GAME NOTES (1/17): BOSTON COLLEGE vs. BOSTON UNIVERSITY
BOSTON COLLEGE vs. BOSTON UNIVERSITY:
When these two teams get together, thereís something about the rivalry that seems to almost always bring out the best (and worst) in each of these teams and make it a must-see game. Tonight would be no exception. This was the back end of the home & home series, shifting down Commowealth Avenue to Walter Brown Arena, where the BU Terriers call home. The ever-dangerous Boston College Eagles would meet up with the conference struggling BU Terriers in a mtachup that features lots of high-flying, hard hitting action. When everything was said and done, it would be BC would complete the sweep of their Commonwealth Avenue rivals....but this particular win would come at a very high price for BC.
The most noticeable absence for BC was Team captain Ben Eaves (PIT) who is currently out with a knee injury (Eaves also didnít play in last nightís game).
The Eagles came out flying right from the get-go. They were on the loose pucks early and often. BU freshman netminder, Stephen Siwiec who got the surprise start over usual BU starter, senior Sean Fields, was tested early. It took awhile for BU to finally get themselves into the game, but when they did, they made their presence felt.....literally! Two areas where BU excels are in their ultra aggressive forechecking and delivering some bone-jarring hits. These aspects throughout various times of the game were effective in countering BCís exceptional transition game. For the first half of the game, the pace was quite intense for both teams and the action was fast and for the most part, end to end. However, at the 8:29 mark, this would all change, when Terriers sophomore defenseman Dan Spang (SJ) would be called for a high-stick, putting BC on the power play. It wouldnít take the Eagles long to capitalise. At the 8:45 mark senior defenseman J. D. Forrest (CAR) gets the Eagles on the board. It begins with a nice faceoff win by BC senior Tony Voce. Voce then gains possession and passes off to Eagles sophomore Patrick Eaves (OTT) who does a nice job of wheeling around with the puck then gets himself into a shooting position. Eaves then unloads a bullet at Terriers sophomore netminder Stephen Siwiec. Siwiec makes a nice kick-out pad save. Forrest then darts in from the left point, fends off Terriers sophomore David VanderGulik (CGY) to pick up the rebound and flip it past Siwiec for the goal. Eaves and junior defenseman Andrew Alberts (BOS) would draw the assists.
One of the early matchups in this game was the battle between Eaves and Terriers junior defenseman Ryan Whitney (PIT). Eaves was more than a handful for Whitney, as he had trouble containing the talented BC sophomore forward. However, when Eaves made an attempt to contain Whitney, he drew a holding call, which put BU on the power play. One area where BC is probably the best in the nation at is on the penalty kill, where they are a staggering 94% effective. This time would be no different. BU, despite excellent puck movement and pressure on the Eagles penalty killers, couldnít capitalise. The Terriers were quite persistent throughout much of this game, particularly in the area of jumping on and to loose pucks. At the 15:44 mark, things got a little chippy as BU sophomore forward John Laliberte (VAN) decided to exchange some not-so-pleasant words and shoves with the towering BC freshman forward Brian Boyle (LA).
At about the 17:30 mark, the Eagles got a scare when Patrick Eaves went down to block BU freshman defenseman Kevin Schaefferís hard, heavy shot and took the shot (ALL of it) around the upper chest area. After taking the shot, Eaves somehow managed get off a clearing attempt before collapsing onto the ice. Eaves was motionless on the ice for a couple of minutes. The good news for BC was that Eaves was able to get off the ice under his own power with the help of his teammates. According to BC head coach Jerry York Eaves sustained a chest laceration and possibly some broken bones. Eaves was taken to a nearby hospital to have Xrays and other tests done to determine the extent of the injury.
When play resumed, the further depleted BC Eagles, picked up right where they left off and continue to try and dictate the game with their excellent speed and transition game. At the 19:56 mark, Laliberte would draw and interference penalty, putting the Eagles on the powr play once again. When the horn sounded to end the period, BCís Andrew Alberts and BUís David VanderGulik would receive matching roughing minors for their tussle at periodís end.
The 2nd period began with BC on the power play and without the services of Patrick Eaves. However, with the depth in personnel that BC has, other players would begin to step in and step up for the Eagles. The Eagles continued to press their fast-paced game on the Terriers, but the Terriers would continue to play their aggressive, tight checking game. They picked up their physical play a bit in the period and as a result were taking away some of BCís territorial advantages. An area that would haunt the Terriers for the latter two periods would be turnovers. At the 7:30 mark, Eagles sophomore Stephen Gionta would make the Terriers pay. It begins with a turnover by BUís Ryan Whitney in the BC zone. Gionta intercepts the puck and skates in further into the BU zone with it. Just as heís about to run out of real estate, Gionta gets off a weird angle flip shot that Siwiec misplays and slides just under Siwiecís left pad and into the net for the score. Siwiec had apparently got his left foot caught just inside the left post that prevented him to move it and thus adjust his positioning to face Gionta. The unassisted goal put the Eagles up 2-0.
At about the 9 minute mark, freshman forward Kenny Roche (NYR) appeared to have finally gotten BU on the board. However, the goal was waived off due to the fact that a BU player was in the crease, and the puck wasnít there with him. Itís was a pity that the goal didnít count too because Roche made a terrific individual effort to get the goal. He retrieved the puck from behind the BC net, then wheeled around toward the front of the net. In the process of doing so, Roche did an excellent job of going around BC senior defenseman Brett Peterson and drawing BC netminder junior Matti Kaltiainen (BOS) out further from his crease and swept the puck behind Kaltiainen and into the net. So with the disallowed goal, BU was still looking at a 2-goal deficit.
