CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Boston College jumped on top of second-ranked Denver early, grabbing a 3-1 first-period lead, and then rode the goaltending of Matti Kaltiainen to a convincing 4-2 win. The sophomore netminder made 27 saves and allowed only one goal until the final minute, foiling the Pioneers at critical junctures while the outcome was still in doubt.
At the offensive end, the line of Ben Eaves, Patrick Eaves and Tony Voce figured in on all four Boston College goals and totaled nine points.
“We defeated an excellent hockey team,” said BC coach Jerry York. “They’re very, very good, certainly in the hunt for a WCHA title and look like a national NCAA [tournament] club.
“That being said, I thought we played very, very well and got some excellent goaltending from Matti. Ben’s line was very, very good tonight. We were pretty solid from top to bottom.”
With his team unable to climb out of the early 3-1 hole, Denver coach George Gwozdecky took the blame for his team’s poor start and ultimately for the loss.
“If you’re not sharp and emotionally ready to go, you’re going to be caught flat-footed,” he said. “You’re not going to make the accurate plays, whether it’s a shot on goal or the right pass or whatever. You’re going to be making hopeful plays rather than definite plays. As a result, more times than not you’re going to struggle, which we did.
“My job is to prepare this team to play, not only physically but [have it] emotionally ready to go and play at the top of their game. It’s my fault that the team wasn’t ready to go. We tried to battle back, but if you’re not keyed up and ready to play at the concentration level that you need to, you look at the head coach. And the head coach didn’t do a very good job of getting his team ready to play.”
The Eagles, who entered the contest pegged at No. 7 in the country, jumped to a commanding 3-1 first-period lead on the strength of a power-play goal and then two at even strength from the Eaves-Eaves-Voce trio.
The first tally came at 7:37 on the game’s first power play. J.D. Forrest dropped down from the right point into the low slot and one-timed a shot past DU goaltender Wade Dubielewicz. Freshman standout Patrick Eaves made the pass, earning the first of his three points in the period and four in the game.
Exactly one minute later, Denver responded with a Kevin Doell goal. The senior assistant captain roofed a rebound of an Aaron MacKenzie shot from the point past Kaltiainen.
That, however, would prove to be the last deadlock of the game as five minutes later the Eagles grabbed the lead for good. Following a thwarted Denver two-on-one, Patrick Eaves one-timed a shot from the right slot into the top of the net.
Denver had its chances to even the score with quality opportunities from the slot and on redirections, but Kaltiainen remained solid.
Voce made it a 3-1 lead at 16:27 when he put in a rebound on his third try of a Patrick Eaves shot.
For most of the second period it appeared that the two-goal margin would stand up going into the final stanza, but with 22 seconds remaining Voce again capitalized around the net to make it 4-1.
In the third period, the Pioneers’ needed a quick goal or two and got power-play opportunities at 1:10 and 3:38, but the Eagle penalty kill dominated. Denver could manage only a single official shot on net over the four minutes and had its only other attempt blocked.
Although a power-play goal in the final minute narrowed the margin to 4-2, it was far too little, far too late for the Pioneers.
BC (2-0-0) hosts Vermont on Sunday. Denver (2-1-0) travels down Commonwealth Avenue for a game against Northeastern. Defenseman Brett Skinner, who sustained an undisclosed injury, will not play against the Huskies.