Ah, opening night -- you get the chance to wash the bad taste of a season-ending loss out of your mouth and start anew. Fresh ice, fresh excitement... and then the game happens. Despite taking an early 1-0 lead against Lowell, the Eagles dropped a tough 5-2 decision at Tsongas Arena.
It was Banner Night for the River Hawks, who hoisted their shiny new Hockey East champions banner into the rafters. Lowell fans were loud and in the game early, but it was BC who would get on the board first.
Goal #1 -- 2:26 of the 1st period: Chris Calnan (Teddy Doherty, Thatcher Demko)
BC 1, UML 0
Get used to this, because this is something you're going to see a lot from BC this year -- a defenseman jumping into the play and creating opportunities. Doherty takes an outlet pass from Demko (who earned an assist) and shimmies past a Lowell defender, and the Eagles see some daylight. Tuch clears out the front of the net (boy, did he ever...) and Calnan wraps around behind to chip home the first goal of the season.
Watch Tuch in the GIF above. Did you catch it? Let's take a different angle...
How on earth this didn't even get reviewed for goalie interference will be one of the great mysteries of our time, but after a short discussion the goal stood and BC was up 1-0. But man oh man, Tuch just WWE choke-slammed that guy into his own goalie. Hilarious.
Unfortunately the feel-good start wouldn't last. Lowell goals at 7:57, 12:10, and 14:43 of the first period sent the River Hawks into the locker room with what felt like a commanding 3-1 lead. And indeed, the Eagles ended the first period with no pressure at all.
That would continue into the second. Despite not registering a goal, Lowell would fire off 9 of the first 10 shots of the second period. At that point things were looking pretty dim for BC, but improved play toward the end of the frame saw BC end on 4 straight shots, and capitalizing on one of their best chances of the game thus far.
Goal #2 -- 18:19 of the 2nd period: Ryan Fitzgerald (Austin Cangelosi)
UML 3, BC 2
New life! Hockey's a funny game. After looking totally dead for most of the first and nearly all of the second, a great individual effort from Fitzgerald finds the back of the net. He stick checks the puck away from the Lowell defender, and after the puck ping-pongs around the skates of Cangelosi, he finds the puck on his stick with a clear lane to Lowell goalie Kevin Boyle.
Boyle does a pretty good job of sealing off the low post, but Fitzgerald finds enough room up high to rifle home the goal to cut the River Hawk lead down to 1 going into the last intermission.
But that was the closest BC would get. The Eagles played well to start the third period, but after an uninspiring power play 5 minutes in, BC misfired on a pass and was called for icing. Lowell took possession on the ensuing faceoff, skated around Destry Straight, and put home the back breaking goal to go back up 4-2.
After a late empty netter, we had our final of 5-2.
It was definitely a sub-par game but I don't feel like jumping off the Tobin like I thought I would. The offense was uninspired, the power play was dreadful, the penalty kill was disappointing, and the defense, what should have been our strength, allowed Lowell to put 4 past Thatcher Demko, who also played just okay.
But despite all that, it looks like a classic "well, it's early" game. The defense is young and should tighten up over the course of the season. The power play and penalty kill were both #1 in Hockey East last season and lost a lot of pieces. It will take time for those units to start to gel. The offense... well, what we saw is probably what we're going to get, but once the defense as a unit improves that's going to generate more goals up front.
So, it was an unacceptable loss but I'm hopeful for improvement. Next week BC heads up to the Blue Cross Arena to take on RIT in another one-game weekend and hopes to get into the win column.
I will leave you all with a GIF of a very drunk Kesha Jr. in a cut-up Lowell shirt.
See you all next week.