BOSTON — With Boston College coming into tonight’s game with a rare three-game losing streak, everyone figured that BC would play like a desperate team.
Instead, goaltender Cory Schneider reported that the atmosphere was not what one would have expected under the circumstances.
“It was surprisingly loose,” Schneider said. “Recently we’ve been struggling to put pucks in the net and having trouble winning close games. Guys were getting a little tense and gripping the sticks a little too tight. Tonight everyone was upbeat, positive, loose, and having fun. It was a marked difference, and it helped us play well tonight.”
Eagle coach Jerry York revealed that inspiration came from a surprising source. “Our assistant basketball coach Pat Duquette had mentioned the other day ‘Hey, this is the time to buy stock in the BC hockey program. You’re at your low-buy it now because you know we’re going to get better.’
“One of our managers put a graph up on the board just like a stock graph: It was October, November and it was down real low in January but he had it going back up again. We lost three in a row, and we were looking for something, so we said, ‘Hey, let’s buy stock in BC: We’re low now, but we’re going to go forward.’”
So although the Dow Jones Industrial Average had its worst week of the year, the Boston College Eagles reported an upswing tonight. In a rock ‘em sock ‘em physical and emotional battle, No. 13 BC topped No. 7 BU 5-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 6,224 at Agganis Arena.
After a poor showing on Wednesday, Schneider was the No. 1 star with 38 saves on 40 BU shots. Five different goal scorers lit the lamp for the Eagles, while Bryan “Boomer” Ewing headed up the scoresheet for the Terriers with a goal and an assist. The win gave BC a 2-1 win in the regular-season series, which strangely featured no home team winning this year.
“It was quite a series as it always seems to be when BU and BC play,” York said. “It’s unusual this year that they win at our place, we win at their place. Usually the difference is so close that home ice gives the advantage, but neither one of us could hold serve at their own building.
“We played with more emotion tonight and scored more goals, which really helped us. I thought Cory was terrific in net. We talk about good special teams and good goaltending, and we had check marks in both areas tonight.”
BU coach Jack Parker was generally satisfied with his team’s intensity and effort tonight as well. “I thought it was a really good hockey game,” Parker said. “I thought we were back on our heels a little in the first period, but after the first ten minutes of the first period I loved how hard we played. I loved the fact that we generated offense and got to the net.
“I thought the difference of the game literally and figuratively was the power play and penalty kill. They get two power-play goals; we don’t get any. We just demoralized ourselves when we were on the power play. The did a good job of killing us, but we just kept making mishap passes, misreads. We got very, very frustrated on the power play, and that had a lot to do with us.”
If BC was looser than anticipated, they certainly came out and played extremely hard in the first ten minutes, which surprised no one. On the Eagles’ first power play, Brian Boyle almost scored at 2:40 on a tip of a slapshot. Just over a minute later, the Eagles did score when Ben Smith buried a rebound of a Joe Rooney shot.
“The puck was shot off the back boards, bounced up in the air, and the guy hit it out of midair, went in the net,” Parker said.
Just 71 seconds later, BC made it 2-0 when a long cross-ice pass from Brock Bradford set up Nathan Gerbe breaking in on the left wing. “We just had a bad read on the second goal,” Parker said. “Guy comes by one of our defenseman, all he had to do was back off and play him, and he instead he tries to grab the puck and go, and the kid goes in,” Parker said. Gerbe shot early and beat Curry high.
BU played much better as the period progressed amidst many tough hits. The worst of it for BU was that Brandon Yip-who already had missed much of the season with a severe shoulder injury-collided with a teammate and twisted his ankle. He missed the rest of the game and will not play on Saturday night at the very least.
The second period was action-packed. A great backhanded pass by Jason Lawrence off the boards sent Ewing off o the races, only to have Schneider come up with the big save initially and on Lawrence on the rebound at 1:20.
BU ended up with a five-on-three a few minutes later and absolutely pelted Schneider with shots. The junior came up with any number of huge saves, but with just one second left on the two-man advantage BU defender Matt Gilroy finally buried his fourth or fifth shot in an 80-second span to make it 2-1.
BC caught a break at 7:21 on a penalty that referee John Gravallese called on Kevin Schaeffer, a roughing call that raised the ire of Parker, who would not comment specifically on the call afterwards beyond saying that it would “be addressed” with the league.
“I was just standing next to the kid, and he grabs onto my stick with both hands and kind of throws himself down on the ground to get the call,” said Schaeffer, who ended up on top of the BC player. “The ref fell for it.”
The call loomed large, as BC scored the eventual game-winner just 18 seconds later. Benn Ferriero took a shot from the right point that Boyle tipped past the screened netminder to make it 3-1.
BC almost extended the lead halfway through the period when pesky winger Nathan Gerbe made a terrific pass while shorthanded to set up Bradford, only to have Curry stack the pads for the save. Buoyed accordingly, BU responded with a goal at 13:46 when Ewing buried the rebound of a Chris Higgins shot to bring the Terriers back within a goal.
The third period was much tighter than the second. Gilroy had another chance at 3:20, ticking the outside of the post, and then Gilroy set up Higgins for another bid at 12:50. BU got a power play at 13:52 but couldn’t get to square one with it.
Quite suddenly at 17:17, Dan Bertram raced in on the right wing and blasted a blistering slapshot that beat Curry high on the glove side. Game over, effectively. “I guess I misread the shot off his stick, thought it might’ve been going low but it floated high-just a bad goal,” Curry said.
Ewing hit a post at 18:20 before Ferriero capped it with an empty netter with 49.2 seconds remaining.
The win was vindicating for Schneider after Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to BU. “It was huge,” Schneider said. “Wednesday night I let in a couple of goals that I’d probably like to have back, so I just talked to the coaches and looked over some tape, just came out a little further and played a little more athletic. It seemed to work tonight.”
Both teams will be challenged by playing their third game in four nights on Saturday. BC (13-9-1, 10-7-1) hosts Mass.-Lowell while BU (13-5-6, 10-4-5) travels to UMass.
“I think when you come off a big win you have more in the tank than when you come off a big loss, so that will be an advantage for them,” Parker said. “We’ve got to go play a team in UMass that has the best home record in college hockey right now, so we’ll have our hands full.”