With a four-point weekend in Hockey East play, the Boston College Eagles could have essentially buried one of their main opponents in the conference and put in some breathing room with another.
Instead, BC finds itself in a tenuous second-place behind the Merrimack Warriors, barely holding off the third-place New Hampshire Wildcats. At the moment, the Warriors lead Hockey East with just six games to play. Merrimack has 27 points, BC stands at 26, New Hampshire has 25, and BU and Providence both have 24.
After their three-game win streak which culminated in their fourth Beanpot title in a row, it figured that the Eagles would simply start getting on a roll. After all, it’s what they’ve done in previous successful seasons. Endings like last season’s 19-straight wins are highly uncommon and there are likely to be bumps in the road, but it probably came as a big surprise to the BC faithful to watch their team lose to Merrimack near the end of overtime and skate to a tie with New Hampshire at home.
How does this happen? BC played a sub-par game in North Andover on Friday night in which they committed ten minor penalties, the tenth of which resulted in the power play that gave Merrimack its winning goal. On Sunday afternoon, the Eagles managed only 26 shots on goal in 65 minutes of playing time while giving UNH seven power plays. In fairness, Boston College did score two power play goals on Sunday.
One might have assumed that BC was well on its way to “figuring things out” in February, but one point out of four possible is a disappointing weekend by any stretch, especially when the price is first place. As demonstrated in the standings, another similarly bad weekend in the near future could put BC in fourth. In that respect, this was somewhat of a catastrophe for BC, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be overstated.
Despite having managed just one point, the Eagles are still only one point behind — they’ve not exactly been buried. They did, however, miss a tremendous opportunity to take a commanding lead and put themselves in better conference and national tournament position. Furthermore, they’ve allowed the doubts from the previous month to creep back in. This is a bad time of year to show any signs of weakness; BC literally had none last year from February on, and they were rewarded with another national title. If this team wants to hoist the trophy again, they had better get back to what worked for them last week.