DURHAM, N.H. – Boston College finished off the weekend sweep of New Hampshire with a 2-1 win Saturday.
The Eagles jumped out to a 1-0 lead late in the first period after UNH controlled play for most of the opening frame. A Kevin Hayes dish from the left corner bounced around in the slot, where Bill Arnold swiped a backhander off the left post and past Casey DeSmith for the one-goal lead.
After starting Brian Billet last night in net, BC opted to go with freshman Thatcher Demko. Demko made 28 saves on the night, including 12 in the first period.
“Back to back nights we’ve had not just good goaltending, but exceptional goaltending,” BC coach Jerry York said. “UNH had the puck an awful lot this weekend and made good plays, but goaltending was the key this weekend for us to come out with two wins.”
Demko remained sharp midway through the second period, moving swiftly post-to-post to deny a point-blank slap shot from below the left circle off of Collin Bourque’s stick.
The Wildcats evened the score 7:11 into the second period on Matt Willows’ sixth goal of the season. This time, Demko got stuck on the right side of the net and couldn’t make his way back to the left, giving Willows plenty of room to bury the opportunity.
Despite the loss, Willows is keeping a positive attitude as UNH prepares for the holiday break.
“I think we had a great weekend,” Willows said. “Last night, we had a letdown for five or six minutes and you can’t do that against a team of that caliber … Overall, I think we had a great effort and I like the way our team looks, and I think we all feel the same way.”
Coach Dick Umile echoed Willows’ attitude.
“If we compete like that in the second half, I think we will win our share of games and we’ll be a tough team to beat. The effort was there, and I like the way we competed.”
The Eagles regained the lead with 2:09 left in the second period thanks to a UNH turnover and a Quinn Smith line change. Smith was gassed after an up-ice rush and waved to the bench for a change as he skated out of the right corner. Smith stepped off and Hayes stepped into the UNH zone and took control of the puck just outside of the right circle. He danced his way through Brett Pesce and fired a wrist shot blocker side to beat DeSmith.
Play broke wide open midway through the third period as UNH poured on the pressure.
The Wildcats nearly tied the score with just over four minutes left in the third on a two-on-one. Grayson Downing deked his way to the left circle and sent a centering pass to Jamie Hill, who couldn’t finish the chance.
Following a BC icing with 1:18 left in regulation, Umile elected to pull DeSmith for the extra attacker. New Hampshire couldn’t do much with the extra skater, thanks to the aggressive forecheck from Arnold.
“Usually, I try to stay back a little bit in that situation and let the wingers go,” Arnold said. “That’s the ideal situation but I got caught down there so I just tried to keep the puck tied up for as long as I could and I got some bounces off the boards.
Both teams will prepare for finals and won’t play again until after Christmas.