January 5, 2014

Fighting Irish make push, but Eagles hang on for victory

By Jesse Connolly

Kevin Hayes (right) set up a pair of BC goals in the Eagles' victory at Fenway Park Saturday. (Photo: Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)

Final: Boston College 4, Notre Dame 3

Recap: In Saturday's matinee between Providence College and Merrimack, it took over 40 minutes of hockey for someone to open the scoring. In the nightcap between BC and Notre Dame, it took less than five. Brendan Silk buried his first goal of the season 4:54 in to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Precisely four minutes later, Johnny Gaudreau utilized his blazing wheels and buried a feed from Bill Arnold (Needham, Mass.) from close range to give Boston College an early 2-0 lead. 

With under five minutes to go in the frame, and a penalty call coming on Silk, the Irish used the extra attacker to their advantage when Mario Lucia beat Brian Billett on a shot from the slot to cut the Eagles' lead in half. The eventful opening period ended with Michael Sit getting the gate for boarding, giving Notre Dame a five-minute power play to begin the second period.

T.J. Tynan tallied for the Fighting Irish 23 seconds into the middle frame, but that was all his team could  muster during the lengthy man advantage. Tynan's goal was the lone tally of the period. 

With BC shorthanded early in the third, Arnold scored his fifth of the season 4:38 in, cashing in on a gorgeous feed from Kevin Hayes to make it 3-2 in favor of the Eagles. Their lead lasted just three minutes, as Bryan Rust -- who set up Tynan's goal in the second period -- buried the equalizer with 12:31 left in regulation. 

The Eagles retook the lead promptly, with Gaudreau netting his 17th tally of the season just 52 ticks after Notre Dame tied it. That proved to be the game-winner.

Records: Boston College (13-4-2, 7-1-1); Notre Dame (10-8-1, 3-5-1)

Key Play of the Game: In the final seconds of the period, Notre Dame pushed to tie the game while on the man advantage. They crashed the crease and were able to get the puck under Billett's pads and into the back of the net, but an initial no-goal call stood up after officials reviewed the final play of the game.

Connolly's Commendations: Helluva game for the trio of Gaudreau, Arnold and Hayes. BC's "second line" combined for seven points (3g, 4a) on the night. The rest of the roster combined for three. Gaudreau -- who now has 35 points through 19 games -- was named the First Star, while Arnold was the Second Star.

The Third Star went to Tynan, who carried the load offensively for the Irish along with Rust. The two combined for seven shots on goal, and had a goal and an assist apiece. 

Connolly's Critiques: A pair of left wingers in Destry Straight and Thomas DiPauli surely hoped to have a more positive impact. Each forward was minus-2 with zero shots on goal. 

Notes: This was the first meeting between BC and Notre Dame as Hockey East foes. Their season series concludes March 1 in Boston. ... The Eagles are now two points up on Providence in the Hockey East standings. Providence and Merrimack skated to a 1-1 tie earlier in the day. ... The Irish fell to 1-5-0 in their last six league games.

Final Thoughts: After an almost entirely uneventful opener, the second Frozen Fenway showdown on Saturday was packed with far more entertainment value. Even the aesthetics were more memorable, with BC's revamped gold jerseys and the glimmering gold helmets of the Irish. The Eagles looked like they were on their way to a blowout victory early on, but the Irish showed some real fight. If they had an extra second or so to work with, the outcome of this game could've gone in their favor.

Next: BC will host Providence College on Friday. Notre Dame will welcome Alabama-Huntsville to town the same night.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com