After the top-ranked Minnesota Gophers took a 1-0 lead barely 30 seconds into the first period, Boston College hockey fans rightfully felt that their team was in some deep quicksand. When the Gophers took a 2-0 lead by the five minute mark, that quicksand was up to their necks. I mean, a 2-0 lead? Five minutes in? No way BC could come back from that.
Well, if there's a lesson to be had, it's that when I say, "Game over" that early in a game, I'm clearly an idiot.
BC rallied to take a 3-2 lead by the time the halfway point of the period hit. They took a 3-2 lead into the locker room after a wild and whacky first frame that featured 25 shots and 4 penalties between the two teams. The second period featured more offense, but the goalies stood up to the task until there were less than five minutes left. That's when the Gophers' Taylor Cammarata tied the game. From that point on, nothing happened. No goals. No penalties. Nothing else to see here. 3-3 tie.
Okay great. BC tied Minnesota on the first night. That meant the second night would feature more of the same, right? I mean, I think I actually said, "If BC can go 1-0-1 on the weekend, that would be huge."
Minnesota 6. BC 1. Well okay then.
Without further ado, let's jump into it all:
Friday Goaltending: I didn't think Demko played poorly on Friday. Yes, he gave up two goals in the first five minutes, and the first goal came off a terrible rebound that he probably shouldn't have allowed. But it's easy to forget that he's a freshman, and those mistakes will happen. All in all, he matched Adam Wilcox, a draft choice of the Tampa Bay Lightning and overall bad ass goalie, save for save in the end. Minnesota had 39 shots; BC had 34. Neither team had a victory. That's a good sign for Demko going forward, especially since Brian Billett laid an egg on Sunday.
Tip of the hat as well to Wilcox, who picked up his 30th win in his 44th start on Sunday. He has a save percentage over 93% this year and a GAA well under two. His career GAA is .924. He came as advertised on the weekend and made some truly phenomenal saves that any other goalie would've given up. The Lightning have to be licking their chops waiting for him to come in and solidify their backstop situation.
Friday's first period: The first period was an electric display of offense, defense, and everything in between. It was like watching the Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns fight when it went three rounds and Hagler flat out knocked Hagler into February. In a truly great fight, two fighters go toe-to-toe and deliver their best shots, then nod at each other to go two more rounds. They rarely have anything left in the tank for those two rounds.
Fans of hockey would've loved the first period because it gave them everything they could've wanted in a display. It had heroes coming through on both sides, a comeback from down multiple goals, and amazing saves - all in the first ten minutes. I love hockey.
Sunday: Everything about it was anticlimactic to Friday's game. The offenses got chances, evident by a shot total of 32-32 for the teams. But Minnesota scored four in the first period and decided enough was enough out of the Eagles. Four of the first seven Gopher shots went in (more on that later). The game was effectively over after two periods, but that's when Minnesota dropped a couple more on BC just for good measure. 6-1 is severe butt hurt.
Brian Billett: Billett had to have known that the net was never going to be 100% his coming into the season. Demko was so highly touted coming in, and in two years, the junior had played only 10 games after living in the shadow of Parker Milner. So there was going to be an instant goaltender controversy. But Jerry York did everything he could to let a timeshare exist and let Billett get reps to try and rise to the occasion. At best, BC would end up with a great tandem that could take on any team. At worst, they'd have to make a decision and probably bench Billett since a weak freshman taking shots can help develop him for later on.
Four of the first seven shots isn't on the defense. And while I'm hard on him for that, Billett's stats in the first couple weeks is hard to ignore. 3.88 GAA. .862 save percentage. 69 saves on 80 shots. He needs at least one more shot to put this one behind him in a winnable game, not in a war with the top-ranked team in the nation. But a bad showing this weekend puts him squarely as the #2 on the depth chart - Northeastern might be ranked, but they still haven't beaten anyone of higher caliber.
BC's power play: I know that Johnny Gaudreau scored his goal on the power play on Friday, but the Eagles went 0-for-6 on Sunday after going 1-for-3 on Friday. That type of inconsistency is killing them. There's no reason why BC shouldn't have been able to close the gap and make the score a little bit closer with their chances in the second and third. But they didn't.
The Shootout: I don't get it. The game goes into the books as a tie. But because the Big Ten is going to use shootouts to determine conference seeding for games, they feel the urge to do it in non-conference games. Here's what you need to know:
-If a game is tied, it goes into NCAA books as a tie, regardless of if it's a conference game or not.
-They can play a shootout to determine who wins, but that only determines who plays who in the conference tournament and does nothing to determine anything in regards of the Pairwise Rankings or the national rankings.
-So BC wins the shootout behind goals by Bill Arnold and Patrick Brown, but it means nothing and doesn't do anything to help BC out. Shouldn't BC have gotten a split on the weekend instead of going 0-1-1? It doesn't make sense. Just a needless way to increase potential for needless injury or shoot a goalie's confidence to crap in the right scenario. It clearly didn't help BC on Sunday. The NCAA needs to make it clear - are we going with the NHL rule or not? I hate the shootout when it doesn't mean anything.