The Boston College men’s hockey team ended their regular season with a 4-2 win over Northeastern on Friday, clinching the top spot in the Hockey East standings as a result. The Eagles wrap up their season with a 16-4-1 record and will head into the Hockey East playoffs with home ice advantage throughout, but before we start thinking about that too much, let’s take a quick look back at the last game of the season with some of what stood out from the win over the Huskies.
THIRD PERIOD AN ENCOURAGING SIGN
Friday’s game felt like it was following a familiar script for the first two periods, with BC playing pretty well for stretches, but not exactly looking great for the full time. For the second time in as many games, the Eagles got out to a 2-0 lead only to see it disappear, and by the time the second period ended, Northeastern was ahead in the shots department 27-20.
The third period, however, served as a reminded to how good this team can look when they really get going. Mostly rolling four lines, the Eagles outshot Northeastern 22-7, scored two goals, and drew a late penalty to essentially clinch the game. They also stayed out of the box themselves and avoided having to go shorthanded against a dangerous Northeastern power play. It was as close to a perfect period of hockey as a team can play, starting with Casey Carreau’s game wining goal that came just 94 seconds in.
Friday’s game wasn’t perfect by any means, but if BC can execute like they did in the third period just a little bit more often, we should all feel pretty confident heading into postseason play.
BC’S MAGIC NUMBER
Spencer Knight has started 51 games in his two years at Boston College. In those 51 games, he has let up four or more goals a total of three times, and none since February 3 of last year in the Beanpot game against BU. Since that game, no one has scored more than three goals against BC when Spencer Knight has started in net.
Basically, for the last 30 or so games that we’ve seen this team play, four goals has meant a win and three goals has meant a tie at the absolute worst. Comparing that to a team like BU, who allowed at least four goals in four of their 14 games and still finished second in Hockey East, and you start to understand the kind of competitive advantage a goalie like Knight can give a team on a nightly basis. He was sharp again this weekend, making 30 saves on 32 shots to close out the regular season with a .937 save percentage. Even when BC doesn’t have their best game, Knight is almost a lock to keep them in it and give them a chance to win.
PENALTY KILL COMES UP BIG ONCE AGAIN
Matt Boldy scored his third shorthanded goal of the season to give BC a 2-0 lead on Friday night, tying him for the team lead with Marc McLaughlin. The Eagles also killed off all three power play attempts from a Northeastern team that was clicking right around the 30 percent mark (though on of Northeastern’s goals did come right as a power play expired) and their eight shorthanded goals are three more than the next closest team in the country.
I’ve mentioned a few of these stats in previous weeks, but here’s a recap to close out the regular season. BC’s power play outscored it’s penalty by a 12-8 margin and opponents only held an 11-8 margin while BC was shorthanded. Despite regular power play time, Matt Boldy and Marc McLaughlin had more goals while the Eagles were down a skater. All of this is probably just some kind of noise from a small sample size, but BC’s penalty kill has been extremely dangerous all season and will have to continue to be a key factor is they hope to make a deep run in the Hockey East tournament or beyond.
MARSHALL WARREN STEADY AS EVER
Drew Helleson might be the Eagles blue liner who has taken the biggest step forward this season, but Marshall Warren has turned in a very impressive sophomore campaign as well, and Friday’s game showcased some of the strengths of his game. On one shift early in the game, Marshall broke up two dangerous chances for Northeastern as a result of his superb skating ability on the backcheck. He also picked up an assist on each of Matt Boldy’s two goals to give him his second multi-point game of the season (both of which came against Northeastern).
With the departure of four defensemen from last year’s team, Warren has been forced to take on a much larger role in his second season with BC, and he’s certainly stepped up to the challenge. He remains both a fun player to watch, and someone that Jerry York can clearly trust to play big minutes on a nightly basis. His impressive game on Friday night wasn’t the first one worthy of recognition this season, and hopefully it won’t be the last.