At the 15:26 mark, things would start getting nasty once again, as BC senior Tony Voce takes a poke at Roche and in the process rides him into the BC. For his actions, Voce would earn a trip to the penalty box on a roughing call, putting the Terriers on the power play once again. Just minutes prior to the penalty, BU was doing some excellent hard work along the boards and winning the battles to loose pucks. At the 16:30 mark, on the power play, that hard work would pay off. It begins with a carry-in by VanderGulik. When in the BC zone, VanderGulik gets knocked off the puck by BC defenseman J. D. Forrest. BU team captain, senior Mark Mullen is there to retrieve the loose puck. Mullen then passes off to an oncoming junior forward Brian McConnell (CGY). McConnell then makes an absolutely beautiful drop pass between his legs to Whitney, who proceeds to fire a rocket at the BC net. Kaltiainen makes the save but gives a rebound just to his right side. There to flip it in was VanderGulik. VanderGulik somehow managed to keep his stick on the ice and fend off Giontaís back check to get the goal. Whitney and McConnell would draw the assists on VanderGulikís power play goal. This now made the score 2-1 in favour of BC. The aggressive play and chippiness would continue to the end of the period.
The final period had BU finishing off a power play that BCís Andrew Alberts was handed with just a minute left in the 2nd period. BU failed to score on the remainder of the power play. As if things didnít look bad enough for the Terriers, they lost lead scorer, senior forward Kenny Magowan to a knee injury that he sustained towards the end of the 2nd period. However, the Terriers would continue to persistent and fight. They got a little laxed in the neutral zone and at one point gave up a 2-1 one chance. Thanks to some excellent heads up play by freshman defenseman Kevin Schaeffer to takeaway the passing lane, BC failed to extend their lead. Later, at the 7:15 mark Whitney would cause another costly turnover for BU. Whitney makes a very poor clearing attempt just inside the BU blueline and ends up turning it over to Eagles junior forward Ryan Murphy (LA). As a result of the turnover, it creates a 3-2 rush further into the BC zone. Murphy then passes off to senior forward Ty Hennes. Hennes then skates a few strides before letting off a shot that ends up going through the BU creaseand to the right boards. There to retrieve the loose puck was BC junior defenseman Greg Lauze who then proceeds to fling it at the BU net. Siwiec appeared to have made the save, but the puck was loose once again just to his right. In a maze of body just to Siwiecís right, Murphy ends up with the puck and then proceeds to flip it first backwards then forward towards the front of the net, where the puck finds its way under Siwiec. Siwiec ends up putting the puck into his own when he moves his left leg and in so doing sweeps the puck that had rested just behind his left pad into the net. Murphy would be credited with the fluky goal, with Lauze and Hennes drawing the assists. The goal extended BCís lead to 3-1. Later in the period, the persistence and hard work down low by BU would pay off yet again. It begins right off the draw that appeared to be won by BC. BU junior forward, who took the draw, was able to move the puck toward Mullen with his skate amid the chaos that followed the draw. Mullen then gains possession and wheels around with the puck to pass off to Schaeffer, who was parked at the left point. Schaeffer then proceeds to fire a hard wrister at the BC net that ends up missing the net altogether but does rebound off the backboards. As the puck is coming towards the front of the net again, BU junior forward fights his way to the right side of Kultiainen, and makes a nice tip pass back to BUís Mark Mullen, whose wide open in the slot area. Mullen then proceeds to fire a one-timer at the BC net that finds its way in just over Kaltiainenís shoulder for the score. Klema and Schaeffer would draw the assists. This made the score 3-2. As the period wound down, BU really picked up their intensity and sense of urgence as they tried mightily to tie up the score. By this time, BC went into prevent defense mode and did a nice job of not allowing the Terriers to get set up in their zone and breaking up passes. With just over a minute left in regulation, BU had pulled Siwiec for the extra attacker, but in the process lost much of their sense of urgency as BC was determined to complete the sweep. When the final buzzer sounded, the Eagles did just that.
What won the game for BC was their exceptional transaction game, penalty kill (despite giving up a power play goal) and the ability to seize their opportunities. Turnovers and some poor plays by Siwiec led to BUís downfall. However, BU was quite persistent much of the game. Matti Kaltiainen played arguably his best game of the year tonight, making some absolutely brilliant saves particularly in the middle part of the 3rd period when BU started to really come on. Kaltiainen showed some excellent positional play as well as lateral movement in this game that helped his team to a win. Aside from Kaltiainen, Ryan Murphy played an exceptional game when he was one of the players called on to fill the gap left by Patrick Eaves. His aggressive play with the puck along with speed and tenacity netted him the game-winning goal. Defensemen J. D. Forrest and Andrew Alberts played exceptionlly well for the Eagles on the blueline. Both players were effective in shutting down many of the Terriersí top forwards as well as help create plays that led to goals or at the very least very good BC scoring chances. For BU, the line combo of David VanderGulik-Mark Mullen-Brian McConnell was brilliant. What made this line work so well (in additioning to having a hand in both BU goals) was the aggressive forechecking and physical play that was driving many of the BC players crazy. All were excellent in their play along the boards and contributed some excellent scoring opportunities on the power plays. If McConnell can park himself IN FRONT of instead of BESIDE the opposing netminder, BU could see more success on their future power plays. In addition to the Mullen line, the play of freshman defenseman Kevin Schaeffer was exceptional. Schaeffer, who is NHL draft eligible this summer, will certainly get a very good look by many NHL teams. He has been the best story for BU this season, who seems to get better and better with each game. Heís also quite effective both offensively and defensively. Another Terriers defenseman who had a very good game was sophomore Dan Spang. His excellent skating ability was evident in his ability to keep up with many of BC's speedy forwards, which also enabled him to be effective in shutting them down or at the very least slow them down and keep them in check.