What an absolutely unbelievable weekend of hockey.
The Boston College men’s hockey team passed every test in their biggest weekend of the regular season, sweeping Boston University in a home-and-home series to jump them in the Pairwise rankings, jump them in the national rankings, and catch up to them in the Hockey East standings. It just doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.
Here’s some of what stood out from the best weekend this team has had in a couple of years.
JACOB FOWLER HAS HIS MOMENT
There was a ton of talent on the ice over the weekend but for my money, the best player in both games was the man in net for BC. Jacob Fowler was fantastic in his introduction to this rivalry, holding an immensely talented Terriers team to just four goals across the two games. He stopped 58 of the 62 shots that he faced and perhaps most impressively, he kept BU’s biggest names off the board for a long time despite the fact that they had plenty of scoring chances. BU’s two highest scorers - Macklin Celebrini and Lane Hutson - were both blanked on Friday night and only managed to get on the board late on Saturday when Celebrini finally scored on a shot through traffic. And Fowler probably could have had an assist of his own on an earlier goal in the third, when he started an odd-man rush opportunity with a great kick save.
We’ve talked a lot about how good the freshman class has been this season but it feels like most of that is in reference to the trio of forwards in Ryan Leonard, Will Smith, and Gabe Perreault. But Fowler has been just as good if not better than them. Pick a statistic and there’s a good chance Fowler is near the top of the leaderboard. Not the Hockey East leaderboard and not just for freshman, but in the country. His .924 save percentage is good for sixth best, he’s #10 in goals against average, and he’s tied for first in terms of just the raw wins with 18. Fowler has been the rock solid, every night goalie that we all hoped he would be basically from the first game of the season, and he stood out even more over the biggest weekend of the year.
HIGH END TALENT ON FULL DISPLAY
This whole sequence from Ryan Leonard might be my favorite play of the season so far:
Cutter Gauthier (#FlyTogether) adds to his lead in Hockey East goalscoring with his 19th of the season to give @BC_MHockey a 3-2 lead in the second.— Elite Prospects (@eliteprospects) January 28, 2024
Ryan Leonard (#ALLCAPS) and Lukas Gustafsson (FA) with the assists on the play. pic.twitter.com/dXWYubKJV2
Some context if you don’t remember this one, but BU was all over BC in the second period of Saturday’s game. The Terriers scored an early goal to tie things up and before this goal, absolutely looked like they were about to take the lead. This came at the end of a stretch where BC was pinned in their own zone for about 90 seconds or so and almost everyone is gassed. Lukas Gustafsson ends up with a secondary assist here, but he really just flipped the puck out of the zone to try and get off the ice. And then out of nowhere, Leonard wins a puck race, drops a pass to Cutter Gauthier, and the Eagles are back in the lead.
This is the kind of thing that BC has been missing over the past few seasons. The players who can create a scoring chance out of nothing. Ryan Leonard was at the end of a shift that went on for about two minutes and was mostly spent defending here. You can tell he’s exhausted - he actually turns to get off the ice as soon as he makes his pass to Gauthier. And yet, he still manages to win a race to the puck against BU’s best defenseman in Lane Hutson and suddenly Gauthier has the puck alone in a dangerous area and he buries it to put BC back in front.
The Eagles needed their best players to show up over the weekend and they certainly did. The four first round picks scored six of the team’s eight goals over the weekend and all of them came in big moments. This team is going to go as far as those four (and probably Fowler) will take them and this weekend, they took them to two huge wins.
AN OTHERWORLDLY ATMOSPHERE
This has been mentioned a lot in the past few days but it’s worth repeating -the atmosphere in the building on Friday night was special. The hockey crowds have been fantastic all season, but this was something else entirely. Conte Forum got about as loud as I’ve ever heard it and the fans kept it up for pretty much the entire game. It just felt like it would be an absolutely miserable place to be in as an opposing player or fan and the best place in the world if you were rooting for BC. Just an incredible place to watch an incredible game to kick the weekend off on the right foot.