of room and all day to decide what to do with the puck.
He could have taken the high percentage shot from the slot but opted to hand the puck over to Johnny Hockey, who buried his one-timer. 1-0 Birds.
Despite outplaying PC for pretty much all of the first period, though, PC would equalize before the period was up. A 1-1 outcome after 1 period against a one of the top teams in the country is perfectly acceptable, but you had the feeling PC was feeling better about the score given how the period went.
If the Friars felt good with the tie, they would really feel good with the lead. Just past the halfway point in the game, PC rode a wave of good pressure to a 2-1 lead, and the momentum turned dramatically. After feeling like they had the run of play for much of the game, the Eagles were suddenly behind.
But we had more of that power play magic to save the day.
Goal #2 (PPG) -- 16:37 of the 2nd period: Bill Arnold (John Gaudreau, Michael Matheson)
BC 2, PC 2
We've got more of that good play down low on the man advantage.
Get Gaudreau the puck and good things are going to happen. And that's just what Matheson (who very quietly put together a 3 assist day) does. Gillies is probably a bit further out than he would have liked, looking back at things, and all this one takes is a slick pass from Gaudreau over to Arnold for the backhand tap in.
This was a huge, huge late period goal. It smothered PC's growing momentum and kept BC from going into the locker room needing a desperate third period goal. Instead, the Eagles were able to play business as usual.
Goal #3 (PPG, GWG) -- 0:37 of the 3rd period: Patrick Brown (Kevin Hayes, Michael Matheson)
BC 3, PC 2
Hopefully "business as usual" continues to feature excellent power plays for the Eagles, because if we were already the top team in the nation in scoring (by quite a bit) without being good on the power play, then everyone else might as well just pack it in.
On this goal we've got the power play unit playing a bit higher up in the zone, but it ends up working out because of Brown getting right in Jon Gillies' grill. Kevin Hayes shoots a wrister that is deflected down and past Gillies, who never had a chance.
As an aside, it was great to see Brown get rewarded with a goal. The line of Sit-Brown-Smith kept the puck in the offensive zone about as much as Gaudreau-Arnold-Hayes did tonight.
I'm guessing there's a reason Jerry York has been sending out the Brown line to start games lately.
So with the go-ahead goal so early in the third period, there would be plenty of time for the Friars to equalize. But any pressure PC brought was turned aside by Brian Billett, who had yet another solid, workmanlike game between the pipes.
It wasn't until there were less than 3 minutes left that BC would be able to put the game away.
Goal #4 -- 17:50 of the 3rd period: John Gaudreau (Unassisted)
BC 4, PC 2
After this goal, BC's radio announcers made the comment that "there are guys who score goals, and there are guys who score big goals... Johnny Gaudreau is a guy that scores big goals."
Does he ever. This is just another case of Johnny Gaudreau doing Johnny Gaudreau things. #2 for Providence, Kevin Hart (wait, Kevin Hart? LOL) makes a really bad mistake and then it's just forget it.
Remember last year when it felt like every time Gaudreau would come in alone on the goalie, that something would go wrong where he wouldn't score? It has been the complete opposite thus far this season. The kid can't miss.
Even on this play, where Gillies appears to have the puck stopped on first glance, the puck still manages to trickle through into the net.
Enjoy this, folks, because Gaudreau is in his own world right now. He now leads all players in college hockey in goals, GWG, points, +/-, and points per game. And he is all alone in front in all five categories.
Goal #5 (ENG) -- 19:01 of the 3rd period: Kevin Hayes (John Gaudreau, Ian McCoshen)
BC 5, PC 2 -- FINAL
Empty netter, and party on.
Gaudreau (of course Gaudreau) bloops the puck out of the corner where it lands right in front of Kevin Hayes who is able to bring home home the empty netter for the 5th and final goal.
This goal was Kevin Hayes' 100th career point -- congratulations to him on what is shaping up to be a hell of an end to his career at the Heights. Lost in Gaudreaubey Mania is the fact that Hayes is suddenly third overall in the nation in scoring. He has been so good that if the season ended right now, you would probably see him in Philadelphia as part of the Hobey Hat Trick right next to Gaudreau.
So BC takes a huge, huge game against the Friars to solidify their #2 spot in the Pairwise and inch just a bit closer to the Gophers for #1. Providence only ended up dropping one spot to a tie for 8th with Northeastern, of all teams...
The Eagles will wrap up their weekend of hockey on Saturday with a game down in Providence, not against the Friars but against Brown, a halfway decent club sitting at .500 about halfway down the list in the Pairwise. With a 6 game winning streak under their belts after the big win against PC, the Eagles need to make sure they take care of business and avoid a let down.
Full highlights below. We'll see you right back here Saturday night.