CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Friday night, Boston College rookie Brian Boyle may have earned his nickname: “Showtime.”
With the game in the balance against Providence, the highly-touted Boyle — who has struggled offensively early in his freshman campaign — took control by scoring twice in the third period, the final time to break a 4-4 tie with 5:18 remaining as the second-ranked Eagles skated to a 7-4 win in front of an announced sellout crowd of 7,884 at Conte Forum.
Boyle, who entered the night with just three goals, picked a perfect time to nearly double his output. With the Eagles playing on College Sports Television’s national game of the week for the third time this year, Boyle used the opportunity to be the star.
“[Brian's] a very talented player,” said BC head coach Jerry York of Boyle, a 2003 first-round draft choice of the Los Angeles Kings. “I think he’s getting better and better the more Hockey East games he played and he proved tonight that he’s going to be a real good player for us.”
Said Boyle of his breakthrough performance, “I didn’t think I played well in [Tuesday night's] Merrimack game and the first two periods tonight. I thought I could’ve played a lot better. So I just tried to forget about anything else and it seemed to work out well.”
The first of Boyle’s two markers came on the power play in a game duing which the Eagles notched a remarkable five goals with the extra man — one shy of the Hockey East record. That stat is music to BC’s ears: the Eagles entered Friday’s game a dismal nine-for-60 on the season.
“Finally,” laughed Eagles senior Tony Voce about Friday’s power-play epiphany. Voce, himself, netted his second hat trick of the season and fourth of his career, with all three goals coming with the man advantage. The three goals for Voce tied him for 20th on the Eagles’ all-time goal scoring list with NHLer Marty Reasoner.
“We’ve been struggling for a little while [on the power play]. It’s going to come around because we have the talent and the players who can put the pucks in the net.”
“When you come in and give up five power-play goals on the road, you’re not going to win a hockey game,” said Providence head coach Paul Pooley, whose club entered the game with a respectable 83.1 percent efficiency on the penalty kill. “Penalties killed us again and that’s something that we’re going to have to address.
“Sometimes you get caught up in the emotion of the game and you make some poor decisions [taking penalties] and it was the difference tonight.”
Those penalties contributed to a first period that saw BC dominate the Friars in every aspect. Three Boston College power plays resulted in two BC goals and a remarkable 20-2 advantage in shots on net.
The Eagles opened the scoring when Voce’s centering pass was pushed past PC goaltender Bobby Goepfert (41 saves) by Friar defenseman Eric Lundberg. The own goal was part of a frustrating night for Lundberg that saw him take a critical penalty early in the third which BC converted to a goal.
Chris Collins extended the BC lead to 2-0 at 17:08 as his shot deflected off a PC defender and floated over the left shoulder of Goepfert.
But even having been completely dominated early, the Friars came out in the second proving they wouldn’t go away easily.
David Carpenter picked up a rebound on a 2-on-1 with Mike Robinson firing it past Eagles netminder Matti Kaltiainen (15 saves) to pull the Friars within one at 1:55.
And even after BC got Voce’s second goal of the game at 13:22, the Friars responded with two of their own to even the game through two.
Robinson picked up the first, letting go a wrist shot that seemed to fool Kaltiainen through the five-hole at 15:36. And at 17:52, Chase Watson’s wrist shot from the top of the circle on a Providence power play beat Kaltiainen through a screen to knot the game.
In the third, Boyle picked up his first at 4:44 by blasting a one-timer from Ben Eaves, whose two assists on the night game him 100 for his career. The play was started by a when Ryan Shannon made a yeoman’s effort to hold the puck in on the power play and find Eaves.
But PC kept fighting back and when Jonathan Goodwin deflected Dinos Stamoulis’ shot 2:04 later, the game was once again deadlocked.
That’s when Boyle scored a highlight-reel goal to give BC the lead for good. The rookie picked out of midair a pass that Adam Pineault floated over the net, beating a shocked Goepfert for the game-winner.
Rookie Joe Rooney added his second goal of the season at 18:35 and Voce completed the power play hat trick at 19:38 to account for the 7-4 final.
The win pushed BC (7-2-3, 4-0-2 Hockey East) within a point of conference leader and No. 9 Massachusetts, which tied No. 3 Maine Friday, 1-1. The Eagles are idle the remainder of the weekend before facing Dartmouth at home in nonconference play Tuesday night.
Providence (6-4-2, 2-4-2 Hockey East) remains in fifth place with UMass-Lowell, a 3-1 winner over No. 10 Boston University Friday. The Friars return home Saturday to meet Maine.