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Boston College Men’s Hockey Weekend Thoughts

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Thoughts after a much needed sweep

COLLEGE HOCKEY: FEB 03 Beanpot Tournament - Boston College v Boston University Photo by Mark Box/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Boston College men’s hockey team picked up two wins over Merrimack this past weekend, grinding out a 3-2 victory on the road before returning home for a dominant 6-2 final. Here are some thoughts after a solid weekend.

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

With the Hockey East standings being absolutely insane right now (more on this later this week), BC absolutely had to come away with four points from this weekend. Merrimack is second to last in the conference at 5-13-3 and while they do have a good win or two on their resume, these are games BC needed to win.

And give them credit, that’s just what they did. On Friday night, they went into Merrimack’s building, fought back from an early deficit, and hung on late to escape with the game. And on Saturday, they flat out dominated Merrimack for long stretches and put the game to bed before the second period was over.

The two wins moved BC into a tie for first in the conference in terms of points with UMass, though the Eagles have played one fewer game at this point. There are five other teams within three points of them. Forget just winning the Hockey East regular season, if BC had dropped points here, they’d be at serious risk of going on the road to start the tournament. They still don’t really have any breathing room, but they did exactly what they had to do in the past two games.

FRESHMAN LINE DOMINATING

We all know what BC’s top line can do on any given night, but there’s a new trio of forwards that might just be playing the best of anyone right now.

BC’s second line of Mike Hardman, Alex Newhook, and Matt Boldy has been on fire since being put together a few weeks ago. Newhook can’t stop scoring (seven goals in his last six games), Boldy has started to heat up, and Hardman has been solid all season, and playing together seems to have unlocked a new gear for all three of BC’s freshman forwards.

Their current high level of play was on full display during Saturday’s game, when the three players combined for four goals and ten points. When they’re playing like that, they’re really more of another first line than a second line. It’s hard not to get excited about what the next few weeks could look like if this level of play keeps up.

PENALTY KILL CHECK IN

I talked about how the penalty kill was becoming a concern for BC in this column last week, so it’s worth mentioning what I thought was a very solid weekend. BC went 7-of-8 on the PK against Merrimack, and the one goal that they did let up was towards the end of a game that had been long since decided on Saturday.

Does that mean much? Well, maybe. Merrimack is converting at right around 19 percent of their power plays, which is right around the middle of the pack for the NCAA, but BC made them look a whole lot worse than that at times. Julius Matilla even scored a short handed goal on the same power play that Merrimack eventually scored on, so for the weekend BC played to a tie while down a skater (it was an empty net goal but let’s ignore that).

On the other hand, how much can you ever really learn from two games? If they let up three goals in the games against Northeastern, we’ll be right back to square one. But it was at least a good weekend for the penalty kill and that’s worth mentioning after being so hard on them a week ago.

SOME FIRSTS AND SOME MILESTONES

A couple points of note from Saturday’s game. Freshman defenseman Mitch Andres picked up a secondary assist on the first goal of the game for the first point of his collegiate career. Andres stepped into the lineup for an injured Connor Moore and looked mostly fine in just the fourth game of his career.

Meanwhile, that freshman line had a few big moments as well. Alex Newhook had five points on the nights, becoming the first Eagle to hit that number since 2014. And Matt Boldy had the first multi goal game of his career, giving him five on the season and allowing me to say I called it.

Congrats to all three freshmen on a big weekend!