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BC freshmen spark offense in road win over rival Terriers

Two goals from Alex Tuch led an all-freshman offensive attack as Boston College headed to the other end of Commonwealth Avenue and exited Agganis Arena with a 4-2 win over No. 2 Boston University on Friday night.

Alex Tuch
Alex Tuch
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

BOSTON -- One of the most famous clichés in sports is to throw out records in a rivalry game, and that is no different in the Battle of Commonwealth Avenue.

Boston University (12-4-4, 7-2-2) had the upper hand on the road in November, but Boston College (13-7-2, 6-4-2) continued its recent dominance in Agganis Arena in Friday's night's back end of the Hockey East season series.

Alex Tuch scored twice to lead an all-freshman offensive attack for the Eagles as they held off a late BU rally for a 4-2 win, their 11th in 15 all-time meetings on the other end of Commonwealth Avenue.

"I thought our team played very well tonight," BC head coach Jerry York said after his team extended its unbeaten streak to 6-0-2, dating back to Dec. 5. "It's one of the few times in the last number of years we came down here as a clear underdog."

"Just based on the records, that was the role we had," he continued, "but I thought we responded well to the challenge."

Respond? They did. The Eagles played a tremendous first period on the road, taking a 2-0 lead on 15 (of its 41 total) shots on goal on their bitter rivals.

Defenseman Hanifin had a hand on both goals in the first, scoring the first on a 5-on-3 power play at 6:41 as he took a feed from sophomore partner Ian McCoshen and ripped one home from the middle of BU junior Matt O'Connor's right side faceoff circle.

Hanifin worked through the BU defense to set up Tuch's sixth goal of the season at 17:43, wheeling around the net and sending the puck into the slot for Tuch to send home after coming in from the right side.

"We lost to the better team tonight," BU head coach David Quinn said. "I thought they were playing with a little bit more passion, a little more pace, and for some reason we were a little bit flat."

BC continued its dominant start in the second with 11 of the period's 20 shots on goal en route to extending its lead to three. On another two-man advantage, it was Tuch who buried for the Eagles at 13:43 to ensure his fourth multiple-point game of the season.

Sophomore Ryan Fitzgerald, who hadn't scored a point since Jan. 2, handed out the primary assist while working in the flank to O'Connor's left side. The North Reading, Mass. native slid the puck up to the center of the slot and Tuch fluttered a wrister into the back of the net with little resistance.

"I wasn't content on my first half of the season and I think I wanted to step my level of play up even higher than I was at World Juniors," Tuch said, "and I think it showed a little bit tonight. It really helped having the chemistry with my linemates (freshman Zach) Sanford and (sophomore Adam) Gilmour."

"I thought for the first time all year we looked like we had four freshmen defensemen in the lineup," Quinn said. "Again, part of that is that the BC forwards are big and strong and they make you defend. I thought our lack of pace with the puck caused us a lot of problems. There wasn't an urgency to our game."

But as they have done all season, the Terriers came to life in the third period and didn't waste much time finally cracking the scoreboard. The often-called "third period team" showed up again, scoring twice more to lift their total goal output in the final frame to 39 on the season.

Junior Danny O'Regan extended his comfortable team-leading goal count to 15 just 1:17 into the final frame, taking freshman Jack Eichel's feed for a wrist shot from the top of the left dot.

Matt Lane took advantage of a lucky bounce, bringing the Terrier deficit to just 3-2 at the 16:37 mark of the third. After BC sophomore Thatcher Demko was unable to control a shot put on by BU freshman Nikolas Olsson, the puck skidded into the slot and onto Lane's stick for his fifth goal and tenth point of the season.

The goal brought the crowd of 6,142 fans to life, but Sanford silenced it as he split the posts on an empty net from outside BC's own blue line with 33 seconds left.

Things are clicking at the right time after another victory, and that's just what York's clubs do. They find ways to win when the games get bigger.

"Our team, as we're assembling it, it all starts from the back end -- our defense and goaltender. They're really coming strong; it's the strength of our club," York said, "and now the offense is starting to chip in and make some plays. Despite our record and ranking nationally, we have a chance to become a pretty good club here."

The Eagles take a Sunday afternoon road trip to Maine to conclude their season series with the Black Bears before returning home to host Merrimack on Wednesday. BU is also back at it Sunday, hosting UMass Lowell in an important league clash.