Photos from Graham Beck of the BC men’s ice hockey 3-2 win over UMass tonight. Full coverage of the win coming in tomorrow issue of The Heights.

MEN’S HOCKEY: Three Keys To Victory

By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor

Even though it was just an exhibition game, No. 1 Boston College got off to an impressive start to its 2012-2013 season on Saturday night at Kelley Rink, taking down the University of New Brunswick 6-0. After some expected sloppy play in the first 10 minutes, the Eagles found their stride with an absolutely dominating second period, when they scored four of their six goals. As always, there is room for improvement for BC, but here’s what went right in the win:

Rock-Solid Walls In Net - Parker Milner, Brian Billett, and Brad Barone each played one period in between the pipes for BC, and all three were on top of their game. They all had their share of highlight-reel saves, and combined for 18 saves on the night. Despite their varying depths of experience, all three looked calm and collected in the crease, and helped to spread that confidence to the young BC defense.

Head coach Jerry York said he watched New Brunswick practice on Friday and thought it’d be a close game, but said that his goalies were the difference makers in the win.

“Our goalies made some terrific saves,” York said. “I thought all three goalies played very well. I was really pleased with our goaltenders.”

Milner will surely get almost all of the starts this season, but it’s important to trust your backups, and Billett and Barone both looked solid tonight.

Scoring Spread Out - All four forward lines contributed to the scoring tonight, a great recipe for success. York always prides himself on having a deep team, and he saw that continue tonight.

“Early on in the season, we’re just trying to formulate some lines … but to see Patrick Brown’s line, and Michael Sit’s line play very well, that’s a really good sign for us,” York said. “We know that Billy Arnold’s line and Pat Mullane’s line, those are going to be really excellent for us during the course of the year. So we’re developing a little more depth and a little more strength than [just] those other two lines.”

The goal scorers on the night were Johnny Gaudreau, Destry Straight, Bill Arnold (on the power play), Brooks Dyroff, Patrick Brown, and Danny Linell. Fourteen Eagles recorded points on the night, either scoring a goal or setting up a goal with an assist.

Second Period Dominance - After a solid first period, BC lit up Conte Forum with four goals in the second frame, including three goals in a span of 1:43.

“Oh we made some great plays,” York said of his team’s performance in the second period. “We had a lot of jump.”

The Eagles straight up controlled the pace of the game in that second period, and maintained possession of the puck for the majority of the frame. BC outshot New Brunswick 17-4 in the period, and all but put the game out of reach with a dominating 20 minutes.

With all of that said, the Eagles haven’t even had their first real practice of the season yet. That’ll happen on Sunday, as they now have under a week to prepare for their season opener at Northeastern. But if Saturday night’s game was any indication of how the regular season will go, there is a lot to be excited about in Chestnut Hill.

“I’m pleased, we haven’t had many practices,” York said. “The NCAA mandates two hours a week for these three weeks, so actually tomorrow [Sunday] will be our first real practice. So having said that, it’s great to see where we are.”

When I was younger, I was kind of a little scared of getting hit, so I kind of stayed behind the net where not many guys were at. I think, just throughout the years, I’ve been getting better and better at it. — Freshman Johnny Gaudreau on his ability to create scoring chances from behind the net.

BC defeated Minnesota-Duluth 4-0 on Sunday in Worcester to advance to the Frozen Four. (All photos by Graham Beck / Heights Editor)

Full coverage of the game in today’s issue: Heating Up For Tampa and Milner Solidifies Spot In The Frozen Four

BC defeated Air Force 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Worcester. (Photos by Graham Beck / Heights Editor)

Hockey Notebook: BC Moves On

(Photo by Daniel Lee/Heights Editor)

By AJ Pottle

The unanimously No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey team (27-10-1) was able to defeat the UMASS Minutemen (13-19-5) by a score of 3-2 on Saturday night and advance to the Hockey East semifinals. The Eagles were forced to play from behind for the first time since Jan. 27 against UNH, but more spectacular play by junior goaltender Parker Milner highlighted the final win of the weekend series. The Eagles await the results in the rest of the Hockey East playoffs to see whom they will take on at the TD Garden on Friday for the semifinal matchup.

Playing From Behind

The Eagles found themselves in very unfamiliar territory when they fell behind early in the game Saturday night. BC had not trailed in a game for 687 minutes, a record dating back to the second period of the Jan. 27game against UNH, which the Eagles won 4-3 thanks to a Steven Whitney game-winner.  UMass was able to secure the 1-0 lead at the 2:54 mark of the first period thanks to an even strength goal by their speedster forward Conor Sheary. Sheary got the goal on a give and go pass with T.J. Syner behind the net, who was able to wrap around and find Sheary in the slot.

