CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Notre Dame controlled the offensive pace of Thursday's clash with No. 3 Boston College for much of its duration, but it took a come-from-behind effort in the third period before Irish eyes could smile at the end of the night on Chestnut Hill.
The visitors from South Bend, Ind., scored three times in the final frame for a 4-3 win, after BC junior goaltender Thatcher Demko made 20 saves against them in the first two periods.
The Irish close the first semester with a 9-4-4 record and on a four-game win streak.
"It was a great comeback for us to be able to score three goals on one of the better goaltenders in the country," said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson, whose team held a 39-26 shots on goal advantage in the game. "It was a great comeback."
On the flip side, BC drops to 13-2-1 and sees its 13-game unbeaten stretch ― the longest by an Eagle club since 2013-14 ― come to an end in the final game before the holiday break.
"Really a difficult loss for us," said BC head coach Jerry York, whose team was missing forwards Alex Tuch, Chris Calnan, and Miles Wood to injuries and illness, respectively. "We had a 3-1 lead in the third period, and we couldn't close it out."
The Irish controlled the first period and drew first blood at the 10:21 mark. After freshman defenseman Bobby Nardella took a shot from the point, classmate Jack Jenkins pounced on a loose rebound on the left side.
As they have done so well all season long, the Eagles clawed their way back even and finished the first period in a 1-1 tie.
Junior Adam Gilmour cracked the goal column for the first time in four games 15:04 into the opening period, taking a forward feed from Austin Cangelosi before working a pair of Irish defenders and opening up a shooting lane in the low slot.
BC finished off a carryover penalty kill just over two minutes into the second period, and quickly mustered a golden opportunity to take the lead. Sprung for a breakaway, freshman Colin White got taken down as he approached Cal Petersen's goal.
"He did (make some big saves)," Jackson said. "They've got so much skill. They break you down and then they get chances, so if you don't have goaltending in this league especially you're not going to win."
Petersen held his ground on the ensuing penalty shot, holding steady on a shot right to his blocker to keep the score tied.
Neither side found the back of the net in the second period. The Irish held the shooting edge, although by a much closer 8-7 margin. The Eagles showed a great chance a little more than seven minutes into the period as White found junior Ryan Fitzgerald streaking through the slot, but the shot skidded wide of goal.
Demko held his ground all night long, coming up with particularly impressive stops to begin the third period as freshman Joe Wegwerth crashed the crease.
The Eagles, after looking down and out for much of the game despite playing in a tied game, burst for the go-ahead goal at 3:48. Cangelosi made a beautiful play to tip home senior captain Teddy Doherty's long shot for his sixth goal of the season.
Sophomore Zach Sanford contributed his second of three assists on the play, dropping the puck off for Doherty's shot ahead.
Cangelosi scored his second straight goal at 7:05, taking the carom from a Doherty point shot off the end boards. The Floridian junior was in the right place at the right time at Petersen's left crease.
Notre Dame responded with the first of three straight goals to close the game and hand the Eagles their first loss since the second game of the season on Oct. 11 at Rensselaer.
"I thought we battled hard," Doherty said. "I said in the locker room after the game that I thought we played 50 really good minutes, really smart minutes. We broke down there at the end, maybe we were tired I'm not sure. ... It's not the outcome we wanted, but that was a good Notre Dame team."
At the 8:33 mark, as sophomore defenseman Jordan Gross' shot from the blue line snuck through traffic and eventually Demko.
Rookie Andrew Oglevie knotted the score at 15:26, hitting the crossbar down from the left circle off Jake Evans' clean faceoff win. Oglevie and Jenkins, both playing among the bottom six Irish forwards, scored goals in the contest. For Jenkins, the game's opening goal marked the first of his collegiate career.
"I was playing our fourth line pretty regularly throughout the game and they scored for us, so I think that gave us a little bit more wind," Jackson said. "They gave us some real quality minutes, which was a real big part of the win."
Freshman defenseman Dennis Gilbert notched the game-winner with just 22.4 seconds left in regulation, taking a shot from the left point that again eluded Demko through traffic.
"Two lost faceoffs resulted in goals for Notre Dame, and that's something we've been pretty good at all year," York said. "Certainly, we don't like to give up faceoff goals."