It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t easy, but the Boston College men’s hockey team dug themselves out of an early hole and used some depth scoring to get back to .500 on the year, knocking off UConn 3-2. The win moved the Eagles to 6-6-2 on the season (6-1-2 in Hockey East) and sent them into the holiday break on a positive note.
The Huskies struck first with a shorthanded goal right before a BC power play chance expired, 6:14 into the period. A quick one timer beat Joe Woll up high to end his shutout streak at 184 minutes, the equivalent of just more than nine periods of work. The two teams skated to what was essentially a stalemate for much of the remainder of the first period, before BC went back to the man advantage with just 45 seconds left. The Eagles were able to gain control of the puck and move it with ease, eventually breaking down UConn’s defense. Casey Fitzgerald found Julius Mattila wide open on the half boards, where he was able to set up David Cotton for an easy tip in goal. The junior’s 11th goal of the season came with just 16 seconds left in the period, and the two teams went into the intermission tied at one.
Jack McBain gave the Eagles their first lead of the night early in the second period, with a tremendous individual effort. McBain beat three different players at the offensive blue line before cutting off the boards and into the slot, where he wristed a puck into the back of the net for his second goal of the season. Neither team was able to get on the board for the remainder of the period, with Hutsko being turned away on a breakaway and Cotton stopped on a shorthanded bid. At the other end, Woll managed to stop all 14 shots he saw in the middle period.
Oliver Wahlstrom doubled BC’s lead just a few minutes into the third period, scoring on a shot from a tight angle just seconds after a BC power play had expired. BC has been desperate for scoring outside of their top line this season, and goals from McBain and Wahlstrom in the same game could hopefully provide a glimpse of where that may come from as the season continues. UConn struck back just about five minutes later, however, with a power play goal after Michael Karow went to the box for tripping. UConn threatened to bring things level for the remainder of the game, but BC was able to kill a late penalty and the final push from the Huskies when they pulled their goalie to put away a 3-2 win.
It feels strange to be celebrating a .500 record, but it wasn’t that long ago at all that this season felt dead and buried. The Eagles were 0-5 after a November 2 conference loss to Merrimack, and they’d looked bad in just about every game. Since then, they’ve been playing better hockey as they’ve started to climb out of the hole that they dug themselves. They’ve got one line that is a legitimate threat whenever they are on the ice and another that may finally be flashing signs of life. There’s still plenty of work to be done before anyone can be convinced of this team, but for where they started, a 6-6-2 record headed into the break doesn’t seem all that bad.