CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Boston College lost seven players early to the National Hockey League this offseason, leaving some with reasons for concern in the Eagles’ push to keep hold of a top spot in Hockey East.
Gone is some of BC’s outstanding scoring depth from seasons ago, as well as ace goaltender Thatcher Demko.
It has been an up-and-down start for the tenth-ranked Eagles, but Friday night’s home opener with Colorado College at Conte Forum was another step on the positive track.
The team’s top returning scorer from last season, sophomore Colin White scored twice and assisted on another goal as BC cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Tigers, who were playing their fifth of six consecutive games against a Hockey East foe.
“We’re building,” said BC head coach Jerry York, whose team rises to 3-2-0 on the season after its second straight win. “We’ve got a team that works very hard and has good team quickness. I think those were the keys to our game tonight.”
With the likes of White and senior Ryan Fitzgerald returning, it was the back end ― not offense ― that posed most questions. Freshman Joe Woll was solid in goal through BC’s first four games, but classmate Ryan Edquist made his presence felt in his first crack at the starting role.
White did not score his first goal until the late stages of Sunday’s 8-5 win at Wisconsin. York now sees his second-year standout turning a corner, and compared his start to the season to baseball.
“It’s like a batter,” York said. “Sometimes you go 0-fer in the doubleheader, but you come back the next day and get a couple hits. ... When he gets one, he feels good about himself.”
Edquist stopped all but one of the 24 shots he saw, including ten in the third period, to earn the win.
While Woll was touted highly coming out of the U.S. National Team Development Program and had the upper hand in York’s mind at season’s beginning, the Minnesota native stood tall.
“We had thought initially that we recruited two very capable goaltenders,” York said. “He’s been a little bit better in camp and early season, but Ryan got a chance to jump in there (and played well).”
The visitors got the scoring going at 5:30 as freshman Nick Halloran took a pass from Branden Makara, drove down the left wing and whipped his second goal of the season past Edquist.
White leveled the score just over a minute later at the 6:36 mark, potting a puck that came loose after Fitzgerald’s shot bounced off the end wall. The Tigers left White virtually uncovered at the top of the crease, where the sophomore from Hanover, Mass., scored his second goal in as many games.
It was also BC’s first power-play goal of the season after a 0-for-23 start.
“It felt like 0-for-53,” York joked. “Was that all it was, 0-for-23?”
As has been the case throughout college hockey, penalties were aplenty in the contest as a combined 58 minutes were called. The Eagles were able to take advantage of six man-up chances, while the visitors’ lone goal also came on a power play.
“All of us are adjusting to the new NHL rules that are affecting the college game now,” York said. “The standard of play is strict ― if the stick comes up, any type of stick off the ice is probably going to result in a hook, hold or slash. Once the teams get used to it, the game’s going to be quicker and more enjoyable to watch.”
The Tigers were silenced on eight other power-play chances and finished the game on the opposite end of a 34-24 shots advantage.
“The guys made it pretty easy for me, so I kind of was able to get into a rhythm a little bit,” Edquist said. “Even when we were on the penalty kill, the puck was in their end a lot and we were able to get some good clears and even some chances out of there.”
BC took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission as sophomore Casey Fitzgerald scored his first of the season and another on the man advantage, roofing a slapper over freshman Alex Leclerc from deep on the right side with 1:40 left in the opening frame.
It took the Eagles until just the five-minute mark of the second period to extend their lead to 3-1 as freshman defenseman Jesper Mattila’s shot from the point squirted through Leclerc.
White finished the scoring and his 13th multi-point game as an Eagle at 12:51 of the middle frame, as he took a loose puck through the neutral zone, worked around a defender and deked past CC senior Derek Shatzer.