CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Boston College head coach Jerry York was not on the bench for Friday night’s game with Providence after undergoing an outpatient eye procedure earlier this week.
After the eighth-ranked Eagles extended their unbeaten streak to five games with a 3-1 win, associate head coach Greg Brown assured those in attendance at the post-game press conference that York was invested in the game, checking in via text message.
“He was active, watching the game,” Brown said. “Sent lots of texts. … It’s always positive, (but) there might be a slight suggestion. Usually just supportive, very similar to every single day he was here.”
After a sluggish start to the game, there were lots of things for York to be positive about as freshmen Zach Walker and Ron Greco each scored their first college goals and their classmate Joe Woll came up big with a 27-save effort in net.
The Eagles’ fourth line comprised of all rookies got on the scoreboard 5:39 into the opening period. Walker took a feed from classmate Mike Booth while striding up the left side, beating Providence’s Hayden Hawkey below the glove.
BC looked to double its lead to 2-0 about halfway through the frame as sophomore J.D. Dudek deflected a loose puck in the slot past Hawkey. Senior Ryan Fitzgerald made a great play to get the puck to the front of the net, but the goal was negated due to goaltender interference.
Woll made a pair of impressive stops on clean breakaways in the opening 20 minutes, denying both sophomore Scott Conway and freshman Josh Wilkins.
Wilkins’ attempt right through the slot came shortly after Dudek’s goal was taken off the board.
Woll stayed with the play all the way through and saw it right to his stick for one of eight first-period stops. “As a freshman, coming in here and doing what he’s done so far, it’s crazy,” BC senior captain Chris Calnan said. “You love playing in front of a guy like that.”
The Friars eventually got on the scoreboard at the 17:14 mark of the first as junior assistant captain Brian Pinho beat Woll to the left post, pouncing on a pass across the crease from sophomore Erik Foley.
The Friars recorded 15 shots on goal in the second period, and while the game swung in favor of the visitors territorially, Woll was again equal to the task. This time, not one puck beat him.
“In the second period, (Woll) was tremendous. The looks we got were outstanding,” Providence head coach Nate Leaman said. “I thought we established our forecheck, I thought we were creating turnovers and working. But again, we’re finding ways to beat ourselves.”
Breakaways doomed the Friars in the first frame, but they had to tip their cap to Woll after the second. He made stops on several Grade-A scoring chances in the period, including back-to-back on freshman Kasper Bjorkqvist and sophomore Bryan Lemos just past the midway mark.
“He was calm when the guys around him weren’t,” Brown said.
The eventual game-winning goal came 59 seconds into the middle period as Calnan sent a perfect pass to classmate Matthew Gaudreau in the left circle where he flicked the wrist and beat Hawkey upstairs for his third goal of the season.
Just as the Friars controlled the second, the Eagles took the game back over in the third and held a whopping 17-4 shot advantage while registering eight of their 11 power-play shots for the game in the period.
“I thought our third period was by far our best,” Brown said. “We had much better legs, we were moving our feet and creating a lot more. It was nice that our goalie was so strong the first two periods, and then I thought we showed some of what we can be in the third.”
Despite such a decided advantage, it took until the 17:18 mark for the Eagles to add insurance to their lead. Greco added the third tally on a rip from the slot that bounced back into play off sophomore Michael Kim’s point shot.
Greco became the sixth Eagle freshman to score a goal already this season. On the heels of BC’s many player personnel losses this offseason, the contributions Greco and several other unheralded rookies have made have been most welcomed.
“I love going on the ice and grabbing the puck when nobody else has it,” Calnan said of Walker and Greco each lighting the lamp for the first time in college. “I’m really happy for those guys, and hopefully they can stay confident and keep scoring.”