The Boston College men’s hockey team dropped its season opener 3-0 to the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday night, putting up an effort that is accurately represented in the final scoreline. Outside of a few shifts and moments throughout the night, BC never really threatened to make this a game, and the Badgers emerged as the rightful winners on opening night.
A slow first 20 minutes saw the teams tied at zero headed into intermission. Most of the play took place in the neutral zone with neither team able to put much together in terms of high danger chances. It took the Eagles almost half the period to even get a puck on net, though the frame closed with them holding a slight advantage in that column. The top line of Oliver Wahlstrom, Julius Mattila, and Logan Hutsko did put together a dangerous looking shift that saw them hold the puck for a solid 45 seconds, but they were unable to generate any real scoring chances out of that. The Eagles also had a late powerplay that didn’t amount to a whole lot, and the teams hit the locker rooms still looking for the first goal of the game.
The second period was, kindly put, poorly played by the Eagles, as Wisconsin scored two goals to take a 2-0 lead into the third. Joe Woll was beaten from a shot from the point as a Wisconsin forward screened him for the opening goal of the night. Towards the end of the period, a turnover in the neutral zone lead to a two-on-one chance for the Badgers. Woll made the first stop, but Wisconsin jumped on the rebound and put the second chance past him before he had a chance to re-position himself. Offensively, BC did almost nothing in the middle period, with their best chance actually coming when Michael Kim had a breakaway while the team was shorthanded. The puck rolled a bit on Kim and he wasn’t able to lift it the way he may have liked to, and so the Eagles stayed off the board. David Cotton had a good shift early and Hutsko had some life during the period, but BC managed only a few shots and, outside of Kim’s chance, didn’t do much to test Wisconsin, even on their lone powerplay of the period.
The third was more of the same for BC, as they played another 20 minutes of largely uninspired hockey. Wahlstrom rang a post and Hutsko had a half chance off a strong play on a rush, but for the most part, Wisconsin kept the Eagles shots to the outside and BC never got enough net front presence to really make any difference. Wisconsin added an empty net goal to ice things and BC fell to the Badgers 3-0 in the season opener.
There just weren’t a ton of positives from this game, as Wisconsin looked like the better team for most of the game. BC would have a strong shift here or there, but the Badgers just outplayed them for the majority of the night. The penalty kill looked strong and legitimately dangerous at times, as some of the best chances of the night came shorthanded. Joe Woll also played a strong game, with strong rebound control and neither of the two goals that he allowed were his fault.
For a season opener, the result and execution are understandable if not fully excusable. New faces (Wahlstrom and Marc McLaughlin made their freshmen debuts), new line combinations, and just the overall sloppiness that can sometimes come with early season hockey can all lead to poor play. But as we saw last season, a bad start can do a lot of damage to tournament chances, and playing catch-up for almost a full season is something that should be avoided at all costs. In the end, however, it’s only game one, and BC will have every chance to right the ship tomorrow when they get right back at it against this same Wisconsin team.