Last night the Eagles picked up right where they left off before the winter break, drubbing the UNH Wildcats 5-2. The play by the first two lines was beyond impressive. Without missing a beat, Johnny Gaudreau re-entered the lineup and his mere presence lifted the team. Pat Mullane, the 2nd star of the game, netted two goals off feeds from his young line-mate Johnny Gaudreau. After the game in the press-room, the Hockey East beat reporters noveled that Mullane may not have had the puck on his stick for more than a half second both times. Two unbelievable feeds required Mullane to simply pull the trigger for the goal. In addition to the work by the first line, contributions by Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes provided two additional tallies to let the Eagles pull away with a 5-2 win despite starting the night trailing 1-0.
After finishing the first period with a 2-1 lead the biggest issue was a lack of traffic in front of the net for the Wildcats. With their lone 1st period goal coming from a turnover behind the net, the rest of their SOG were taken from outside the dots. Overall, Coach Umile believed that his teams biggest issue was poor defending on odd man rushes and not covering BC’s forwards effectively. Coach Umile went on to say:
We just gave them great scoring opportunities and they finished them…I was just disappointed in our defensive play and the way we covered them.
With Gaudreau’s goal coming off a poor line change by the Wildcats, Milner pushed the puck up the ice with a long clearance and Johnny slipped into the offensive zone on a breakaway to put it past the goalie’s glove.
Coach Umile was visibly disappointed with his teams defensive performance but more than his team’s lack of good play it was the chemistry of BC’s top two lines that helped deliver the Eagles 2 points in the victory.
As I put in the 3 Keys to the Game, the chemistry of the first line was clearly noticeable. Mullane’s first goal was set up by Whitney headmanning the puck into the zone. After dropping the puck off to Gaudreau, Johnny made a blind pass to Mullane to freeze the goalie and give Mullane plenty of space to put the puck in. More than the finishing ability by Mullane, the ability for him and Gaudreau to understand exactly where the other would be was impressive. In addition, Mullane’s second goal was a similar feed of Gaudreau knowing where Pat would be and where the execution is impressive, it’s the intangibles that are far and away the most impressive skill that Gaudreau brings to the lineup.
After the game Coach Brown commented on the chemistry not only between the vaunted first line but also with the recently reunited second line after Destry Straight returned from injury:
It was more comfortable for (them)…when those guys (all) get together the whole really becomes bigger than the parts.
The Minnesota loss and the tie to Yale brought some concern to many of the BC Faithful. After such a dominant first half the short let down came at what could be judged as an inopportune time with the UNH home and home staring the team right in the face.
Johnny Hockey came to the rescue with his Gold Medal in hand though. It truly was the familiarity of the Eagle teammates that allowed life to return to normal for BC and deliver yet another dominating win.
Tonight, BC has the challenge of playing a UNH team, that still is very potent, at their barn. The visible frustration of Coach Umile certainly means that his team will be chomping at the bit to make sure that they don’t play their way out of the HE Regular Season Title by losing out on another two points. A quick 3 keys to the game for BC will be:
- Continued contribution from Hayes and the 2nd Line
- Minimize turnovers defensively
- No let down from Mullane, Gaudreau and Whitney
Despite Coach York being out, the program proved that the leadership is in place to keep winning. With the four lines at full strength and the defense playing well despite Patch Alber’s absence look for BC to try and build on their Hockey East lead tonight at the Whit.