Boston College definitely was not screwing around on Monday night.
At the TD Garden, the #5 Boston College Eagles men’s hockey team were victorious in their 60th Beanpot semifinal, taking out the Northeastern Huskies, 7-1. Though it does not count in the Hockey East standings, the Eagles picked up their 17th win of the season and have won three in a row with Parker Milner in net.
The scoring began early thanks to Paul Carey, beating Chris Rawlings at 5:14 in the first to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead (Gaudreau and Mullane assisted). Milner made a nice save down at the other end a few moments later, but then, when the puck was in BC’s offensive zone, a Northeastern player whiffed on the puck in front of his own net, allowing Johnny Gaudreau to snatch it and score his tenth goal of the season, doubling BC’s lead at 2-0 (9:43; unassisted).
Two penalties came against the Eagles in succession, however, and that 5-on-3 resulted in the Huskies’ only score of the night. Anthony Bitetto notched his fourth goal of the season on the two-man advantage at 12:34, cutting BC’s lead in half (Karlsson and Vermeersch assisted).
Now, Boston College’s penalty kill has been very good all year, but in the second period, it was deadly, and that turned the tide well in favor of the Eagles. Chris Kreider went to the penalty box on a hit from behind, but Steven Whitney punished Northeastern with a shorthanded goal at 6:51, increasing BC’s lead to 3-1 (Almeida and Alber assisted). Northeastern’s power play expired otherwise uneventfully, but BC was far from done in the period, as Gaudreau scored his second goal of the game at 8:58 after being set up by a good pass, allowing the Eagles to move ahead 4-1 (Alber and Mullane assisted).
Gaudreau would not be BC’s only two-goal scorer. In fact, he went to the penalty box for tripping, but again, Steven Whitney came up huge with his second shorthanded goal of the period at 13:11, pushing the Eagles ahead 5-1 and signaling to Northeastern that a consolation game awaits them (unassisted).
In the third, Northeastern also did very, very little of note, but that could hardly be said for the Eagles. Evidently not content with a 5-1 lead, Boston College scored twice to close it out: Barry Almeida’s 17th of the season at 8:47 (Dumoulin and Whitney assisted) and Paul Carey’s 9th of the season and second of the game at 17:20 (MacLeod and Shea assisted). Both scores were on power plays, and the last one ensured that three Eagles — Whitney, Gaudreau, and Carey — had multi-goal games.
The pressure on Rawlings and his third-period replacement, Clay Witt, as opposed to Milner can’t be compared. The Eagles outshot the Huskies 2:1, taking an impressive 46 shots on goal while Northeastern only managed 23, and their only score was on a two-man advantage. Boston College’s penalty kill was very solid, stopping Northeastern four of five times and notching two shorthanded goals; their power play, on the other hand, was very good as well, converting on two of their four attempts, both in the third period.
The Eagles had opportunities to score even more throughout the game, but several point-blank chances passed them by. Had they not, BC easily could have put nine goals on the board, but a 7-1 victory is hardly a bad thing.
There was some concern a few weeks ago over how this hockey team was playing. After all, they were 2-5-1 over an eight-game stretch dating back until December, and they did not open 2012 particularly well. As a general rule, however, wait until this team hits February, the Beanpot, and “Trophy Season.” If the Eagles are going to make a run, it will start at around this time of year, and so far, so good. BC has won three in a row and played their best hockey game in a long time on Monday night, putting together a dominant effort from start to finish. There is no telling where this ride will end, but if BC keeps getting hotter now, it could lead to better things next month.
As for this tournament, the next opponents are those other guys down Commonwealth Avenue. BU defeated Harvard, 3-1, in the first seminfinal to set up an intense title game at 7:30pm next Monday. Boston College’s next game, which does count in Hockey East, is on Friday night in Burlington as they take on the Vermont Catamounts, a game which will be on NBC Sports Network.