October 14, 2013

BC enjoys a day of firsts in win over RPI

By Joshua Kummins

BC freshman Ryan Fitzgerald (North Reading, Mass.) notched the first goal of his collegiate career Sunday against RPI. (Dave Arnold Photography)

Final: Boston College 7, Rensselaer 2

Recap: Sophomore Johnny Gaudreau did what he does best on the opening score of the game, going inside-out on the RPI defense before dishing to senior Kevin Hayes (Dorchester, Mass.) across the crease for his first goal of the season on the power-play just 2:03 into the proceedings.

The Engineers squared the score at 17:05 of the opening frame when sophomore Milos Bubela deposited a loose puck past rookie Thatcher Demko. The goal was put home on a rebound in front and credited after a pretty lengthy video review.

Gaudreau and junior Quinn Smith (Fairfield, Conn.) opened the Eagles' scoring in the second with a pair of goals in 13 seconds.

Hayes found Gaudreau at the bottom of the faceoff circle before he banged in a rebound to put the Eagles ahead at 6:24, before Smith corralled a juicy rebound in the slot and put the loose puck into an open net behind RPI keeper Jason Kasdorf.

At 11:02, the Eagles defense collapsed, allowing a rare breakaway and RPI rookie Jimmy DeVito lifted a backhander over Demko for his first collegiate goal.

Two of the Eagles' next three scores were also first-collegiate markers. At 15:29 of the second, Ryan Fitzgerald (North Reading, Mass.) beat Kasdorf on a rebound, before Chris Calnan (Norwell, Mass.) did the same at the 3:04 mark to chance the first-team All-ECAC selection from the nets one day after posting a road shutout over Sacred Heart.

Those two scores were sandwiched around the first goal of the season from senior Bill Arnold (Needham, Mass.) just 18 seconds into the third. At 12:03, Steve Santini closed the scoring and gave the Eagles a 7-2 lead with a ripper from just outside the faceoff dot.

Demko made 12 of his 25 saves in the first period and earned his first win as an Eagle, fresh off a stellar 2012-13 campaign with the U.S. Under-18's in which he posted 30 victories, including milestone wins at Michigan and Merrimack.

Records: Boston College 1-1-0 (0-0-0 Hockey East), RPI 1-1-0 (0-0-0 ECAC)

Key Play of the Game: Any Jerry York team knows "resiliency" is a very key word, and the Eagles showed that off with a pair of quick strikes - in less than 15 seconds - to open second period scoring. Gaudreau and Smith caught the RPI defense off guard with a pair of great goals to virtually put the dagger in the visitors, which were predicted atop the ECAC race by some prior to the season.

Plus: Significant contributions from the Eagles' freshman class were a huge asset. As mentioned, three scored their first-ever goals and the class also combined for four assists. Head coach Jerry York also noted it was Santini's first time finding the back of the net since playing with the U.S. Under-18 Team about a year ago. ... In addition, the Eagles cashed in on both of their power-play opportunities with Hayes' and Gaudreau's goals.

Minus: Kasdorf, who entered the season after a stellar showing as a freshman, certainly was not up to par on the night, allowing six goals on 15 shots. ... On the BC side, the Eagles allowed RPI to seven man-up chances and also allowed 13 of the 15 shots on goal credited in the period.

Notable: Three Eagles (Fitzgerald, Calnan, and Santini) struck for their first collegiate goals in the game. BC is the nation's youngest squad with an average age of just 20 years and 58 days. ... The game marked the first meeting between the two sides since the 2007 IceBreaker Tournament, and the Eagles improved to 10-1-5 on home ice against the Engineers in all-time history. ... With a goal and two assists, Gaudreau moved within one point of the century mark for his career.

Quotable: "I think we've played two very good clubs now - Michigan and RPI. Both will be NCAA participants and I would be very surprised if I am not accurate in that respect, so they will be in the field. They are good barometers for us to play and I thought, tonight, we got some good play from a lot of different people." --York on his team's strength of schedule in the early going and how they responded for a strong effort in game two.

Final Thoughts: The Eagles finished the first period with just nine total shot attempts and were outplayed for a considerable chunk of the early going, but as usual, they came back out and found a way. Plain and simple: That is what good teams do.

Next: The Eagles and No. 4 Wisconsin will be skating against one another for the first time since the 2009 National Championship on Friday night at 7 p.m. RPI returns to Commonwealth Avenue on that same night for a contest with No. 19 Boston University.

Twitter: @JoshuaKummins
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