Star power lifts Irish to upset of Boston College, 3-2
Tobias Hoonhout | Saturday, December 10, 2016
In dramatic fashion, the 14th-ranked Irish came back from an early two-goal deficit to beat rival No. 4 Boston College, 3-2, in front of a packed house at Compton Family Ice Arena.
Star junior forward Anders Bjork was the catalyst once again for the Irish (9-6-2, 5-3-1 Hockey East), scoring two goals and being a constant threat, and junior goalkeeper Cal Petersen came up with a huge late-game save to preserve the win.
The game started in a back-and-forth fashion, with both teams trying to get an early goal. The Irish were the first to come close, as junior Dawson Cook ripped a shot from the far circle. The puck snuck past Eagles freshman goalkeeper Joseph Woll, but it careened off the post and no one was there to finish it off.
The missed opportunity came back to hurt the Irish only a few minutes later, as Boston College (13-6-1, 8-1-1 Hockey East) capitalized on its first power play of the night. Sophomore forward Andrew Oglevie was called for hooking, and barely 30 seconds into the penalty, freshman forward David Cotton slotted one home on a redirection off assists from freshman Julius Mattila and sophomore Chris Brown.
Five minutes later, Irish junior defenseman Luke Ripley was called for a penalty, and once again the Irish paid for their mistake. Mattila and Brown were again involved, as Mattila scored from the left circle to put the Eagles up 2-0.
The Irish ramped up the pressure in Boston College’s zone to try to force turnovers and create chances to get back in the game. The best opportunity came with just over five minutes left in the first period, when Cotton was called for interference, giving Notre Dame a power play. While the Irish had several shots, the Eagles penalty kill kept the Irish off the scoreboard.
“It was individual breakdowns,” Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said of the goals in the first period. “First of all, unnecessary penalties, both penalties they scored on were unnecessary, and there were individual breakdowns on both of those goals by our defense.”
In the second period, the Irish came out with a sense of urgency, laying multiple hits early and trying to get back in the game. They were gifted an early power play, as Boston College freshman forward Graham McPhee was called for hooking, but again failed to convert as the Eagles penalty kill held firm.
It was then Boston College’s turn when junior forward Connor Hurley was called for slashing. But this time, the Irish were ready. Off of an Irish steal, Bjork and Oglevie rushed out in transition, and Bjork slotted Oglevie in, who flashed a shot past Woll and off of the pipe. The shorthanded chance reignited the Irish, and McPhee was penalized again for slashing on the play.
On the subsequent power play the Irish finally broke through. As it has been time and again this season, Bjork provided the spark, sniping a shot over the shoulder of Woll into the upper left corner to get the Irish back in it.
The crowd erupted, and Notre Dame didn’t slow down.
Another power play came at 11:05, and with the momentum clearly shifted, the Irish had little trouble creating a number of good chances, but none found the back of the net.
Four minutes later the Irish did, though. A diving junior forward Jake Evans stole the puck in the Eagles zone and slipped it to Oglevie, who finished with composure to complete the comeback. The Eagles looked to respond, and had a good opportunity at the 16:35 mark with a power play off of an illegal use of the hands by sophomore Dylan Malmquist.
As they had done previously, the Irish looked to get out in transition short-handed, and off of a steal, Bjork raced down the ice with Oglevie in a two-on-one. Bjork faked the pass, then shifted back to his right and ripped a shot short side past Woll to put Notre Dame on top, 3-2.
“[Oglevie] has a ton of speed, and we knew that BC has a ton of skilled players, so they’re thinking offense, especially on the power play, so we knew that we might get a chance or two on the penalty kill if we were in the right spots,” Bjork said. “We got two there and hit the crossbar on one and scored the other so I think we haven’t had many shorthanded goals this year, so me and Ogie kinda talked about ‘Let’s get a shorty, let’s get the guys going.”
The Irish were on top, but the game was far from over. The first chance of the third fell to Notre Dame, as sophomore Bobby Nardella baited Eagles senior captain Chris Calnan into tripping him at 2:07 into the period. On the subsequent power play, the Irish had several good looks, but Woll made some good saves to kill off the penalty.
Boston College looked to get out and create chances, but Notre Dame matched its rival at every step, and the Irish had another power play at 8:18 when freshman defender Michael Campoli was called for roughing on Bjork. But the Irish failed to get a clear chance to put the game away, and the Eagles stayed in it. The game began to turn into an end-to-end affair, as Boston College pushed to tie the game, and Notre Dame looked to put it out of reach.
The play of the game came with a minute to go, as Cotton got on the end of a pass from behind the net and fired a snap shot on net, only to be somehow denied by a diving effort from Petersen. Boston College pulled Woll in the final seconds in a last desperate attempt to score, but the Irish defense held firm to close out the important Hockey East win.
“We’ve been saying we need to have a playoff mindset,” Bjork said. “Do or die, because all these games matter, and the games that we’ve lost, some of the tough losses that we’ve had, those are going to come back to haunt us if we don’t start having that playoff mindset, in every game, like it’s a championship game or an elimination game, and with this being the last game before break that’s definitely the mindset we’ve had.”
After a tough conference win, the Irish have off until New Year’s Eve when they host Alaska at 4:05 p.m.