The Battle of Comm Ave. needs no introduction, so I won’t waste your time. We hate Boston University, they hate us, and when we play them, it’s a big deal. I don’t know about you, but I’m never more nervous during hockey season than I am in the hours before a BU game. Losing to them hurts a lot. If you were at the Hockey East semifinal last year, I don’t have to tell you that. It was an ugly game, and I’m sure it was on every player’s mind coming into this weekend. With David Quinn replacing the legendary Jack Parker behind the Terrier bench, the rivalry has a new identity. Quinn has some big shoes to fill, and going into Friday night, the question was how the Eagles would welcome him to the rivalry.
The atmosphere was incredible. The energy in Agganis Arena was palpable…for all of ten minutes, at least. At 9:18 of the first, Johnny Gaudreau curled above the faceoff circle and fed a wide-open Austin Cangelosi a pass in front of the net for a 1-0 lead. It was all Eagles from that point on. The Eagles’ second goal came off of some hard work in front of the net, with Bill Arnold retrieving a loose puck and feeding Gaudreau in the slot, who put it home on a simple wrister. That goal would prove to be the game winner, as BU’s only goal came on the power play on one of the luckiest bounces you’ll ever see.
Thatcher Demko was strong in net. I feel like we still have yet to see Demko at his best, because quite frankly, the team plays too well in front of him for him to be truly tested. On Friday, he made 22 saves on 23 shots. He was tested most on the penalty kill, as BC gave BU 7 powerplay opportunities, on which they had 17 shots. It would be just terrific if we could stop doing that, actually. Thankfully, BU was less than lethal. They only had six even strength shots. That’s incredibly bad. BC controlled play from top to bottom, and if the had taken fewer penalties, there’s no doubt in my mind they could have put up a couple more goals.
It’s been talked about ad infinitum, but Johnny Gaudreau is an incredible player. The marquee outside of Agganis should have read “The Johnny Gaudreau Show, featuring the Boston College Eagles.” He had a hand in each of BC’s first three goals, with the third being especially amazing. He took the puck at the top of the circle, deked around a sliding Terrier defender, made Matt O’Connor bite on a move, took it around the net, and slid the puck behind his back to a waiting Bill Arnold, who put it in the net before anyone even knew what happened. Here’s a .gif so you can watch it over and over again. Astonishing.
That’s not to say Johnny was the only Eagle producing. Everyone was firing on all cylinders. Kevin Hayes has taken his game to the next level this year. He’s been nearly as dangerous as Gaudreau, and while there were more-than-occasional flashes of brilliance, it wasn’t a side of him that we saw much of last year. Hayes’s emergence as a dangerous player on every shift is one of the things that will put this year’s BC team over the top. On BC’s fifth goal of the night, he made a blind, spinning backhand pass to Destry Straight, who deked Matt O’Connor out of his socks and slid it into the net. It was the perfect way to cap off an evening absolutely dominated by the Eagles.
Sunday, 11/10: Eagles 11, Black Knights 0
BC’s Sunday afternoon game against Army went exactly how you would expect it to. No students showed up, and BC dominated. Army isn’t very good at all. They allowed an average of 4.2 goals/game coming into this game, playing in a pretty terrible conference. I realistically predicted 10 goals, and BC gave me 11. Geez.
It was the Johnny Gaudreau show again. He scored twice on the breakaway in the first 10 minutes, finishing with the exact same move both times. He assisted on two more goals. It was embarrassingly easy for him. He had a 7-point weekend when all was said and done, good enough for first in the nation in points/game with 2. If the dogs hadn’t been called off halfway through the first period he probably could have scored five. That’s not an exaggeration.
Coach York took the opportunity to give some of the seldom-seen players some ice time. Johnny Gaudreau’s brother Matt made his college debut and scored his first collegiate goal. He played on a line with sophomore Peter McMullen, who picked up his first career point by assisting on the play. Junior goaltender Brad Barone even saw some time in the third period, making 15 saves.
Steve Santini made an incredibly dangerous hit to the head, leaving an Army player on the ice for a scary minute. Thankfully, he was able to get up and skate off under his own power. Santini received a game misconduct, and will be ineligible to play Thursday at UMass.
I truly don’t understand why games like this are scheduled. It’s the equivalent of Alabama scheduling a game against an FCS school. In the final five minutes, BC had a few clear scoring chances that they simply didn’t take. Even as a fan, it gets hard to watch another team get beaten so badly, especially when that team is Army. The talent disparity in college hockey is simply too big for teams like BC to schedule teams like Army for anything other than an exhibition. This is nothing against Army, either. They showed up and took it as an opportunity to see how they would fare against one of the best teams in the nation. It’s just unnecessary.
A rendering of the shellacking against Army:
BC will have another opportunity to earn some important Hockey East points this Thursday and Friday against the Minutemen of UMass-Amherst. Go Eagles!