Editor's Note: Grant is on vacation like a jerk, so I'll be filling in for this weekend's recaps. I don't have the GIF machine, sorry y'all. -JG
We all know that Notre Dame this season isn't exactly Boston University, or even Providence or Lowell—but they're on a pretty good stretch right now after a slow start, and will certainly be a team to be reckoned with in the postseason. That's why it was so impressive and exciting to see Boston College put in perhaps their best full 60-minute performance in about a month on Friday night in a 2-0 victory over the Fighting Irish at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
With the victory, Boston College is assured of at least a top-4 spot in the Hockey East playoffs, earning a first round bye and ensuring a home playoff series in two weeks. Depending on how things play out tonight, BC could slide as low as 4th, or could, with the right combination of circumstances, end up with the #1 seed. Brian lays out all the scenarios nicely here.
Most importantly, though, BC's win solidifies their spot at #9 in the Pairwise rankings, fairly safely above the bubble. I don't want to jinx it, so I won't say they're a lock to make the tournament—but I will say that they are in very good shape. I believe the worst that can happen to them tonight is falling to #11. With a win tonight, BC would have a chance of climbing past Denver to #8.
Okay, that was a lot of big-picture stuff. Let's get to the game.
It feels like in recent weeks the story for BC has been that the first line of Adam Gilmour, Alex Tuch and Zach Sanford has been able to control opponents, but the other lines have really struggled to find any consistency. Not last night. Just about everyone played well.
Gilmour, Tuch and Sanford were still the most dominant force on the ice, combining for 18 shot attempts between the three of them,but other units played their part. The "fourth line" (though I wouldn't really call them that at this point) of Cam Spiro, Matt Gaudreau and Teddy Doherty used their speed to give Notre Dame fits all night and put together several strong scoring opportunities, combining for 11 shot attempts of their own.
But neither of those units put BC on the board first—that honor went to the Straight/Cangelosi/Fitzgerald line, with a little help from an absolute beauty of a shot by Ian McCoshen.
The really crappy highlights package Notre Dame put up for this does not do much justice to the wonderful play and tremendous snipe by Ian McCoshen, but a tweet by College Hockey News' Joe Meloni did:
What Ian McCoshen just did to that poor post should be illegal.— Joe Meloni (@JoeMeloni) February 28, 2015
Yeah, pretty much. The rocket off the post and in gave BC a well-deserved lead, but they weren't done jumping on the Irish in the first period. Three minutes after McCoshen's goal, Alex Tuch added another at 16:45, culminating a period of outstanding play by the Tuch line that honestly could have resulted in even more scoring. BC carried a 2-0 lead into the locker room, and that's how the game would stay the rest of the way.
The second period was arguably BC's best of the game, outshooting ND 17-11 and having several near-misses that could have extended the lead. Perhaps most impressively, the Eagles went the entire period without taking a penalty, a pretty rare occurrence this season. On the whole, they only took three penalties and killed them all off.
Although Notre Dame poured on 14 shots in the third period, it rarely felt too threatening; BC did a great job of preventing many grade A chances, and Thatcher Demko showed his skill and flexibility in preventing ND from scoring on the few great chances they did get. While shots on goal ended 35-35, BC's edge in overall shot attempts, 63-50, better reflects a game where BC looked like the better team.
The regular season concludes tonight with one more game against the Irish, a 6 PM start on the NBC Sports Network. If BC wins it, we all get to flip over to NESN and hope Northeastern can down BU to give BC a share of the "Dick Umile Cup" as regular season Hockey East co-champions. If BC loses, the focus will be more on who's below them in Hockey East (Lowell, Providence) and who's below them in the PWR (Quinnipiac, and Providence again).
Either way, they're in a pretty good spot compared to where they were entering the third period on Monday at TD Garden. Perhaps we're seeing this team start to peak again. Another win tonight would be a good sign.