It was a fun night at Kelley Rink on Friday as Boston College fought furiously to the final whistle to beat Denver 4-3 in a huge top 5 clash. What were some key takeaways from the game?
1. Teddy Doherty is a captain's captain: Maybe it's because he took Tommy Cross's number and position, but there was something about Doherty right away during his freshman year that struck me as someone who was a future leader for this team. Knowing nothing about his off-ice presence, just watching him play, and seeing the kinds of heads up plays he makes, the 60 minute effort he always brings to the table, and his willingness to play well at any role Coach York and the staff have asked him to play, made him one of my favorite players over these last few seasons. Based on this past week, we also know he was a good choice to steer the ship off the ice and keep everyone pulling in the right direction.
But it wasn't just the captain's leadership that helped BC bounce back from the Bracco departure with a big win - it was his contributions on the ice, too. Go back and take a look at the GIF of Doherty's power play goal that put BC up early in the second period. You can't see all the context in the GIF but try to visualize everything that's going on and join me on the other side. Remember, the goal was scored about 7 seconds after an attacking zone faceoff to start a power play:
You see what happened here? BC loses control of the puck right after the faceoff and it looks like Denver is going to push it up the wall and out of the zone. As such, you can vaguely see at the bottom of the GIF that Doherty busts his way back in to the neutral zone to anticipate this and defend any Denver rushes. Then, as soon as he sees McCoshen make the saving play to keep the puck in the zone, he immediately recognizes the situation, skates back in to the attacking zone, and is ready to receive Sanford's feed and immediately laser it in to the top of the net. Just a heads up play all around, an example of what makes Doherty such a valuable player to this team.
2. Don't cross Jerry York: As I mentioned on Saturday when posting about York's post game press conference, it's pretty rare to hear him say anything even remotely disparaging of anyone. So for him to basically respond to questions about Jeremy Bracco by essentially saying to get out of the kitchen if you can't stand the heat, it shows just how strongly he feels about the buy-in necessary from the players to make his program tick.
3. BC can go toe to toe with the most elite teams: This obviously doesn't really come as a surprise given BC's preseason ranking, but it was still good to see the Eagles square off for the first time against a team with nationally elite talent, and not just win on the strength of Thatcher Demko and maybe some opportune goals, but to really be at least even with if not a little better than a very good Denver team over the course of a 60 minute battle. The high end skill on display from each team was very evident. It remains to be seen if a team or two pulls a Union and takes a veteran-laden roster that might not look like world beaters on paper and become a steamroller, but so long as that doesn't happen, BC should be right up there with anyone.
4. Matt Gaudreau is making his own name at BC: Grant had one of the tweets of the week, in response to a John Buccigross tweet saying 'Johnny Gaudreau's brother' scored a game winning goal for the Eagles:
Nah Bucci, Matty Gaudreau is his own man at this point. Deserves recognition for his own skillset and hardnosed play https://t.co/JcHrUsCOIk— Grant Salzano (@Salzano14) October 31, 2015
I don't say this often, but Grant is right. Matt Gaudreau is not his brother. But he's forged his own identity and become someone whose spot in this BC lineup is assured night in and night out. Let's hope this game winner drives him forward with even more confidence.
5. Miles Wood has game breaking ability: There were a few really, really good forwards on last year's team - Sanford, Tuch, Fitzgerald, Gilmour - but you never really got the sense that any of them were going to pull a goal out of thin air and completely change a game. That's kind of what Miles Wood did late in the first period by blowing down the ice on a breakaway and beating Evan Cowley with a slick finish. This game breaking ability manifested itself again in the third period on BC's goal to go ahead 3-2. Wood is the team's leading scorer right now and has elevated his grouping with Austin Cangelosi and Chris Calnan to first line status.