BC was able to answer the bell, but not without a break. During a penalty kill for Bill Arnold’s roughing call UMass’ second line center Steven Guzzo received a game misconduct on a hitting from behind call. UMass, who was already without its New York Rangers prospect Danny Hobbs, was forced to work with a short bench.

 “Tonight was a situation where one of their real leaders, a senior, Danny Hobbs had an injury and could not play,” head coach Jerry York said after the game. “That certainly was a factor in the game today because he is a top-level player.”

BC was able to get the equalizer during the four-on-four play, on a nice finish from junior forward Pat Mullane. Mullane took a pass from freshman forward Johnny Gaudreau and beat Massachusetts defenseman Joel Hanley to get a clear shot on goalie Kevin Boyle. Mullane finished on a forehand wrist shot.

“If we score, then we’ll try and get the next one,” York said, “but if they score it’s almost imperative that you answer the bell there because once you get behind, if you can’t get back into the game you’re not going to advance in this tournament.”

Milner on Fire

Milner has been the most elite goalie in Hockey East and maybe even all of college hockey over the last month of play, giving the Eagles a chance to win every time they step on the ice. Saturday night, and the weekend series as a whole, was no different. Milner gave up two goals on 33 shots and has only given up 16 goals during the Eagles’ 13-game winning streak.

Milner came up big on multiple occasions during Saturday night’s game after a showing on Friday, which York called “The Parker Milner Show.” Milner highlighted the victory with two key breakaway saves on T.J. Syner in the first period and on defenseman Colin Shea later on.

“You look at Parker’s numbers from February on, boy, no one matches him,” York said. “I don’t think anyone in the country, yet alone our own league … If you look at the 13 game stretch we’re on it’s remarkable what he’s done.”

The Road Ahead

The Eagles will have their hands full when they travel to the TD Garden on Friday night. Their opponent is yet to be determined, but regardless of the results on Sunday, York is just glad to have this series under his belt.

“UMASS is the quickest team we’ve played this year as far as skating ability,” York said. “Not just Syner and Sheary, but the team skates very well. I’m awfully excited about advancing. In our league, three of the four games are going into the third game.”

Depending on Sunday’s quarterfinal results, the Eagles will face one of four possible opponents; UNH, Merrimack, Maine, or Providence. BC took the season series against UNH, Merrimack, and Providence, but lost two of three against Maine including back-to-back wins by Maine. Milner and York both cited the Maine series in Orono as a turning point in their season.

“That bus ride back from Orono when we lost back to back games – that was difficult for us,” York said. “The kids just persevered through it and now we find ourselves going to the Garden this weekend to hopefully capture that Lou Lamoriello Trophy.”

Eagles Sweep UMass In Quarterfinal

(Photo By Daniel Lee/Heights Editor)

By Chris Marino, Assoc. Sports Editor

The No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey team (27-10-1) was the only team to advance to the Hockey East Semifinals in two games this weekend, with a series-clinching 3-2 victory over Massachusetts (13-18-5) tonight at Kelley Rink. The Eagles were led by junior goaltender Parker Milner, who finished the night with 33 saves. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin scored the game-winner in the second period.

“This is the third year in a row that we’ve faced a Don Cahoon team in the first round, and we’ve always felt Sunday morning and late on Saturday night how fortunate we are to advance,” said head coach Jerry York. “We know exactly what to expect from his kind of team. They’re going to skate well. They’re going to compete at a very top level. And they always give us a real battle to get to the Garden.”

The first period saw UMass fly out of the gate. Just like in the first game of the series, the Minutemen created a number of early scoring opportunities. Forward Conor Sheary started the scoring when he took a wrap around pass from behind net and struck glove side. Around a minute later, BC responded with a two-on-one breakaway score for Pat Mullane. Mullane took the feed from freshman Johnny Gaudreau, who to that point had an assist on all three quarterfinal scores for the Eagles since Friday night.

The Eagles stayed active in the offensive zone, creating opportunities with the power-play unit. Sophomore Bill Arnold and senior Paul Carey executed a perfect give-and-go, as Arnold placed the puck right on the stick of a rushing Carey to put the home team up 2-1.

