Boston University coach Jack Parker summed up the series against cross-town rival Boston College best on Saturday night when he said: “We were outclassed by a team that is playing at the top of their game.”
While the Eagles may not look exactly like the team that skated to gold in Detroit last April, there was no better time for eighth-ranked BC to get its groove back but by sweeping the home-and-home series against the No. 3 Terriers.
Although not perfect, this weekend’s marquee match-up pinpointed why BC’s squad is finally clicking and why BU is, as the Kelley Rink crowd observed, “overrated.”
The most obvious key to the Eagles’ success is the depth of the bench. As BC coach Jerry York said, “We had contributions from a lot of different people.”
That might be the understatement of the weekend.
Eight different players scored for BC in its resounding 9-5 rout of the Terriers at Agganis Arena on Friday night, with contributions from each of its four lines. The Eagles continued this trend in its 5-2 victory on Saturday, with four skaters on BC’s top three lines lighting the lamp in front of the sellout home crowd.
Of course, championship teams don’t win purely on depth alone. The Eagles have had consistent contributions from some of its marquee players all season, and saw the resurgence of others in this series.
BC winger Cam Atkinson, who is second in Hockey East with 1.31 goals per game and tied for No. 11 in the nation, continued his scoring streak with three goals and a helper on the weekend. Center and linemate Brian Gibbons followed suit, notching a goal and an assist on Friday, and a pair of helpers the following night.
What’s more, winger Chris Krieder finally made some noise against the Terriers, exploding for 4 points – 2 goals and 2 assists – in the series. Steven Whitney made the same contribution, posting 1 goal and two assists on Friday and punctuating the weekend with a breakway goal on BU netminder Kieran Millan at 11:06 in Saturday’s final frame.
With a penalty kill of 89.6 percent that ranks No. 3 in the nation, BC’s special teams continues to be another lynchpin of the Eagles’ dominance – of course, BC would probably prefer to test its penalty kill a little less frequently. With twenty-one penalties in the series, BC stymied the Terriers in all but three of BU’s power play opportunities. In fact, the Eagles capitalized on turnovers during Terrier power plays in each of the games this weekend by scoring shorthanded goals both nights.
The only aspect of the Eagles’ squad that wasn’t truly tested this weekend was its stellar goaltending. Senior John Muse has been a black hole between the pipes for BC, but did not need to be during this series. Don’t let Friday night’s score fool you – three of BU’s goals came on the man-advantage during three of the Terrier’s fifteen power play opportunities. Muse held BU to only a pair of man-advantage chances in the rematch, with nothing to show for them.
“[Muse] has been outstanding in goal for us,” York said. “[He] has just come so quick and so fast this year that he just demands to play.”
Let’s not speak too soon — the Eagles have a lot of work to do if they want this year’s path to the Frozen Four to end with back-to-back NCAA championships. But toppling its cross-town rival twice in as many nights — which has not happened since the 2007-2008 season — is an excellent way to head in to the holiday break.
And the best part? April — and Minnesota — are a long way off.