It was a wild night at Conte Forum as Boston College hockey topped Michigan State 6-4. The game went through some big time momentum swings, as we'll explore as we break down the shot chart from Friday night's game. Be sure to check out Grant's always excellent Goal by Goal recap for highlights and analysis.
Shot Attempts: 25-9 BC
Shots on Goal: 17-6 BC
The first period was a bit frustrating given BC's inability to crack the scoresheet, but the flow of play certainly made it feel like BC was en route to an easy win. Not only did BC completely dominate in terms of overall shot attempts, they also once again did a really good job of preventing much of anything of quality from testing Thatcher Demko. The defense remained in its groove, limiting the Spartans to one shot on goal from the slot area.
On the other side, BC peppered MSU goalie Jake Hildebrand from all over the attacking zone, including both shots from the slot and a number of clear shots through from the point. Also noteworthy from the chart is that three of BC's four lines were very much getting in on the action. The Sanford line imposed itself early and would continue to play well throughout the game; Sanford and Tuch combined for three high quality opportunities early on. Fitzgerald and Matt Gaudreau pop up right around the net, too, and Miles Wood also had a chance on the doorstep to represent the top line. He'd certainly be heard from loudly by the time the night was up.
The story was about to change big time, though.
Shot attempts: 26-17 MSU
Shots on goal: 16-8 MSU
Goals: 2-1 BC
Watching the game live, it didn't really feel like BC was being badly outplayed in the second period, but the shot chart reveals a frame dominated by Michigan State in terms of raw number of opportunities. In reality, it took a pretty magical goal by Colin White to allow BC to carry a narrow lead in to the locker room.
Mackenzie MacEachern (great name) scored MSU's first goal on what was, quite simply, an ugly breakdown (combined with some bad luck of the puck taking a funny hop off the boards) just seconds after BC's opening goal. It sort of changed the whole tenor of the game. Not only was Maceachern wide open in the slot (as you can see from the circledshot by #15) he had a linemate bearing down on net right in the slot with him.
The Spartans' top line of MacEachern, Mason Appleton (#27) and Michael Ferrantino (#20) looked on paper to be the bulk of the Spartans' offensive threat and they delivered on that, combining for two goals and 16 shot attempts. MacEachern had another high quality chance later in the period though Demko was there to make the stop.
Michigan State pretty much peppered Demko with shots from all over the place, including several from decent scoring areas. On the other side, notable is the lack of chances for Austin Cangelosi, Miles Wood and Chris Calnan, who the Spartans did a really good job of bottling up at even strength for most of the game. Cangelosi had one shot on goal in the second period and Wood had one off target. For the game, Cangelosi and Calnan ended up combining for just three attempts, though Wood had 8, largely on the strength of some beastly play on the power play. More on that later.
Shot Attempts: 20-18 MSU
Shots on Goal: 15-11 MSU
Goals: 4-3 BC
Despite BC's complete dominance of the first period, shots on goal in this game wound up being 37-36. That's not good. That said, it honestly never really felt like BC was in danger... until their gigantic collapse giving up three goals in a flash after going up 4-1. This chart can't really account for when the shots took place, but trust me, the Spartans were piling up chances during that breakdown; the goals were no fluke. Thatcher Demko made a phenomenal glove save on #21 Joe Cox right on the doorstep just seconds before Sparty's game tying goal.
Where BC edged past Michigan State in this game was on breakaways and on their late power play. Fitzgerald and Tuch both scored on clean breaks, using their raw speed and skill to beat the stout Hildebrand. At that point, all felt well, before Michigan State came roaring back. BC's first five power play chances were hit or miss, but on chance #6, they hit paydirt, thanks to Miles Wood #28 parked right in the slot, making it happen despite being surrounded by defenders.
BC's decision to move Wood permanently on to one of the two power play units, after temporarily taking a spot when Fitzgerald had to sit out for a game due to suspension, paid immediate dividends; Wood had 4 shots on goal during BC's power plays, while no other forward had more than 1.
Overall, I think the actual shot totals from the second and third periods make the game look a little worse than it was; it really didn't feel like the MSU opportunities were terribly worrisome until that stretch when they scored their three goals. But we can definitely see here that BC had to dig deep to win this game against a committed Michigan State opponent that played pretty well.
This game leaves BC plenty to work on: particularly, staying focused right after scoring goals; avoiding getting too scrambly in their defensive zone when things are going poorly, which was a bit reminiscent of the New Brunswick exhibition. We also saw the BC top line get largely neutralized during even strength play. But this game also saw Colin White continue to emerge as a star, and the combination of Tuch, Sanford and Gilmour having their best game in a while.
The bottom line is that BC is 9-1-0 and they've found multiple ways to win throughout their eight game winning streak. Let's hope the good times roll in to Durham, NH next Saturday.
Even strength shot attempts by line (attempts/on net/goals):
Chris Calnan (1/1), Austin Cangelosi (1/1), Miles Wood (2/2) ... 4 attempts/4 on goal
Alex Tuch (3/1/1), Adam Gilmour (2/0), Zach Sanford (4/2) ... 9 attempts/3 on goal/1 goal
Ryan Fitzgerald (4/4/1), Colin White (4/4/2), Matt Gaudreau (1/1) ... 9 attempts/9 on goal/3 goals
Travis Jeke (2/2), Chris Brown (0/0), JD Dudek (0/0) ... 2 attempts/2 on goal/0 goals