Boosted by five different goal scorers and another stellar performance from Joe Woll, Boston College blew out Maine 5-0 and moved closer to clinching the Hockey East regular season title. The Eagles led this one almost completely wire-to-wire to win their second game in a row and keep their dwindling hopes of a NCAA Tournament at large bid alive for the moment. It was perhaps the best 60 minute performance of the season for BC, as they went into a packed house and a hostile environment and kept the building silent for the majority of the contest.
Casey Fitzgerald started the scoring with a wrist shot that found its way through traffic just 2:47 into the first period. Julius Mattila buried a rebound off a David Cotton shot about eight minutes later and the Eagles had a 2-0 lead that they would never relinquish. Maine made a strong push after Mattila’s goal, controlling play for much of the back half of the period, but Joe Woll stood tall and kept the Eagles up two goals at intermission.
Zach Walker scored his first goal of the season in the second period to give BC a comfortable 3-0 lead. The goal came off a nice zone entry and pass from Ron Greco and should come as a hopeful sign for BC fans. BC has struggled to score all season, and the fourth line of Greco, Walker, Casey Carreau has been particularly snake-bitten. All three had points on the night (Carreau collecting an assist on Fitzgerald’s goal) and the line as a whole has been playing better of late. Without a dominant first line, BC desperately needs scoring from up and down the lineup, and tonight was a good step in the right direction.
Logan Hutsko snapped a wicked wrister into the net just seconds into the third period to chase the Black Bears goalie and effectively put this game to bed. It was the sixth goal in four games for Hutsko, who has been as hot recently as any Eagle has been all season. Graham McPhee added an empty netter when the game was long since decided and BC rolled to a 5-0 victory.
Before McPhee’s goal, things got chippy for a bit towards the end of the third period. Casey Fitzgerald picked up a game misconduct late in the third after an apparent cross check to the head of a Maine player after the play had been whistled dead. With Luke McInnis’s recently being ruled out for the season, BC only has six active defensemen, and losing Fitzgerald even for a game would put them in a tough spot. Any suspension for Fitzgerald would be a tough blow for BC, as he has been their leader on the blue line for most, if not all, of the season.
Joe Woll stopped all 33 shots that he faced on the night, including an impressive stretch late in the first period when Maine was making a push. It was a great performance from the sophomore, who has been mostly good this season despite some unflattering numbers. It was Woll’s first shutout of the season and his second straight strong outing, after his 28 save performance on Thursday night.
With the win, Northeastern can no longer match BC’s win total in Hockey East, therefore dropping BC’s magic number from four points to one. BC will host Maine twice next weekend, needing only a single tie to clinch the Hockey East regular season crown. The Eagles would likely still need to win the Hockey East tournament in order to go to the NCAA Tournament, but there is still plenty to play for next weekend.