Boston College and Northeastern were desperate for Hockey East points coming into this weekend’s home-and-home set. The Eagles managed to get three of them.
Following a 1-1 tie at Matthews Arena Friday night, the Eagles capitalized on home ice, beating the Huskies 4-2 in what was an overall success of a weekend for Jerry York’s team.
“I think we’ve gradually improved as a team in all facets,” York said. “Our goaltending’s better, just our overall team play is better.”
The Eagles (12-7-2) came into the game 7-2-2 in their last 11 games after a mediocre 5-5 start to begin the year. Northeastern (7-11-3), similarly entered the matchup on a 7-3-2 tear of their own after starting the year 0-8-1.
All eyes were on goalies Thatcher Demko and Clay Witt Saturday afternoon after the two put on a goaltending clinic in Friday’s tie, combining to stop 50 of the 52 shots they faced.
“I thought their goaltender was really good,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said. “He made some terrific saves. And us not being able to execute on the power play, which we’ve been very good [at] this year, were the two difference makers in the game.”
Even with two five-on-three opportunities, the Huskies could not capitalize, despite entering the game with a red hot power play that tallied its fifth goal of the week on the man advantage Friday night.
Northeastern drew first blood on Saturday at the 8:40 mark of the first period, courtesy of Torin Snydeman. Mike Szmatula, who was standing directly to the right of Demko, dished the puck out in front to Snydeman, who slipped it into the back of the net.
Northeastern continued to threaten the Eagles, including a rocket from Nolan Stevens that Demko was able to catch with the glove.
Boston College tied the game at the 18:03 mark of the first period on Mike Matheson’s second goal of the season. The defenseman took a wrist shot off a pass from Teddy Doherty that sailed over the shoulder of Witt.
It only took the Eagles 52 seconds to take the lead on Chris Calnan’s first of two goals on the night. The sophomore found a rebound floating in front of Witt, and amid a platoon of bodies in the crease buried it home.
“I didn’t think we had a lot of energy to start the game,” Madigan said, “I don’t know what it was, we just didn’t have that sense of urgency. I think by scoring the first goal, it might of been a false hope of impression there that we were playing well. It’s not like we were playing bad, we were just average.”
Northeastern came out firing in the second period, outshooting the Eagles 17-9. Thatcher Demko continued to hold the fort, stopping everything and anything in his sight.
Midway through the period, even with Ryan Fitzgerald in the box for an elbowing penalty, Calnan scored his second of the night to make it a two-goal game.
Calnan, who was standing behind Witt, sent a shot off the back of his pads and into the net for the short-handed goal. It would stand as the only goal of the period.
At the 13:26 mark of third period, the Huskies closed to within one. John Stevens gave Trevor Owens a pass at the blue line that he quickly fired on goal. After Demko made the initial stop, Ryan Rosenthal crashed the net and buried the rebound home to pull the Huskies within one.
Immediately following the goal, Zach Aston-Reese got called for a tripping penalty, giving Boston College a man advantage. Like the Eagles have done so many times over the years against the Huskies, they capitalized, putting the game away once and for all. Adam Gilmour took a pass from Zach Sanford and quickly one-timed it on Witt. The puck sailed through a couple defenders and eventually into the back of the net to make it 4-2.
Northeastern pulled Witt with 48 seconds remaining, but nothing materialized, giving Boston College the win.
“I thought similar to last night, Thatcher gave us a great base to win the hockey game with,” York said. “Special teams, the power-play goal, the ability to kill those two 5-on-3’s and just a 60-minute play from Thatcher Demko was the catalyzed that hold serve these home-and-homes.”