BOSTON -- Coming into this Hockey East season, no team's questions loom larger than those of the Boston College Eagles.
It seems that head coach Jerry York's team never enters "rebuilding mode," but that could very well be the phase this season starts out in after seven players were early departures due to signing National Hockey League contracts, including would-be senior goaltender Thatcher Demko.
The Eagles took steps towards answering some of those questions ― and, in the end, earned a 4-3 victory ― in Sunday's exhibition game against Ottawa's Carleton University at Warrior Ice Arena, a dress rehearsal before next weekend's season-opening IceBreaker Tournament in Denver.
Senior Ryan Fitzgerald scored the game-winning goal with 2:28 remaining, while senior Matthew Gaudreau and freshman defenseman Jesper Mattila each notched a pair of assists for the Eagles.
One area of BC's game that was tested often, 13 times to be exact, was its power play. The Eagles managed just one goal, but 21 of their 40 shots in the contest came on the man advantage.
Former UConn forward Brent Norris went to the penalty box just 1:59 into the game for Carleton, so the Eagle power play went to work right away and found the scoreboard just before the timer expired.
Senior defenseman Scott Savage got the scoring rolling at 3:40, capping off an impressive sequence for the BC power play. Sophomore J.D. Dudek took an initial shot on goal from the left side, but a juicy rebound bounced right back to Savage who uncorked a hard shot from the right point past Carleton's Francois Brassard.
As it turned out, Savage's goal was the only one BC would score with an extra man in the contest, but the Eagles' top power-play unit of Colin White, Fitzgerald, Austin Cangelosi, Christopher Brown, and Casey Fitzgerald showed signs that giving them 13 chances to crack the scoreboard may not be wise.
The game featured a combined 103 penalty minutes, with all but eight coming in the third period.
White, BC's top returning scorer after a 43-point freshman season, nearly gave the Eagles a 2-1 lead just past the midway mark of the first as his shot from the slot looked ticketed for the upper part of the net before clanking off post.
Woll gave up the tying goal to the Ravens' Sean Bamford at 8:49 of the first, but Dudek tipped the scales once again less than two minutes into the middle frame on a play that concluded at the tail end of a BC power play. Senior Matthew Gaudreau sent a pass to the Auburn, N.H., native sophomore down low where he stuck an accurate shot over Brassard's shoulder.
The back-and-forth contest continued as Carleton's Brett Welychka tapped in a nice pass from Alexandre Boivin at the top of the crease at 7:38, but BC got its first goal from a freshman less than seven minutes later to take a 3-2 lead.
Graham McPhee scored the goal at 13:19, making a beautiful move around a Carleton defender after receiving senior Austin Cangelosi's pass in the slot. The Bethesda, Md., native and U.S. National Team Development Program product ― one of three rookies with that title on the BC roster ― fired the shot over Brassard's glove from near the left circle.
Adam Chapman evened the score for the Ravens at 13:32, but a usual suspect showed up with the game-winning goal on an outstanding play exactly four minutes after.
White sent the puck towards the net as he hit to the ice, but things worked out perfectly for BC as senior Ryan Fitzgerald collected the loose change and finished the play off with two Carleton defenders on him at the front of the goal.
Woll and fellow freshman Ryan Edquist showed well in their collegiate debuts, combining for 15 saves over the first two periods. Bamford's goal came as he exited the penalty box, while Edquist's tally surrendered to Welychka came on a 5-on-3 power play.
Sophomore Ian Milosz was tested least in the BC net, but his four stops came in the final frame at the end of which Carleton stormed the offensive zone with goaltender Francois Brassard pulled.
The Eagles were able to look at potential fillers in goal and a strong freshman class, get their potent power play quite a bit of work and shake off some of the season-opening rust. Now, it all counts.