CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — It was the slacker’s ideal day. Start late, quit early and in the middle take an extra-long break.
However, hockey players, coaches and fans are no slackers when it comes to their sport so it was with universal disappointment that the Boston College-North Dakota game was halted prior to the third period due to poor playing conditions. The scoreless game will be considered official according to NCAA rule 655-D and both teams receive ties in their records.
A “perfect storm” of high temperatures and humidity resulted in poor ice and fog that had became increasingly worse as the second period developed despite portable dehumidifiers brought in to combat the weather. The humidifiers may have even caused the two power outages that delayed the game, already a late 8:00 start for CSTV.
The first outage came well before the dropping of the puck but pushed the start back to 8:23. Then barely more than a minute into the second period, Kelley Rink again went dark, necessitating a 22-minute delay. Soon after the resumption of play, the ice surface began to fog and by the end of the second period referee Scott Hansen considered conditions as poor as last year’s BC game against Boston University that was also halted. Hansen had officiated that one as well, which had not reached two periods of completion and was made up at a later date.
“It’s disappointing for everybody, fans, players, coaches and everybody involved,” said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol. “We had a great hockey game going. But it is what it is.”
After BC coach Jerry York seconded that opinion, he quipped, “Hopefully, Al Gore is wrong and we get some global cooling.”
Goaltenders could not see the far end of the rink by the end of the second period. “It definitely became a factor around the 14-minute mark,” said North Dakota netminder Jean-Philippe Lamoureaux. “You had to be sharp when the puck was in the other end.”
The game opened with a scoreless first period despite a total of 30 shots on goal between the two teams. In the early going, BC kept the puck in its attacking zone, building a 9-0 shot advantage before North Dakota finally generated its first shot at the 7:13 mark. Within less than a minute, the Fighting Sioux went on their first power play and in little more than two minutes the shots stood at 9-7.
BC’s best opportunity in the period came at the 11:00 mark with Brian Gibbons and Ben Smith getting a brief two-on-one down low off a turnover. North Dakota countered with its best shot four minutes later with Matt Wilkins feeding Chris VandeVelde in front.
Goaltenders John Muse and Lamoureaux made all the stops, however, without having to resort to flamboyant acrobatics.
The story of the scoreless second period, other than the blackout, was BC’s Nathan Gerbe who had a succession of excellent opportunities but could not bury any of them. At 2:15, his chance came from the slot and on a subsequent rebound. Four minutes later, he swooped in on the left wing and although he didn’t have a great angle, got a good shot off. Another minute later, he was at it again, this time with a partial breakaway. Each time, however, Lamoureaux had to make the big stop.
At the other end, Watkins had the best chance of them all at 17:00, forcing a point-blank save by Muse.
North Dakota (1-0-1) returns to action against Northeastern on Saturday. Boston College (1-1-1) travels to Vermont for a Sunday afternoon contest.