The Boston College men’s hockey team put together a successful weekend with two wins over Maine to stay at the top of the Hockey East standings with just a few weeks to go. After grinding out a 4-2 win on Friday night, the Eagles played one of their best games of the season on Saturday, putting up 59 shots in a 3-0 win that never really felt as close as the final scoreline. So before we get into the final two weeks of the Hockey East regular season, let’s put a wrap on the Maine series with some of what stood out the most over the past two games.
SPECIAL TEAMS SETS THE TONE
BC’s special teams play came up huge in both games over the weekend, scoring big goals and killing off important penalties to help clinch wins.
Starting off with the short handed play, the Eagles killed five of Maine’s six power play chances while also adding a goal of their own when Matt Boldy opened the scoring on Friday night. The biggest moment of the weekend, however, came on Saturday night, when BC was forced to kill of a five-minute major penalty and a full two minutes of 5-on-3 after Harrison Roy and Nikita Nesterenko took back-to-back penalties. The Eagles had been dominating play up until that point, but the game was still scoreless and a goal for Maine could have changed the entire game. Instead, the penalty kill came up big and Spencer Knight made some big stops to keep the score tied at zero. A few minutes after the penalties expired, Patrick Giles scored the first goal of the game and the Eagles never looked back,
Meanwhile, the power play continued their upward trend, scoring three goals for the second weekend in a row. It still doesn’t look perfect all the time, but the strategy of letting Alex Newhook walk into shots and pick corners is working a lot better than some of what they were trying earlier in the season. Newhook had a power play goal in both games against Maine and is already up to a team leading four on the season, as his return to the lineup has helped BC climb up to 17.6 percent on the season. His goal on Friday night served as the game winner while his tally on Saturday gave the team some much needed insurance in the third period. Matt Boldy added a empty net power play goal late in Friday’s game, and suddenly a unit that had given BC virtually nothing through the first half of the season appears to be getting hot at the right time.
THIRD LINE CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
BC’s new look third line of Patrick Giles, Marc McLaughlin, and Casey Carreau played their second full weekend together and probably turned in their best two games since coming together. Giles and McLaughlin both scored on rebound goals while Carreau turned in one of the more impressive one-point weekend that you’ll see. Carreau made about half a dozen impressive plays on the forecheck, one of which lead to McLaughlin’s goal on Friday and another later in the same game that drew a penalty to essentially clinch the win for BC.
There’s a kind of grindy feeling that this line gives off both when they’re defending and when they’re in the offensive zone. While they may not be as lethal in transition as the top two lines that BC has, there’s a clear willingness to crash the net and score the dirty goals that teams need to win. The goal Giles scored on Saturday was the perfect example of this, as he jumped on a rebound while Carreau and McLaughlin sat right outside the crease looking to do the same thing.
This wasn’t a trio that I expected to be put together when the season started, but they’re playing well and producing at both ends, so I’ll happily be wrong about this one.
FOURTH LINE REMAINS A BIT IN FLUX
On the other hand, it looks like Jerry York is still trying to find the best fit for his fourth line with a few weeks to go, as he inserted Liam Izyk into the lineup in favor of Danny Weight. Izyk, a sophomore transfer from Alabama-Huntsville, made his debut after being out with an injury to start the season and looked pretty good. He finished with two shots over the two games and came close to getting his first goal with the Eagles with a scoring chance on Saturday, but was ultimately held off the board.
His two linemates, Trevor Kuntar and Harrison Roy, continued their somewhat up-and-down freshman campaigns with an up-and-down weekend. Roy in particular had some real highs and lows on Saturday, almost opening the scoring with a great chance off of a beautiful toe drag, but ending his night early when he was called for a major penalty and a game misconduct in the second period. Kuntar, meanwhile, continued to play on the fourth line after spending much of the early part of the season with Giles and McLaughlin on the third. Kuntar started the season hot, but hasn’t scored in his past nine games and only has a single point in that same time.
None of this is to say that the fourth line has looked bad, in fact until Roy took his penalty on Saturday, they were having a pretty solid weekend despite not scoring. But this is still a brand new line and it’s going to take some time before they’re firing on all cylinders.
SOME FINAL RANDOM THOUGHTS
Some bullet points to put a wrap on this weekend:
- Colby Ambrosio broke a short four-game goalless drought when he scored to make it a 3-0 game on Saturday. With 14 points on the season, Ambrosio is tied for fifth on the team in scoring, and trails only his linemate Nikita Nesterenko (17) as far as the freshmen go.
- Drew Helleson had an assist in both games to extend his point streak to six games. This marks a new career best streak for the sophomore defenseman.
- Spencer Knight’s shutout on Saturday was his third of the season, but his first since all the way back in December, when BC shutout Providence in back-to-back games. Despite this, Knight remains one of the best goalies in the country and comes in near the top of the leaderboard for pretty much any goalie stat you could choose.
- Matt Boldy’s shorthanded goal on Friday was the seventh of the year for BC, good for best in the nation. The penalty kill continues to be equal parts effective and dangerous for the Eagles, as the team is only being outscored 11-7 when opponents go on the power play.