CHESTNUT HILL, MASS. – College hockey’s longest unbeaten streak came to a sudden end on Saturday afternoon after a surgical, 60-minute effort and a fortunate bounce in overtime lifted No. 14 Notre Dame to an upset win over No. 1 Boston College in front of a sellout crowd at Conte Forum.
Vince Hinostroza was given credit for the game-winning goal that pinballed off a few bodies in front of the net and hopped over the left shoulder of Eagles goalie Thatcher Demko.
The win halted Boston College’s 19-game unbeaten streak and allowed Notre Dame to leap several spots in the PairWise Rankings as the regular season comes to a close.
“We’re playing more composed right now,” said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson. “I wish we were a little bit better on the power play and a few other offensive situations, but we’re playing with more composure. We’re bending, but not breaking.”
It was a sluggish game for the first 20 minutes, reflected in the meager nine shots registered after the first period. Though the Irish had the edge territorially, high percentage scoring chances were few and far between.
The Irish finally broke through in the opening minute of the second period. Jeff Costello entered the Eagles’ zone virtually untouched and dropped the puck to a waiting Kevin Lind, who wired it into the back of the net to give the Irish a 1-0 edge.
It was the first time in 12 games that Boston College had trailed at any point, sowing early seeds of doubt that the streak might finally end today.
After another relatively quiet period, BC began to rumble to life, drawing two power plays in the closing six minutes of the period and beginning to pressure Steven Summerhays (19 saves), who stood his ground.
“He had some inconsistencies to start the second half [of the season],” Jackson said of his senior goalie. “But that’s where it all starts. Your goaltender has to be a difference maker in a game like this.”
As the third period began, the Eagles started on a power play, and 1:31 into the period the regular hero put the team on his shoulders again, as Johnny Gaudreau rushed end-to-end and slipped the puck through Summerhays to tie the score.
The Irish continued to fend off bursts off BC chances and began buzzing the net late in the third.
One scramble with 4:40 to go in particular could have won the game in regulation, as the puck was dug out of the end boards and fed to a streaking Vince Hinostroza in front, but he was denied by the outstretched right pad of Demko (19 saves).
It was a frenetic finish to overtime, with neither team laying claim to a golden chance that should have been capitalized on. Then again, the overtime winner wasn’t a thing of beauty either, initially fired from above the right circle, glancing off a defensive stick or a player in front, hopping over Demko and into the net.
The loss came right as the Eagles were in the midst of preparation for the postseason.
“We’re going to address some needs, some specifics,” Eagles coach Jerry York said, adding that the two-week break allows them to work on fundamentals.
“It’s almost like preseason training camp,” York said. “[We'll work on] faceoffs, defending three-on-twos with our backcheck, things that we may not have time to work on during the regular season.”
The Eagles will await their quarterfinal opponent after the opening round of the Hockey East playoffs, while Notre Dame will host a single-elimination playoff game next week.