Are the Eagles in trouble?
On Friday night in Orono, Maine, the #4 Boston College Eagles men’s ice hockey team lost to the Maine Black Bears in overtime, 4-3. The loss has dropped BC to 14-9-1 on the season, and they are two points behind BU for the Hockey East lead.
The Eagles got on the board first as Bill Arnold found the net for a 4-on-3 power play goal, his 12th score of the season, just 3:20 into the contest (Hayes and Dumoulin assisted). Maine hit back about five minutes later, however, with Adam Shemansky scoring his seventh goal (Beattie and Hegarty assisted). Chris Kreider had appeared to score a goal to give the Eagles a 2-0 advantage, but it was waved off, and shortly thereafter, Maine tied the game.
Beattie was heard again in the second period, scoring a little over two minutes in to give the Black Bears a 2-1 lead (Parker and Pryor assisted). Late in the second, however, Will O’Neill of Maine went to the penalty box for tripping, and Barry Almeida made them pay at 15:48, tying the game at 2-2 (Dumoulin and Mullane assisted).
Dumoulin got his third point of the game at 4:03 of the third period on his fourth goal of the year, giving the Eagles a 3-2 lead which they were able to hold for most of the period. As fate would have it, fortune would turn quickly for BC as Steven Whitney went to the box on a hit from behind, and Patrick Wey got rung up for a cross check fifteen seconds later, giving Maine a 5-on-3 advantage. It was an opportunity that Maine did not pass on, as Adam Shemansky scored his second goal of the game which tied things up at 3-3 (Diamond and Flynn assisted).
The Eagles were able to hold for overtime, but between Maine goalie Dan Sullivan and BC’s Chris Venti, Venti cracked first, as Maine scored on their second shot of the sudden death period at 3:42. Matt Mangene’s fifth goal of the season gave the Black Bears a 4-3 overtime win (Anthione and Nemec assisted).
Boston College outshot the Black Bears 36-33; Chris Venti saved 29 shots in the loss, while Sullivan saved 33 in his tenth win of the season. In good news, the Eagles went 2-4 in power plays, but the one penalty they did not kill was a critical 5-on-3 late in the third that tied the game for Maine, and set them up for the loss.
Clearly, the concern here now for Boston College and their fans is the recent play of this team. Including their 3-2 loss at UMass-Lowell in the first-half finale on December 9, the Eagles are 2-4-1. BC’s only two wins since dominating Providence on December 6 have been a lousy Michigan Tech team and ninth-place Northeastern at Frozen Fenway. No question about it: this is not merely a brief slump; there is something noticeably “off” about this team right now. BC has not been impressive at all lately, and it’s almost a bit of a mystery that they have been able to retain their top 5 ranking for this long after a stretch of mediocre to poor play.
Regarding the team as a whole, is it time to begin panicking? Probably not. Eagles fans should remain patient and observe how this team plays going forward. If we cross into February and things are still proceeding at a below-average level up to and through the Beanpot, then it would appear we have a problem. As for now, while BC’s play is not good, and has not been for a multi-game stretch since December, there is still time for them to turn it around.