The Boston College men’s hockey team took two wins from their weekend series against UMass Lowell to get back on the right track after dropping last Saturday’s game to BU. Friday night’s contest was an impressive 7-1 blowout for the Eagles while Saturday’s game saw them come back from an early 2-0 deficit to win 4-3. There’s plenty to talk about from these two games, but there’s one obvious spot that we have to start in.
SOPHOMORE LINE MAKES THEIR STATEMENT
When Alex Newhook returned to action last weekend against BU, he was immediately reunited with Mike Hardman and Matt Boldy in an attempt to recapture some of the magic that the trio produced towards the end of last season. Against BU, the trio looked good but not great. They produced some chances and had their moments, but they only managed to produce a single power play goal over the course of the two games and none at even strength. It’s a testament to how much they were clicking last season when we can look at their weekend against the Terriers and think it was just fine.
On Friday night against Lowell, we got a whole lot more than just fine.
The sophomore line exploded for five goals on Friday night - three on the power play and two at even strength. Boldy lead the way with a career high five points (1 goal, 4 assists) while both Newhook and Hardman had two-goal games in a 7-1 route. Hardman added another goal in Saturday night’s win, scoring while the two sides were playing at four-on-four.
This line looked completely unstoppable on Friday night and they followed it up with another impressive showing on Saturday (Newhook would have had a goal of his own if not for an incredible save in tight). And while they’re not going to score five goals every game for the rest of the season, it’s nice to have a top line that can take over a game on a given night.
ONE LAST THING ON ALEX NEWHOOK
It was pretty clear that even though they were winning games, BC was missing Alex Newhook for stretches earlier this season. And as fans, we certainly missed watching him play as well. But man, I was still not ready for this play on Friday night.
Yeah that’s a nice pass at the end to set up Mike Hardman’s goal, but can we talk about how ridiculously easy he actually caught that first pass from Matt Boldy? It’s not a great pass from Boldy, but Newhook pulls off some magic here. He takes a pass that’s in his skates and somehow manages to kick it up to his own stick essentially without breaking stride to set up an odd-man rush. That’s a ridiculously hard play to make and he made it look like the easiest thing in the world. It’s so nice to have him back.
CHECKING IN ON JACK McBAIN
A few weeks back, I mentioned that Jack McBain had been a bit snake bitten since the opening game of the season - playing good hockey but not finding the back of the net since his two-goal season debut. Well, it looks like that bit of bad luck is fully behind McBain now, as he scored the eventual game winner on Saturday night for his third goal in the last five games and his fifth on the season.
McBain is tied for second on the team with 18 points through 17 games and his strong play has finally started to be rewarded with a few goals of his own. He’s showing some real chemistry with Nikita Nesterenko and Colby Ambrosio, and that line will need to continue playing well after the Eagles lost Logan Hutsko for the rest of the season. They had two third period goals on Saturday (Nesterenko and McBain) after a somewhat quiet Friday night and will hopefully be able to build on that moving forward.
QUICK STRIKE OFFENSE ON FULL DISPLAY
Saturday night was a much closer game than Friday night, with BC falling behind 2-0 after one period and struggling to create a lot of good chances for about the first half of the game. Things changed pretty quickly, however, after some matching penalties set the two teams up for two minutes of four-on-four play. The Eagles scored twice in those two minutes, with Hardman getting on the board first before Drew Helleson added one of his own.
It’s pretty clear by this point of the season that when this BC team gets rolling, they can put up a bunch of goals very quickly. Their four goals on Saturday night came in just about 15 minutes of actual game time, and that was enough to get the job done. A three-goal night on the power play on Friday has their power play percentage up to 14.8 percent on the season (though I’d argue there’s still plenty to clean up there) and they still haven’t let up more than three goals when Spencer Knight has been in net. With the scheduling and the way that Hockey East is handling its conference seeding going forward, this has been a weird season for the most part, but it’s awfully hard to watch this team play and not get excited about a potential postseason run.
CASEY CARREAU MAKING AN IMPACT
Just a quick one here, but it’s really nice to see Casey Carreau playing as well as he is. Carreau left BC after his freshman year to play in some different leagues before rejoining the team last year, but he’s mostly been either an extra skater or a fourth liner until the last few weeks. He played well enough to earn a promotion to the third line recently, and he’s looked the part in his brief stint with Marc McLaughlin and Patrick Giles. Carreau scored his fourth goal of the season on Friday night, and his six points in 16 games are already a career high for the junior. His game isn’t flashy by any means, but he’s clearly worked hard not only to be an every night player, but to become the kind of player that the coaching staff can trust to play a bit higher up in the lineup. That’s not an easy thing to do, and Carreau deserves credit for putting in the time and effort to become that kind of player.
SPENCER KNIGHT, CASUALLY FLIPPING 125 FOOT PASSES
What on Earth are you even supposed to do with this if you’re Lowell?