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The Penalty Kill Dominates and Lukas Gustafsson is Making Plays: Boston College Men’s Hockey Weekend Thoughts

Boston College v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The Boston College men’s hockey team split a pair of games against Northeastern over the weekend, seeing their four game winning streak come to an end on Friday night before bouncing back with a win on Saturday. The Eagles weren’t at their best in either game but there was still some good to take away from the weekend, so let’s take a final look at these two games as we head into the final game of the first half of the season.

MIKE POSMA AND THE PENALTY KILL

Mike Posma has had a pretty interesting career at BC so far. He’s bounced up and down in the lineup and been asked to play a lot of different roles in his two and a half seasons as an Eagle, but one thing he’s been doing pretty consistently has been killing penalties. Posma usually gets on the ice early when the Eagles are shorthanded and the results this year have been just fantastic.

BC’s penalty kill is now the topped ranked PK in the country after a perfect eight-for-eight weekend against Northeastern. They’ve killed off 57 of 61 penalties so far this year, good for a ridiculous 93.4 percent success rate and they’ve scored three shorthanded goals of their own. In a little bit less than two full games worth of time spent shorthanded, the Eagles have been outscored 4-3. You can’t do a whole lot better than that.

Posma plays a big role on the penalty kill and he made his impact felt in a big way on Friday night. With BC trailing 3-0 and shorthanded about halfway through the second period, Posma put in a great shift. He used an active stick on the forecheck to take the puck away from a Northeastern defender and kill some time before eventually being rewarded with shorthanded goal to finally get BC on the board. And the penalty kill can really provide a spark for a team that’s lacking some energy. The Eagles looked like they were sleepwalking through the first period and a half on Friday night. After Posma’s goal, they scored two more in the next eight minutes to erase a three goal deficit. The energy that they responded with after the shorthanded goal was obvious. In a season where a lot has gone right so far, the penalty kill really might be this team’s biggest strength.

THIRD LINE STRUGGLES ON FRIDAY

BC has mostly had strong play up and down the lineup this season but Friday night was a rough showing from Colby Ambrosio and his linemates. Ambrosio skated with Jack Malone and Jamie Armstrong on Friday, with Armstrong moving up in the lineup from his normal role on the fourth line as Will Vote missed the first game of the weekend. And the trio just didn’t click at all. All three finished the night with no points and a minus two while combining for just one shot in total. Ambrosio actually skated a few shifts with the fourth line at one point, with Mike Posma taking his spot on the third.

Things were shaken up even more on Saturday night, when Ambrosio was listed as a fourth liner next to Posma and Gentry Shamburger while Armstrong and Malone skated with Vote. That’s a pretty harsh demotion for one of BC’s longest tenured players, but not entirely unfair. Ambrosio has had some nice moments and looked really good at the start of the season, but he’s been a bit underwhelming of late with just one point in his last 10 games. I do think he’s better than a fourth line player, but at a certain point, he has to produce and five points in 15 games isn’t enough. Hopefully he can bounce back with a big second half and help shore up a third line that looked like it could be pretty dangerous at the start of the season.

LUKAS GUSTAFSSON MAKING PLAYS

How can you tell when someone is playing with a lot of confidence? How about when a defenseman jumps up from below the faceoff circle in his own zone to join the rush while protecting a one-goal lead. And then scores a beauty of course:

That’s not even an odd-man rush Gustafsson is joining there, Northeastern looks like they should be in pretty good shape defensively. But Gustafsson sees a chance to beat his man into the offensive zone and puts the puck right under the crossbar for his first goal of the season. His scoring pace is down pretty considerably from last year - from 19 in 35 games to just three in 16 - but he’s been more noticeable on that end of the ice over the past few weekends. Hopefully his goal from Saturday gets him back on his pace from last year.