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GOAL BY GOAL: Fitzgerald Hat Trick Lifts Boston College Hockey Over UConn

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A new rivalry is emerging

BC Heights

Anyone who has frequented these parts knows that a few of us are pretty miffed at Hockey East expansion and how it disturbed the bus league dynamic of the conference.

But as is quickly becoming obvious, UConn is not part of that problem. Another game against the Huskies produced another instant classic, with one of the best Conte Forum atmospheres of the season and a close, fierce contest between two teams who are quickly becoming rivals.

After falling behind twice, Ryan Fitzgerald completed a hat trick and Thatcher Demko put the team on his shoulders to lift Boston College to a 3-2 victory over UConn.

Who else thinks we should relegate Notre Dame instead of UConn?

UConn Goal #1 (PPG): 10:13 of the 1st period
Ryan Segalla (Johnny Austin, Trevor Gerling)

UConn 1, BC 0

#ICEBUS TRACKER: Has BC ever been in the lead against UConn? NO

What an incredibly frustrating first period for BC. The Eagles dominated the whole period and outshot UConn a healthy 15-6, but it was UConn on the board first thanks to a power play goal.

BC's penalty kill has been a bit of a struggle lately. On this goal they can't control the puck on a scrum in front of the net and UConn drops the puck back out to the blue line. Segalla takes a shot through heavy traffic—seven jerseys in all—and it gets through Demko to put UConn up 1-0.

#ICEBUS TRACKER: Has BC ever been in the lead against UConn? NO

Boston College Goal #1 (PPG): 16:40 of the 2nd period
Ryan Fitzgerald (Michael Matheson, Austin Cangelosi)

BC 1, UConn 1

#ICEBUS TRACKER: Has BC ever been in the lead against UConn? NO

BC is finally on the board against the Huskies! And a power play goal at that.

Cangelosi skates out from below the net and sends it back to Matheson who takes the shot in. It's well wide—no harm done, from UConn's perspective. But Fitzgerald gathers the puck in and holds it long enough to get Nichols, who is actually pretty nicely in position, to bite and try to poke the puck away.

As soon as that happens, he's dead to rights, although Fitzgerald has to execute on the finish. He does beautifully, taking the puck below the goal line, back up, and in the net to tie the game for the Eagles.

BC stayed tied for exactly 23 seconds.

UConn Goal #2: 17:03 of the 2nd period
Joona Kunnas (Brent Norris, Johnny Austin)

UConn 2, BC 1

#ICEBUS TRACKER: Has BC ever been in the lead against UConn? NO

It's a cardinal rule of hockey that you have to come out hard in the next shift after a goal. BC did not do that.

You have to give credit to UConn though as this was pretty nice execution. Kunnas sneaks in behind the BC defender—I think that's Santini?—who loses track of his man for just a split second. Norris threads the needle on this pass really, really well (that's a really nice pass) and Kunnas just has to whack it home past Demko.

Frustrating.

Boston College Goal #2: 19:06 of the 2nd period
Ryan Fitzgerald (Austin Cangelosi)

BC 2, UConn 2

#ICEBUS TRACKER: Has BC ever been in the lead against UConn? NO

Fitzgerald again, finding the right place at the right time on this pass from Cangelosi. The puck gets deflected up and somehow FItzgerald is able to get something of his stick on it. It bounces around past Nichols and BC is tied up again just in time for the 2nd intermission.

BC scratched and clawed its way back twice in this game. They would finally complete the comeback.

Boston College Goal #3 (PPG) (HT) (GWG): 12:20 of the 3rd period
Ryan Fitzgerald (Michael Matheson, Teddy Doherty)

BC 3, UConn 2 -- FINAL

#ICEBUS TRACKER: Has BC ever been in the lead against UConn? YES!

Oh thank the sweet baby Jesus that we did not lose this game.

Don't look now, but suddenly the power play is actually a strength for this team. Since the start of the 2nd half, BC is tied for 3rd in the country with 8 power play goals—a respectable 15th in success rate at 22.2%.

This is a nice example of a good power play. There's some typical perimeter passing, yeah, but it's with a purpose. Watch it develop: by the time Fitzgerald takes his shot, UConn is pinched in tight and all 5 Eagles are below the Faceoff circle. That is an aggressive attack.

Now with all the players down low, BC is probably hoping that one of the Eagles down low gets open for a better shot. As it is, everyone is covered, but the benefit here of everyone being pinched in low is that Nichols is going to be looking through a couple jerseys pretty much no matter what.

So, Fitzgerald takes a shot—a laser of a shot, ticketed for the corner of the net—and finds the back of the net to give BC the lead.

The end of the game wasn't easy. UConn put on a flurry of shots with the extra attacker, but Thatcher Demko made some absolutely terrific saves, including a hell of a right pad save, followed by this beauty.

As they all are at this point, it was a big win for BC, helping the Eagles climb up to 13th in the Pairwise and rising. More than that, though, it was an exciting game with a great atmosphere. UConn is going to be a fun opponent for a long time.

Embrace the hate, BC fans. It's a lot more fun.