The Boston College men’s hockey team had a busier week than normal last week, knocking off Northeastern 6-2 in a rare (for this season anyways) midweek game before splitting a Friday/Saturday series with their rivals from down Comm. Ave. Their regulation loss on Saturday night was their first non shootout loss since January 8 and their first regulation loss since December 12 (granted these were back to back games), but it still stung just as much as any other loss to BU. There were some positives, some negatives, and some firsts that stood out from the last three games, so let’s take a look at some of what stood out.
TWO VERY DIFFERENT GOALS THE CLEAR HIGHLIGHTS
Friday night’s overtime win against BU ended with a goal of the year candidate from Drew Helleson that I think we could all benefit from watching again:
That’s just an incredible play from Helleson, who has taken a massive step forward after what had already been an impressive freshman season. This was just a glimpse of some of the individual talent he can flash, but his entire game really has rounded into form in a way that I didn’t really expect, at least not this quickly.
The second highlight goal came on Tuesday night, also from a defenseman.
▶️ The most celebrated unassisted insurance goal in NCAA history? pic.twitter.com/zoUZ3tIDGH— BC Hockey (@BCHockey) February 3, 2021
That’s not quite as flashy a goal as Helleson scored, but you just had to feel good for Michael Karow after his first career goal. The lone senior blue liner had played in 119 games for Boston College before getting on the board in #120, and his celebration combined with the reactions of his teammates tell you how big of a moment this was. Karow has been a mainstay in BC’s lineup since his freshman year, and he’s mostly been relied on to do the dirty work since then. For someone with a total of 14 points across his four seasons, seeing him finally get his moment was really nice to see.
NIKITA NESTERENKO CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
BC has a number of impress freshmen playing big minutes this season, but Nikita Nesterenko continues to stand out as a big time playmaker. Nesterenko is currently in a three way tie for second on the team with 14 points after skating with the first line for the majority of the season. His most impressive play from the last three games may have come in Friday’s game against BU, when his aggressive forechecking lead to a turnover in the offensive zone and eventually a goal from Colby Ambrosio.
Nesterenko is off to a really solid start in his freshman season, and there’s a lot to like about his game. Along with Ambrosio, Eamon Powell, and a few others, this looks like an awfully strong freshman class for the Eagles.
SATURDAY A BIT OF A DUD
As fun as the ending to Friday night’s game was, Saturday night felt like a bit of a letdown from the Eagles. Facing BU’s third string goalie in his first career college start, BC just never got a whole lot going offensively. They looked dangerous for the first few shifts and eventually took a 1-0 lead with a power play goal, but they looked like they were on their heels for long stretches of the game. A quick look at the box score says that BC actually outshot BU 41-23, but at least from what I saw, that really didn’t feel like an accurate reflection on how the game went.
With how well BC has played this season, it’s probably fine to chalk this one up to the team having an off night. BU is a good team this season and sometimes teams just don’t have their A game. Losing Marshall Warren to a game misconduct penalty didn’t help things, but even without him the Eagles really should have been able to put up more than the one goal. These things will happen over the course of the season, it’s just extra frustrating when it happens against BU.
NEWHOOK RETURNS TO SOME MIXED RESULTS
One bit of excellent news we got before Friday’s game was that Alex Newhook would finally be able to draw back into the lineup after playing just one prior game for the Eagles. Newhook immediately took his spot on alongside Matt Boldy and Mike Hardman on a line that looked flat out dominant towards the end of last season.
And for the most part, the line looked good. Not dominant, but good, particularly on Friday night. They didn’t manage to score at even strength, but they did create some good scoring chances and put pressure on the BU defense pretty regularly. Newhook and Boldy also connected on a power play goal on Friday night, but Newhook’s return certainly didn’t solve all of the team’s problems on the man advantage as some of us may have hoped.
Newhook showed some rust after coming back from a lengthy injury, but that wasn’t all that surprising and the good in his game definitely outweighed the bad. If he and his line can get back to where they were during the second half of last season, they’ll be a force every time they step on the ice.