CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Despite signs that Boston College is searching for better chemistry on defense, the trademark facet of BC’s game is still lethal as ever – the ability to strike quickly and relentlessly.
Three goals in the second period helped the No. 4-ranked Eagles pound No. 15-ranked Rensselaer 7-2 on Sunday at Conte Forum.
The headliner was junior Johnny Gaudreau who, in his 81st career game, picked up a goal and two assists to bring him just one shy of 100 career points. But the box score was littered with younger players picking up goals as well.
“We really got some good play from a lot of different people,” BC coach Jerry York remarked. “It’s good to get those young guys with goals early.”
Early on, it looked like RPI had an upset in mind, holding BC to just two shots in the first period and controlling the pace of play. In fact, after BC scored the opening goal at 2:03 into the first period, they were held without a shot for another 20 minutes or so, into the second period. It was an indication of both how RPI controlled the early tempo and how ineffective BC was breaking out of the defensive zone.
A slew of defensive zone penalties that York characterized as “ragged” also gave the Engineers a wealth of early chances.
The pressure resulted in a tying goal with under three minutes to go in the frame. With RPI just wrapping up a power play and freshman Thatcher Demko (25 saves) already under heavy pressure, Demko juggled a rebound, spilling the puck right to the waiting stick of Milos Bubela, who knocked it in to tie the score at 1-1.
Yet to their credit, the Eagles’ defense bent, but did not break, largely due to the work from Demko in his first career start.
“Thatcher made some really key saves for us,” York said. “We’ve had two strong performances back to back with Brian [Billett] and Thatcher [Demko]. I think we’re pretty solid in goal right now.”
Holding RPI to just one goal in the first period bought the offense enough time to awaken from its Sunday slumber. And as has been seen so often from BC, when the Eagles score, they score in bunches.
At 6:24 into the second period, it was Gaudreau who got slashed on a breakaway, then slammed home a loose puck on the ensuing power play to make it 2-1. Just 13 seconds later, and with the RPI defense still reeling, Quinn Smith swatted in a loose puck to extend the lead to 3-1, forcing a timeout from the RPI bench.
The quick goals threw the momentum in BC’s favor and it stayed there.
“We can’t waiver from who we are, we can’t get in a track meet with Boston College,” lamented RPI coach Seth Appert. “We have to be extremely committed to our style – hard, fast, physical and disciplined.”
While the Engineers hung around, BC finished them off in the early moments of the third period. After an outlet pass from Gaudreau, Bill Arnold broke through a stagnant RPI defensive zone and stashed a backhander into the net glove side on goalie Jason Kasdorf. Less than three minutes later, Kasdorf (nine saves) was chased from the game on a strike from freshman Chris Calnan to balloon the lead to 6-2.
“We’re pretty good right now, [but] we’re trying to make that step to be really good,” said Appert. “There’s still some uncertainty in our older guys’ minds, they’re still going through that transformation process.”
For RPI, the loss capped off a wild swing of fortunes after dispatching Sacred Heart 6-0 the night before.
Meanwhile the Eagles’ nonconference schedule gets no easier when it faces a Big Ten squad, Wisconsin, next Friday.