CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- On Friday night at Kelley Rink, the No. 2 Boston College Eagles (21-4-3, 13-1-1 Hockey East) were certainly not caught in the pre-Beanpot trap.
The Eagles, led by a hat trick from senior Bill Arnold (Needham, Mass.), dominated the visiting Merrimack Warriors (7-16-3, 2-10-2) from start to finish and, in the process, swept the season series with a 6-1 win.
BC is now unbeaten in its last 14 games dating back to a loss to Holy Cross on the day after Thanksgiving and is 13-0-1 in that span. Merrimack has not won a game in Chestnut Hill since Oct. 31, 1997 and is 0-25-3 since.
“I thought it was a good game for us,” BC associate head coach Greg Brown said in place of Jerry York during the postgame press conference. “I think our guys had their legs and were moving very well. … After the first period, I thought we did a good job getting out of the zone against heavy forecheck.”
It did not take long for the Eagles to find their way to the scoreboard and they did so a man down just 1:18 into the first period. Junior Johnny Gaudreau extended his national best point-scoring streak to 24 games, setting up his linemate Arnold for a tap-in goal alone in the left-hand circle to Merrimack junior Rasmus Tirronen.
The same pair connected for BC’s second goal at 14:03 as Gaudreau slid a pass to Arnold who outlasted an outstretched Tirronen in the low slot.
At 6:22 of the second, Eagle captain Patrick Brown crashed the net for his seventh goal of the season, taking a pass from rookie winger Ryan Fitzgerald (North Reading, Mass.) for a 3-0 lead.
A pair of freshmen connected to give the Eagles a 4-0 lead an even six minutes into the final stanza. Adam Gilmour (Hanover, Mass.) put in a beautiful deflection of Scott Savage’s initial shot from the point for his sixth goal of the season.
“They’ve come along, they’ve really grown,” Brown said of the Eagles’ ten-member freshman class. “Pretty much each month, you can see they’re better than the month before. They’ve been a huge part of our team and give us much more depth than we’ve had in the first part of the season.”
Entering the night, Arnold had posted five multi-goal games but finished off his first-ever hat trick at 10:46 of the third. He potted a rebound left by Gaudreau, his third assist on as many of Arnold’s tallies. Sophomore Brendan Silk (Wakefield, Mass.) joined the scoring parade at 14:44, tipping in classmate Teddy Doherty’s (Hopkinton, Mass.) shot from the point.
“Especially this year, they haven’t really been coming that easy,” Arnold said. “I have Kevin and Johnny on my line, so they made it pretty easy with some back-door goals.”
Chris LeBlanc (Winthrop, Mass.) put the Warriors on the board on a rebound 15:46 into the final stanza for the sixth marker of his freshman season.
Believe it or not, the Warriors have won more games (three) this season when trailing after two periods this season than they have when leading or tied (two) but the comeback was not in the cards on this night as freshman Thatcher Demko nearly pitched the shutout with 23 saves.
“Don’t get discouraged,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy commented about his post-game message to his team which was its third loss in a row. “You get breaks when you play hard enough for a long enough period of time. Pucks go off the other team’s skate on the power play and in, off the post and in. … I thought we played pretty hard tonight.”
UMass Lowell 2, Boston University 2 (OT)
The Terriers (8-15-4, 3-8-3 Hockey East) bounced back from Monday night’s Beanpot loss to earn a crucial league point with a stalemate against the No. 7 River Hawks (18-7-3, 8-4-2) at Agganis Arena. BU senior Matt Ronan (Woburn, Mass.) scored the first goal of his college career at 2:31 of the second period for the tie.
Massachusetts 3, Northeastern 0
Marc Hetnik (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) scored his first goal at the 1:33 mark of the second period and that was all the offense the Minutemen (8-16-4, 4-8-3 Hockey East) needed in a 3-0 shutout of the 11th-ranked Huskies (16-9-3, 8-6-1) at Matthews Arena. Steve Mastalerz (North Andover, Mass.) pitched a 27-save shutout for UMass. Junior Clay Witt continued his stellar season for the Huskies, making 45 saves, including 20 in the middle frame.
Vermont 5, New Hampshire 2
Brendan Bradley and Chris McCarthy each scored a goal and two assists and freshman Mike Santaguida made 26 saves to lift the No. 19 Catamounts (14-9-3, 6-7-0 Hockey East) in the opener of a two-game series at Whittemore Center. For the ‘Cats (16-14-1, 8-7-0), Nick Sorkin and Matt Willows each chipped in two assists.
Maine 2, Notre Dame 1
At Compton Family Ice Arena, the Black Bears (12-9-3, 6-4-2 Hockey East) picked up their first true road win of the season against the Irish, thanks to Connor Leen and Brice O’Connor scoring goals and fourth-year Martin Ouellette making 36 saves.
Harvard 3, Dartmouth 0
After a near two-hour delay due to a pre-game Zamboni malfunction, junior Steve Michalek (Glastonbury, Conn.) turned away all 21 shots he faced to lead the Crimson (7-12-3, 4-9-3 ECAC Hockey) to a big league victory over longtime rival Dartmouth (4-16-3, 3-12-1). Three freshmen scored goals for Harvard, which handed the Big Green a third loss in four games
Quinnipiac 6, Clarkson 3
Thanks to two goals from junior sniper Matthew Peca and another rapid fire goal from senior Connor Jones,the No. 3 Bobcats (20-4-5, 10-2-3 ECAC Hockey) doubled up the visiting Golden Knights (16-11-2, 9-6-0) at High Point Solutions Arena. Jones scored just ten seconds into the first period, becoming the first player in NCAA history to score ten seconds or less into a game twice.
Yale 3, Rensselaer 2 (OT)
Rookie Mike Doherty’s (Reading, Mass.) goal 59 seconds into extra time and freshman Alex Lyon made 35 saves in his ninth win to lead the No. 13 Bulldogs (12-6-4, 7-5-3 ECAC Hockey) at Houston Field House in Troy, N.Y.
Union 4, Brown 3
Two first-period goals for the Bears (9-10-3, 6-8-1 ECAC Hockey) and 27 saves from rookie Tyler Steel were not enough in a weekend-opening loss against the No. 4 Dutchmen (18-6-3, 12-3-0) at Messa Rink.
American International 2, Army 1
Senior Jon Puskar scored a goal and an assist as the Yellow Jackets (8-18-1, 7-12-1 Atlantic Hockey) pulled out a victory over the Black Knights (3-21-0, 3-17-0) at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield, Mass.
Connecticut 3, Bentley 0
Senior captains Brant Harris and Jordan Sims each posted a goal and an assist and Robby Nichols improved to 5-0-2 on the season with a 28-save shutout as the Huskies (14-8-4, 12-5-3 Atlantic Hockey) blanked the rival Falcons (13-10-4, 11-5-4) at home.
Sacred Heart 4, Holy Cross 2
A 41-save effort from Andrew Bodnarchuk propelled the Pioneers (8-19-0, 7-13-0 Atlantic Hockey) to victory over the struggling Crusaders (7-17-3, 6-11-3) at Milford Ice Pavilion. Rookie Jordan Minello scored twice in the win.