CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Boston College coach Jerry York added yet another milestone to his illustrious career Friday, winning his 700th game, 5-3 over North Dakota. York leads all active coaches, trailing only Ron Mason (924 wins) and Bob Peters (744) all-time.
At the close of the game, York was saluted not only by the Conte Forum fans, but also by the North Dakota players who lined up to shake his hand.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Ned Havern said. “You don’t get that many wins by [accident]. He’s done an excellent job with this program.”
In terms of drama, the game was a letdown for 40 minutes as second-ranked BC seized a 3-0 lead over fourth-ranked North Dakota before the game was 14 minutes old and led 4-1 going into the third period. The Sioux, however, rallied for a strong closing stanza in which they scored twice and came close on another breakaway to make it 4-3 before a Dan Bertram open-netter iced it for the Eagles.
“That was a terrific first period for us,” York said. “It was the best period of hockey we’ve played all year. Then North Dakota came back. Momentum is going to shift back and forth when good teams play and it did tonight.
“They’re a good club. They’re going to create chances and make good plays. We’ve got to rise to the occasion and play a little tighter.”
Chris Porter led the North Dakota offense with two goals and almost made it a natural hat trick on a third-period breakaway.
“They’re definitely the most skilled team that we’ve played,” he said. “We dug ourselves a big hole. We played well in the third period, but we’ve got to play 60 minutes. I thought we were one bounce away. We were all over them in the third.”
One week earlier, BC threw 103 attempts and 52 official shots at Notre Dame only to lose 3-2. So it was a relief for Eagle fans when their team buried two of its first three shots in the opening minutes.
With the game less than four minutes old, Bertram, a highly-touted freshman, showed a goalscorer’s patience in front of the net, working the puck until he seemingly had acres of open net to shoot at. The goal, assisted by Ryan Shannon, was Bertram’s third of the season.
“You’re pretty excited when you’re one-on-one with the goalie down low like that,” Bertram said. “You love those goals and you love those opportunities. It was a good way to start the game for sure.”
Just two minutes later, Ryan Murphy and Stephen Gionta broke up ice with Murphy carrying the puck on the right wing. As he neared the top of the faceoff circle, he fed Gionta in the slot where the junior one-timed it past Jordan Parise.
The grade A chances continued for the Eagles as North Dakota surrendered two-on-ones first to Chris Collins and Gionta and then to Brian Boyle and Joe Rooney. The Sioux survived those scares only to go two men down on a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty followed by a cross check. The BC power-play capitalized when it worked the puck down low on the right to Havern and he roofed it into the far top corner.
“I waited for Pat Eaves to put that magic touch on the puck,” Havern said. “He held onto it just long enough, waited until I was open, gave me the opportunity to walk out of the corner and I just tried to rip it through traffic and it caught the far post.”
The period finished with the Eagles holding only a modest 13-10 advantage on the shot charts, but the 3-0 lead because of the quality of their opportunities and ability to bury those chances.
Eight minutes into the second period Shannon made it 4-0 on another five-on-three man advantage. Shannon took the puck low on the left side, walked in unmolested, deked Parise and stuffed it home.
BC (3-1-0) finished with two power-play goals on eight chances while holding North Dakota (4-2-1) scoreless six times with the man advantage.
The Sioux finally got onto the scoreboard at 15:07. BC defenseman Peter Harrold, just returned to the lineup following a shoulder injury, slipped as he was pivoting near the boards and Travis Zajac collected the loose puck. The freshman broke in on Cory Schneider and scored his fourth goal of the season to make it 4-1.
The third period began to get interesting when Colby Genoway collected the puck along the right wing boards and quickly slid it Porter. The sophomore was all alone in front and beat Schneider to make it 4-2.
Minutes later, Porter took off on a breakaway and appeared from the press box to have scored. No one at ice level, however, agreed with that assessment, ranging from the goal judge to Porter to the North Dakota bench.
After Parise stopped a David Spina breakaway, Porter one-timed a pass from Drew Stafford to make it 4-3 and all of a sudden the game was up for grabs.
The BC defense, however, tightened and held off the North Dakota charge until Bertram sealed the win with his open-netter at 19:19.
Boston College is now off until next Friday when it travels to Maine. North Dakota, on the other hand, gets right back into action on Saturday at Northeastern.