CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Friday’s East Coast storm only deposited a couple of inches of snow in Chestnut Hill, but Boston University coach Jack Parker was nonetheless ready to declare the Conte Forum a disaster area.
On the scoreboard, the Eagles didn’t have the game in hand until the last ten minutes. On the ice, they took it to their archrivals. Only the goaltending heroics of BU senior Sean Fields and a soft goal surrendered by BC goalie Matti Kaltiainen kept it from being much worse.
Instead, Tony Voce notched his third hat trick of the season and Patrick Eaves returned to the lineup with two goals as the Eagles beat the Terriers 5-2 in front of 7,884.
In a losing effort, Fields made 46 saves and set two all-time records for BU. He played in his 100th game as a goalie — the first Terrier netminder to do so. Scott Cashman had played in 99 games from 1989-93. He also passed Cashman’s career total of 2,468 saves. Fields now has 2,479.
That was the lone bright spot, as Parker characterized the game among the school’s all-time worst showings against BC.
“It was absolute, total dominance by Boston College,” Parker said. “I’ve never been involved in a BU-BC game where BC dominated us so badly in every phase of the game. It was embarrassing how we played on the power play; it was embarrassing how we played killing penalties; it was embarrassing how they beat us to every loose puck. We had the shots 52-24 [officially 51-16]. We haven’t given up 52 shots in 15 years, I bet.
“The one positive about this was we gave Fieldsie a chance to get to where he needs to be, and he played great tonight,” added Parker. “If it wasn’t for him, it could have been ten. Give BC a lot of credit: they’ve got a lot of talent, and they played real hard. Our talent was nonexistent, and we didn’t play hard.”
Obviously, the outcome was gratifying for Parker’s counterpart.
“I thought the team played very well in a lot of different areas,” Eagle coach Jerry York said. “Our ability to limit the number of scoring chances we give up: That’s been a key to our success so far this year. We didn’t give up a lot of scoring chances, and we’re creating a lot on the other end.
“I loved the way our team was passing pucks; we were moving it around, very unselfish,” added York. “BU hung tough, and it was still 3-2 going into the third. One of the key things was we didn’t get frustrated. Fields was playing another typical game for them; he was very, very strong. You look at the shot chart after two periods and think that the game should be over.”
The Terriers looked surprisingly sluggish in the first period, not hitting or skating much.
“That first period we looked like a deer in the headlights,” Parker said. “We’ve got a lot of guys back from the team that beat them in the two most important games we played against them last year [the Beanpot and the Hockey East semifinal], and we go out there tonight and look like we’re playing the Montreal Canadians or something?
“There’s no question in my mind that we weren’t there mentally because we weren’t there emotionally.”
Except for some chances by the line of Kenny Roche, David Klema, and John Laliberte, the period was all BC.
Over a minute after a negligible Terrier power play expired at 4:31, the Eagles took the early lead on a rugby goal. A mass of players glommed around the puck to the left of Fields, and the goaltender flopped in an attempt to smother the puck. However, the puck squirted behind the Terrier net and came out the other side, where Voce deposited it in the vacated net.
The Eagles got their second on an innocuous play at 13:52. Playing for the first time after missing the previous four games with a knee injury, Patrick Eaves waltzed over the blue line and fired a long shot with David Van der Gulik covering him near the left point. Somehow the puck eluded both the forward and Fields, who appeared to be screened. It was the younger Eaves brother’s third goal of the season.
“He’s one of the top players in all of college hockey and to get him back in the lineup just gives us so much more, so many more weapons,” York said.
Both teams withstood a few power plays, but the Eagles’ play with the man advantage was light years beyond the Terriers. When the buzzer sound, BC had a startling 17-3 advantage in shots.
The second period didn’t start out any better for the Terriers. With Ryan Whitney in the sin bin, Patrick Eaves got the puck at the left point and spied Ryan Shannon at the far post. He attempted to thread the pass, and BU blueliner Bryan Miller reached to break it up but instead knocked into his own net. Eaves received credit for the unassisted goal at 1:06.
The Terriers were fortunate to get their first goal at 4:28. Terrier freshman Sean Sullivan threw the puck on net from the right point, and the puck slipped through the five-hole of Kaltiainen to make it 3-1.
It was Sullivan’s first collegiate goal, and it also meant that eight of the Terriers’ last ten goals had been scored by defensemen.
Despite continuing to be outshot in the period, BU made it a game at 16:07. Freshman winger Kenny Roche got a loose puck at the red line and raced down the left wing on a two-on-one. He made a perfect cross for David Klema to tap it home for a 3-2 game.
The Eagles almost extended their lead at 17:00 when Stephen Gionta suddenly had a one-on-one against Fields, but he was denied. Then Fields stopped Voce at point-blank range at 18:40 after Patrick Eaves found him in the slot. It appeared that Fields had rediscovered his form after struggling earlier this season.
The first half of the third period was a soccer game, as the teams combined for all of five shots, with BU finally enjoying a bit of an edge in scoring chances — the best coming for David Klema at 8:45.
But at 11:56 on a power play, BC got the backbreaker. Fields made several saves, but his teammates just couldn’t clear the rebounds out of the zone. In the end, the puck made its way to Voce at the far post with half of the net available to him.
“Actually, I think Spina was in front of the net, causing traffic,” Voce said. “Benny [Eaves] came in — I don’t even know how he saw me: I told him on the bench that he must have eyes in the back of his head. I don’t know how he saw me or got it there. Put it on my tape, and I slammed it in.”
Parker pulled the goalie with almost two minutes left, but Voce iced it with an empty-netter from just inside the red line for the hat trick.
“It’s a nice feeling, especially playing BU,” Voce said about completing the hat trick. “Everybody played really well. I really didn’t have too much on any of the goals, kind of empty-netters on all three of them.”
Weather permitting, Boston College (10-2-3, 6-0-2 Hockey East) travels to Providence Saturday night, while the Terriers (4-5-4. 2-4-2 Hockey East) plan to host Massachusetts in a rare Sunday afternoon game.