North Andover, Mass. -- Boston College completely dominated the first period, then held down the fort for a 4-1 victory over Merrimack College in front of 2,549 at a sold-out Lawler Arena.
"We've come here a number of years. I've coached for almost 20 years here, and it's always been a difficult place to play," said Jerry York of playing at Merrimack's small arena that has given plenty of teams, including BC, fits over the years. "[Merrimack] is a hard team to play against. I thought our system and our effort was as good as we've had in this building in a number of years."
York was pleased with his team's balance and consistent effort that made the win at a difficult place to play look rather easy.
"We were pretty solid and methodical in our approach of the game tonight. I was really pleased with how we played as a unit," said York. "There wasn't anything spectacular. Our top line had a goal, but it was more of building on other people."
Boston College's vaunted first line only scored once, but it opened the scoring just 1:23 into the game. Johnny Gaudreau sent a long breakout pass to Kevin Hayes who went in two-on-one with line mate Bill Arnold on the Merrimack net. Hayes cut to the middle and threw a backhander on net that was blocked, but the puck deflected off a Merrimack defender before slowly trickling over the goal line.
"That early goal helped us get started. It gave us a good feeling on the bench," said York.
Merrimack evened the score just over three minutes later on one of just two shots on goal in the period. After some nice cycling by Brian Christie and Connor Toomey, Christie sent a pass out to Mike Collins in the slot who quickly sent a low shot along the ice past BC goaltender Thatcher Demko.
Merrimack took five penalties in the opening period, and the Eagles finally made the Warriors pay on the final one of the first 20 minutes. On the first face-off of the power play Adam Gilmour won the draw back to Teddy Doherty who threw the puck on net. Gilmour was there to deflect the puck down out of midair and into the net. The goal, scored with 42 seconds to play in the period, took just four seconds of the power play.
"It was not the start we wanted. We had to kill [penalties] half the period," said Dennehy.
The referees missed an offsides call that led to Boston College's third goal scored midway through the second period. The Warriors thought they had cleared the zone, but Scott Savage was able to retrieve it close enough to the blue line to avoid the linesman calling it offsides. He started a tic-tac-toe play that saw the puck go to Ryan Fitzgerald before Patrick Brown blasted it home from the circle.
"Upon review the goal was offsides. We have the luxury of video and the [refs] don't so it's a tough call, but when you're playing the number two team in the country you need those calls to go in your favor," said Dennehy.
Besides the Collins goal, the two best chances Merrimack had on the night were breakaways by Ben Bahe who has recently been promoted to the first line.
"With Benny's speed he should at least get one [breakaway] a game. He's an effortless skater. Playing with Mike [Collins] and Brian [Christie] has freed him up a little," explained Dennehy.
"We had good goaltending from Thatcher. The breakaway save Thatcher made was certainly a key part of the game," said York.
Demko was solid all night, stopping 19 of the 20 shots he faced. He was square to the shooters and always appears poised in the crease for such a young freshman.
Neither team could muster much offense in the final period with BC out shooting Merrimack, 5-4. Austin Cangelosi added an empty netter to seal the deal with 52 seconds to play.