CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- It hasn't been the most rousing of semesters on the ice for Boston College, but the first half of the season closed in a positive way on Saturday night at Kelley Rink.
As head coach Jerry York called it, "a nice Christmas present" for the team heading into final exams and the holiday break. The Eagles were opportunistic in the opening period and rolled along to a 5-1 win over Michigan in the first meeting between the teams in Chestnut Hill since 1990.
The Eagles jumped off to a very fast start and took advantage of several Michigan turnovers, scoring twice on their first three shots in less than seven minutes en route to a 3-0 lead after one.
"It was very misleading," York said. "We have a 3-0 lead, but they've hit like four posts. Sometimes, you come out of the first period and say (there was) some puck luck on our side tonight. I think that's what happened."
BC sophomore Thatcher Demko was beat twice, but each of Michigan's best chances clanked iron in the early going of the first. BC turned back around and found the back of the net twice in the opening period for just the second time this season.
BC's first two goals came both came from defensemen, in less than a two-minute span, as Teddy Doherty and Ian McCoshen found the back of the net at 5:44 and 7:42, respectively.
Doherty finished off a 2-on-1 rush with sophomore Adam Gilmour, scoring the fourth goal of his junior season on a hard shot from the left circle.
"It was a little bit of the story of the game," Michigan head coach Red Berenson. "We had a breakaway early in the game (by junior Justin Selman), we hit two posts ... and then sure enough, their first odd-man rush was a 2-on-1 and they capitalized on it.
"And then the wheels started going in their favor."
The wheels turned quickly as McCoshen took advantage of a defensive zone turnover and let off a shot from the high slot for the second goal of his sophomore year, set up by fourth-line players Cam Spiro and Matthew Gaudreau, at 7:42.
Destry Straight finished off BC's highest-scoring opening frame of the year at 14:03 as sophomore defenseman Michael Matheson concluded a beautiful passing sequence by feeding the senior for a goal that bounced off the top bar and past Wolverine sophomore Zach Nagelvoort.
"That gave us a lot of energy and confidence over the course of the game," York said. "I guess goal posts are saves, but besides the goal posts I thought Thatcher played outstanding in goal tonight."
Michigan doubled up the shot counter in the second period with a 14-7 edge, but neither side found the back of the net. Demko was equal to the task throughout despite allowing some solid offensive chances and two more man-up chances to the visitors.
After all the bounces went BC's way in the first 40 minutes, the Wolverines finally got one at 3:38 of the first as freshman Dylan Larkin chipped a puck over Demko's pad after Nagelvoort and junior Boo Nieves fed him on the breakout. Larkin drove to the net and redirected the puck in for his third goal and Big Ten-leading 16th point of the season.
In a two-goal game, the Eagles rose and took their commanding lead back once again as senior Quinn Smith scored his first of two consecutive goals on an off-angle shot from the left-hand side boards at 12:51.
Smith's sixth goal of the year came at 18:43 as he danced around a Wolverine defender and split the posts in an empty net. Off a feed from sophomore Chris Calnan, the Fairfield, Conn. native Smith finished off the second two-goal effort of his career.
Overall, Michigan held a 42-29 shots on goal advantage and attempted 90 total attempts. Demko was busiest from the shoot, making 15 of his 41 saves in the first period.
With the losses of Johnny Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold from a season ago, it was imperative that BC find some other offensive sources. As mentioned, the defense certainly played its role in the early going with ten goals and 40 points through 17 games.
"I think we know what we have in our room," Doherty said. "We weren't really thinking 'we lost Johnny, we lost Bill' but we knew what we had in our room and guys had to step up. It's more balanced scoring this year, which is good to see."
With the win, BC concludes the semester at 9-7-1 and will not return to the ice until heading to Dartmouth's Ledyard National Bank Classic on Jan. 2-3, 2015.