Chesnut Hill, Mass. - When Boston College began its current unbeaten-streak Dec. 6, they did so with a high-powered offense. More recently, the play of Thatcher Demko has won the Eagles some games.
Now, they're getting a little bit of everything.
Behind another strong performance in net from Demko, and an early goal from the nation's leading scorer Johhny Gaudreau, Boston College shut out UMass Lowell 3-0 at Conte Forum Friday night.
"Tonight might have been a solid an effort for 60 minutes from the goaltender, to the defense, to the forwards that we've had this year," said BC head coach Jerry York. "I was very pleased that we weren't content to play out the regular season and wait for the playoffs.
"What made it more easily attainable for us was bringing the seventh ranked team in the country Lowell into our building."
Gaudreau extended what's now a 27-game point-streak with a goal midway through the first period. With Boston College on the power play, a turnover at center ice put the puck on Patrick Brown's stick. The Eagles captain dropped a pass to Gaudreau at the dots, and Gaudreau skated toward the goal line. From an off-angle, with seemingly no space to shoot at, Gaudreau snuck the puck between the shoulder of Connor Hellebuyck and the crossbar to give Boston College a 1-0 lead.
"The first goal was an incredible play by Johnn Gaudreau," said York. "He was almost at the goal line, and to go top shelf, short side; that's unbelievable skill."
UMass Lowell would apply pressure after the Eagles tally, but BC did a good job of keeping the River Hawks chances to the outside, and limiting the traffic in front of Demko.
It appeared Lowell might draw even in the middle frame after Isaac MacLeod took a five-minute major and game misconduct, giving the River Hawks an extended power play. But Demko was solid in net for the Eagles, and Lowell struggled on zone entries and the man-advantage went by the wayside.
"Especially losing [Mike Matheson] last weekend, and then Isaac getting kicked out for the penalty there, it's tough to have four or five guys back there, but I thought all our D stepped up to the plate when we needed them," said Demko. "There was probably one or two redirects on their five minute major that they got through to the net, and our D did a great job of boxing guys out so they didn't get very many second opportunities throughout the game, which makes my job a little bit easier."
In the third, the River Hawks again got a great opportunity to even the score at one. Adam Chappie fed a wide-open Michael Fallon out in front, but Demko glided through his crease to answer the shot.
The save proved even more critical, as the Eagles would score on their next trip up ice. Adam Gilmour planted himself on top of the crease, and deflected home a Scott Savage shot to double BC's lead to 2-0 at the 3:15 mark.
"There's not much Hellebuyck can do with that," said York of Gilmour's goal. "We had to earn our goals. They don't give you many chances."
Lowell would continue to push to try to crack Demko, but it would also leave them vulnerable at the other end. Only 1:53 after Gilmour's goal, Patrick Brown hit Austin Cangelosi streaking through the neutral zone. The freshman broke in all alone on Hellebuyck before roofing a shot on the backhand and pushing the score to 3-0.
"Thatcher played extremely well, and continues to get better through the course of the year," York said. "He works very hard in practice, and it kind of shows in his game.
"Right now, he's on top of his game."
Demko continued his strong play in net for BC, making 30 saves for his second shutout of the season, and pushing his record to 13-1-2.
The win pushes BC's unbeaten streak to 18 games at 17-0-1. That stretch also coincides with the same period Gaudreau was put on a line with Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold. The Eagles had already clinched Hockey East last weekend, but with the conference tournament and the likely national tournament approaching, there's still much to play for.
"One of the things we talked about to our team this week was that even though we've won a trophy that we had to stay hungry," York said. "We have to keep improving, we have to get better, and I think our kids understood that.
"You can't stand still, because then other teams are going to push by you."