BC goaltender Parker Milner received a lot of pressure from the UMass offensive attack, but was able to settle down for the remainder of the period. This was most evident when Minutemen senior T.J. Syner came down the ice by himself on a breakaway. He took a hard shot on net, but Milner squared up just in time to block the shot. He finished the period with eight saves.

The Minutemen once again pressured the Eagles’ defense throughout the second frame, but a BC defense led by the physical play of Patrick Wey and Edwin Shea kept them at bay for the majority of the period. The one lapse came at the 18:03 mark when Joel Hanley redirected a hard shot by Michael Marcou for the score, tying the game at two.

The Eagles responded quickly when Milner gunned the puck out of the Eagles zone to junior Chris Kreider. Kreider used great vision to find Dumoulin at the just beyond the circle. Dumoulin didn’t hesitate, and gunned a shot past UMass goaltender Kevin Boyle. Kreider and Milner were awarded assists for the eventual game-winner.

The third period saw great goaltending by Milner, who collected 13 saves after stopping 12 shots the period before. Gaudreau was one of the biggest contributors to the Eagles’ success at killing the clock, due to his great puck handling and evasiveness in the closing minutes.

York praised Milner at the end of the game for his continued success at the end of the season, especially in this two-game series with UMass.

“Parker, both nights, was very, very good,” he said. “Last night he was the reason why we won the game. Tonight, we did a lot of pretty good things. We also got very good goaltending from Parker. Last night was kind of a Milner show. That’s about all we had going for us. But tonight we had a pretty good team effort.”

Dumoulin echoed these feelings, and made it clear that the team has full confidence in Milner as BC moves forward.

“He’s our backbone,” Dumoulin said. “He gives us tons of confidence, knowing that if we make a mistake it’s not over. He’s going to make a big save, like he has in these last couple of games and he has in the last couple of months. That’s huge for us. That’s huge for our confidence with our young guys and us defensemen, knowing that we have a rock behind us. That’s just huge going on in the later round of the playoffs.”

BC Advances To Second Straight Frozen Four

(Photo by Daniel Lee/Heights Editor)

By Chris Marino, Assoc. Sports Editor

Despite falling behind two goals in its NCAA quarterfinal matchup with No. 7 St. Lawrence University, the No. 4 Boston College women’s ice hockey team showed poise, and beat the Saints, 6-3, at Kelley Rink today. The Eagles overcame a difficult deficit, and punched their tickets to the Frozen Four for the second time in as many years.

“The energy on the bench was a big part of it,” said junior Blake Bolden of the comeback. “Once you’re down by two goals, it’s really hard. You have to dig deep, and you have to figure out a way to score goals. We never gave up. We played to win.”

The first period saw both teams evenly matched. BC came away with several scoring opportunities close to net, but a solid SLU defense kept them at bay. On the other end of the ice, junior goaltender Corinne Boyles looked sharp with 12 saves. From the early going, it looked like it would be a goaltending standoff, but freshman forward Alex Carpenter broke the shutout at the 16:30 mark with a shorthanded score. Fellow freshman Emily Field assisted on the goal.

The Eagles went into the locker room with plenty of confidence, up 1-0. SLU changed that quickly, scoring two goals within 40 seconds of the start of the period. Karell Emard started the swing with a top shelf netter off a faceoff. The Eagles had little time to recover from the blow when Michelle Ng broke down the ice and beat Boyles, only 20 seconds after the previous goal.

It didn’t take long for SLU to continue its offensive attack. On a power play, Ellie Williams took advantage of the extra player and drove home a shot to go up 3-1. The Eagles did not appear phased by this turn of events, however, and went straight back to work.

At the 11-minute mark, Field added to her point tally with a power-play goal to bring her team within one. Field found space in the circle and ripped a shot for the score. The Eagles continued to put pressure on SLU’s Carmen MacDonal. Although the Saints had twice as many shots on the period, BC had better quality looks, and created opportunities in the neutral zone.

The home team was finally able to nullify the SLU lead when Bolden broke away with senior captain Mary Restuccia on a two-on-one. The goal was especially memorable for Bolden, who was celebrating her birthday today.

“That goal with 10 seconds left by Blake and Mary, I think, switched our kids’ mindsets going into that third period,” said head coach Katie King Crowley.

Entering the final stanza tied at three, there was a clear playoff atmosphere in Kelley Rink. The Eagles eliminated any chance of the Saints making an early-period run like they did in the second, when senior captain Danielle Welch launched a quick shot from the circle, putting her team up 4-3.

