Carolina Hurricanes draft pick David Cotton scored the game-winning goal last night at Fenway Park in Boston College’s 3-1 win over Providence, but it was two undrafted players, Austin Cangelosi and Michael Kim, who were crucial in nailing down the huge victory.
Cangelosi has turned in to a faceoff wizard the last two years, and it was his faceoff skills that allowed BC to tie the game in the second period - getting low and dropping it on a tee for Kim:
The goal broke a spell in which BC was getting pretty heavily outplayed by Providence. The Eagles dominated the first period, outshooting the Friars 16-4, but as tends to happen in hockey when you’re dominating but don’t score, PC picked up a power play goal to open the scoring in the second. Cangelosi’s faceoff skills and Michael Kim’s awareness (Kim alluded postgame to being ready for set plays off the faceoff) erased the deficit.
Cangelosi is third in the nation in faceoff percentage at .650 (332 won, 179 lost) and #2 in overall number of faceoffs won. The two players ahead of him have 180 and 45 wins. Combining the raw number of faceoff wins and his percentage, it's fair to say Cangelosi is the best faceoff man in the nation - as he was last season. Having a player with that kind of ability usually has a subtle impact on the game but it couldn't have been more noticeable yesterday.
Kim and Cangelosi would both be heard from again in the third period.
Kim, who as we all remember joined the team in January last year as BC had a need to fill a roster spot, has become an indispensible top defenseman for the Eagles this season. His 14 points tie him with Scott Savage as the highest-scoring Eagle defender, but he's also become an impressive physical and defensive presence.
Last night, he made a bold play on a 2-on-1 that helped preserve the 1-1 tie:
It’s not the best video of the play, but Kim did a masterful job of not overcommitting to the man with the puck - but still was in a good enough defensive position to get down and make the block. Given the conditions and Providence’s stout defense, giving up a goal there would have been devastating, but Kim had his goalie’s back and put his team in a position to win it.
Cangelosi joined the 100 career point club to cap off the win, scoring an empty netter to seal the deal:
It was no cheap empty netter either - Cangelosi had to use his trademark speed and vision to break through a pair of Providence defenders and win the race to the puck. And with over a minute to play, this was no mere exclamation point - it relieved what could have been a tense final minute.
Even after last summer’s Great Exodus, BC still has plenty of highly touted NHL prospects on the team. But it continues to be the less-heralded players who are powering BC to crucial wins. May they continue their emergence as the games get bigger and bigger over the next few months.