When top-ranked Boston College scored just 42 seconds into Sunday’s game with No. 11 Boston University, it looked like the crowd of 6,150 could be in for a scoring spree.
That finally happened, but only after 50 scoreless minutes.
The arrivals exchanged five goals in the last nine minutes, as BC pulled out a 4-2 win in a tightly-contested Hockey East battle.
Kevin Hayes notched a goal and an assist for the visiting Eagles, but the real story was the great goaltending of BC senior Parker Milner (25 saves) and BU freshman Matt O’Connor (20 saves).
“Games like this help both of our teams get better,” BC coach Jerry York said. “We push each other. Win or lose, we’re going to be better because of the game we played. They benefit both teams – the skating, the checking – just good hockey for both teams. It was a little bit fractured because there were so many penalties, but even with that, you’ve got exceptional goaltending on both ends and teams making good plays. I love that – not a lot of dump and chase.”
“I thought it was an exciting game to be involved with [and] it was an exciting game to watch,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “I was amazed that the score was what it was at the end of the second period with all the power plays, but both teams did a great job of killing penalties.”
BU pressed the play for the first half-minute, only to have BC (8-1-0, 7-1-0 Hockey East) score on its first shot of the game. Behind the BU net, Hayes curled a pass through the crease, where right wing Destry Straight banged it home.
That would be the extent of the scoring for a long, long while.
BC’s team defense played an extremely stingy game for the first two periods, limiting BU to few shots and an almost negligible number of real scoring chances. Meanwhile, O’Connor made several terrific saves to keep it 1-0, starting with a great glove save on Bill Arnold in the last minute of the first period.
BU (5-3-0, 4-2-0) also managed to kill of a long five-on-three that was broken up by the first intermission.
After getting shut down for much of the first 40 minutes, BU finally tested Milner repeatedly in the final period. BU sophomore Cason Hohmann, who personally drew three BC penalties tonight, had a quasi-breakaway while shorthanded early in the third period, but Milner made the pad save on his backhander toward the far side.
BC counterpunched with a pair of great chances by Arnold and Hayes, only to have O’Connor come up with what Parker called “ten-bell saves.”
Ironically, BC finally scored on a bit of a broken play. Hayes came in on the left wing on a two-on-one with Quinn Smith, only to fan on his attempt to pass. Forced to shoot, he shot it right into defenseman Sean Escobedo, sliding to block it. The puck went behind the goal line, where Hayes threw it at the net, and it banked off of O’Connor and in.
“I thought the biggest goal of the game was the two-on-one,” Parker said. “We got caught in deep. Actually, we just didn’t read it right. We had two guys coming back. If our forward and our ‘D’ communicated differently, we would’ve been able to play it properly. It wasn’t a lack of effort. They both looked at each other instead of one guy taking charge.”
BC made it 3-0 less than two minutes later when Johnny Gaudreau was left unmarked for an easy tap-in.
The game seemed just about over, but then Matt Grzelcyk scored on his own rebound from the left-wing circle for his first collegiate goal to make it 3-1.
Parker pulled his goalie while on a power play with two minutes left, only to have Arnold flip a long backhander into the empty net at 18:02.
Alexx Privitera got that one back on a long wrist shot from the point just 41 seconds later, but that’s how it ended.
“I thought we hung in pretty well against the No. 1 team in the nation,” Parker said, adding that BC is the best team he’s seen thus far this season.