This only began an offensive onslaught for the host. BC outshot SLU 18-5 in the final period. The Eagles gave themselves some cushion with a score from sophomore Taylor Wasylk and an empty-netter from Ashley Motherwell with less than a minute to play.

Defensively, the Eagles were able to shut down the Saints in the final period, keeping the pressure off Boyles. Crowley applauded this effort, as the team managed to maintain the lead from the start of the period.

“In that third period, after we went up by two goals, our defense did a really good job of keeping the puck out of our zone,” she said. “Any time it got near that blue line, they chipped it off the glass into the neutral zone, and gave our forwards a chance to put it deep. I think a lot of our defensemen don’t get enough credit for how hard they play, and how much they mean to this team.”

Crowley was most impressed by her team’s focus throughout the game. Whether up or down in the contest, she credits her players’ full game efforts as the deciding factor.          

“I thought our kids came out with a lot of energy, and finished with a lot of energy,” she said. “I was really proud of the full, 60-minute game. It’s tough when you go down by two goals. That team came at us there in the second period, and I was really proud of the way our kids handled that and came back strong.”

The victory sends the Eagles to the Frozen Four for the second consecutive season. The nation’s top four teams will compete in Duluth, Minn. BC now waits to see if it will be facing No. 1 Wisconsin or Mercyhurst in the semifinals.

Three Impressions From Game One

By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor

It was by no means a pretty game on Friday night at Kelley Rink, but No. 1 Boston College came away with a 2-1 win over UMass. The Eagles showed their ability to find a way to win on an off night, and put themselves up 1-0 in the Hockey East quarterfinal series. Here are three thoughts that stood out from the win:

(Photo by Daniel Lee/Heights Editor)

Milner Keeps Hot Hand

UMass created multiple turnovers that turned into odd-man rushes, but Parker Milner was virtually a brick wall between the pipes all night for BC. Luckily for the Eagles, he only had one hiccup in the game, allowing a third-period goal. Besides that, he recorded 25 saves, and came up with a few highlight-reel stops with his glove. Head coach Jerry York emphasized the clutch performance of his junior goaltender, and noted Milner’s aggressive play as a key to his recent success.

“I thought Parker Milner was outstanding in goal for us,” York said. “He made some really good saves. I think he’s just more confident and assertive in his game.”

Blackout

For the first nine minutes of the opening frame, the Eagles were playing some inspired hockey. They had outshot the Minutemen 6-0, controlled the puck well, and created some solid scoring chances. Then came the blackout. With 11:01 remaining in the half and the action in full swing, the lights above the ice suddenly went off. The video screens on both ends of the ice lost power too, while the concourse lighting remained on. This began an 18-minute delay, as the teams retreated to the locker room while the referees waited for the lights to power back on.

“I think it was a little frustrating for us,” forward Pat Mullane said. “We had a lot of momentum in that first nine minutes. I thought the first nine minutes of that period was some of the best hockey we’ve played in a long time. We were really skating. We were pretty upset by [the delay], but we didn’t let it affect us. We went back into the locker room and kept our composure, regrouped, and said we had to come back out with the same kind of momentum and tenacity. You can’t really control what happens, and I think we handled it pretty well.”

The official word from BC was that the power outage occurred after a switch house in Newton lost power. Multiple buildings across campus and Newton lost power as well, so the cause was not any issue with electrical system in Conte Forum.

39 Seconds Of Brilliance

The second period was largely dominated by UMass, but a quick turn of events gave BC the 2-0 lead when the teams went into the locker room at the second intermission. Midway through the frame, the Minutemen appeared to take the 1-0 lead on a goal from Steven Guzzo. But after an official review, the score was called off, as the referees determined the puck was directed into the net off Guzzo’s skate.

“We got a good turn of events there when the refs looked at the video replay and nullified the goal,” York said. “It seemed to give us a little bit of life.”

The Eagles capitalized on the reversal of fortune right before the end of the period on a tally from Mullane, which was followed by a goal from Tommy Cross just 39 seconds later. Freshman Johnny Gaudreau assisted on both scores, as his line remained out on the ice after the initial goal.

“Johnny Gaudreau’s line there—the two goals on the one shift, it was some outstanding play there in that short duration,” York said.

Mullane credited Gaudreau as well, and spoke about the impact the first goal had on the energy of the game.

“I thought it swung the momentum in our direction, which we carried through for the rest of the period,” Mullane said.