CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Boston College hockey fans know a thing or two about players named Gaudreau scoring big goals.
Chalk up another one.
Junior Matthew Gaudreau batted a loose puck home out of a net-mouth scramble with 36.6 seconds remaining on Friday night, lifting the No. 4 Eagles to an exciting 4-3 win over Denver at Kelley Rink.
"It was just a real good college hockey game," BC head coach Jerry York said. "Offense created a lot of problems for the defense on both teams and I think they responded well. Both goaltenders were solid. And we got a bounce at the end of the game."
With the win, BC improved to 5-1-0 on the season and rebounded from last year's NCAA East Regional exit to the Pioneers in Providence, R.I.
Denver sophomore Danton Heinen scored his second goal of the season 9:04 into the proceedings, giving the visitors their second lead in as many meetings with BC. The Bruins prospect opened himself up with a move to the slot and slid the puck past a sprawling BC junior goaltender Thatcher Demko.
Heinen's goal snapped Demko's 206:02 shutout streak as he had not allowed a goal since early in the third period of BC's only loss this year on Oct. 11 at RPI.
The Eagles answered back with 58 seconds left in the period as freshman Miles Wood broke free of the Pioneer defense and directed a sliding puck between Denver junior Evan Cowley's pads. Junior Austin Cangelosi created the play by dishing a beautiful lead pass to Wood moving through the offensive zone.
"That mixture produces positive, positive results. They're all benefiting each other, but somehow that line is really creating some terrific opportunities," York said. "(Wood is) just a really good player, boy. ... His compete level was A+."
Senior defenseman Teddy Doherty gave BC its first lead of the night just eight seconds into the game's first power play, at the 1:52 mark of the second period. The Eagles' captain wound up for a hard shot from inside the blue line that eluded Cowley for his second goal in four games.
Moore connected with Heinen once again at 13:46, this time for a power play goal to tie the game. Heinen tossed a shot on goal from the left faceoff circle that popped over Demko's shoulder.
The squared score didn't last too long into the third period as Cangelosi got himself in the goal-scoring column for the fourth time this year at 2:38. Wood dished the puck through the neutral zone, springing his junior linemate in on a 2-on-1 goal that gave BC another lead.
The Eagles dominated much of the third period by taking nine of the first 12 shots on goal, but the nation's No. 5 team kept its composure and tied the game again with just 3:55 remaining on junior defenseman Will Butcher's goal from the top of the left circle.
"I think there's a lot of positives ― scoring three goals on a great goalie," Denver head coach Jim Montgomery said. "We got a lot better. Our group showed me a lot in the fact we went down 3-2 in the third period and the crowd was into it. We were able to battle back and tie it up, but unfortunately we weren't able to push it to overtime."
Once again, BC showed resilience and was able to snatch victory back for a fourth consecutive time as Gaudreau tapped a loose puck home from the left of the goal mouth.
"Coach talks a lot about stuffs and jams and bringing it to the net," Gaudreau said. "Everybody went to one side and I just saw it laying there, bouncing up. It just came in and I whacked the puck in."
Wednesday was not a good day for the BC program as freshman Jeremy Bracco announced his departure to the Ontario Hockey League, so the Eagles had plenty of reasons to steer from the plan.
The team moved forward in the blink of an eye and some players whose roles were less with him in the lineup stepped up, as evidenced by some re-worked line combinations.
"We were scrambling a little bit for lines and (junior Ryan Fitzgerald) came to us and said he could play the off side," York said. "That created that spot for Matty on the left side. He's a left shot and he just feels a little more comfortable on the left side."
There was no doubt BC still had the talent to compete in Bracco's absence, and they certainly proved that with a big, early-season win. And they showed a whole lot of heart.