Photo courtesy of BC Men's Hockey / Twitter

Men's Hockey Defeats UNH in First Round of Playoffs

Boston College men’s hockey defeated the University of New Hampshire Wildcats 4-3 in overtime on Wednesday night to start off the Hockey East Championship tournament. The game-winning-goal came from none other than the captain, Marc McLaughlin, with under ten minutes left in the first overtime. The goal was McLaughlin’s second of the night.

McLaughlin started the play by feeding the puck to Marshall Warren at the point, creating space. Warren drove to the center of the ice, sidestepping a UNH defender, but was unable to get a shot off. Recovering, Warren outmaneuvered two Wildcats before finding McLaughlin open on the other side of the net. From his knees, McLaughlin rifled a shot between goaltender Mike Robinson and the near post to win the game for the Eagles.

The seven-goal affair opened with Jack McBain scoring six minutes into the first period for his 19th of the year. McLaughlin brought the puck down the left side of the ice to enter the zone before leaving the puck for a trailing Warren. Collecting the puck at the top of the face-off circle, Warren did a half twist and flicked the puck to McBain, who wristed it under the crossbar to make the score 1-0. Notably, McBain did not play in the previous two games against UNH, where the Eagles lost. Both McLaughlin and Warren received assists on the goal. 

The Wildcats answered with just under two minutes to play in the first. After an Eagles’ clear, UNH re-entered the zone with Robert Cronin collecting a pass on the wing. Cronin dropped a pass to the onrushing Tyler Ward who drove hard to the Eagles’ net, collected his own rebound, and roofed it past goaltender Eric Dop despite Ward being in the process of losing an edge. Cronin received an assist on the play.

The second period started with a slashing penalty being called against Drew Helleson two minutes in. From the start, UNH’s lateral passes gave the penalty kill some trouble, but St. Ivany collected the puck in the corner and found Nikita Nesterenko at the blue line. Nesterenko split the Wildcat defense before going five-hole on goaltender Robinson to make the score 2-1. St. Ivany received an assist on the goal. 

Seeing how the Helleson penalty went, all of the Eagles wanted to get in on the penalty action. Twenty-four seconds after the Helleson penalty expired, Eamon Powell went to the box for tripping. Once again, Nesterenko collected the puck at the blueline and outskated the UNH defenders to wrist a shot at Robinson, who turned it aside. Still not done, Liam Izyk took a tripping penalty 21 seconds after Powell’s expired to put UNH back on the power play. This time it was Patrick Giles who had a chance to score a shorthanded goal, but Robinson denied him.

With five minutes remaining in the second period, the Eagles’ finally received a power-play of their own as Eric MacAdams was sent to the box for tripping. Thirty seconds in, McBain lost the puck in the corner but managed to recover, tipping it to the front of the net. Helleson attempted a pass to the wide-open Brandon Kruse, but the pass was blocked by a Wildcat. Luckily, the puck bounced to McLaughlin, who wristed the puck home, making it 3-1 Eagles. McBain and Helleson received assists on the play. 

The Wildcats refused to go down without a fight, clawing their way back into the game on the back of Ward. Halfway through the third, Giles was called for a high-stick and sent to the box, giving UNH its fourth power play of the game. This time, the Wildcats cashed in. A series of tic-tac-toe passing scrambled the Eagles’ penalty kill unit, allowing Ward to knock the puck into the far-post, side-netting from the goal line. Ward’s second of the night gave the Wildcats some life with 10 minutes left in the third. Jackson Pierson and Filip Engarås were credited with assists on the goal. 

And it would be Ward who tied the game at three and completed his hat-trick with five minutes left in the third period. After Izyk was called for goaltender interference, the Wildcats went on the power-play for the fifth time. Winning a face-off in the Eagles’ zone, the puck popped out to Ward, who stickhandled to the point and blasted a shot that beat Dop five-hole to tie the game. The assists went to Kalle Eriksson and Filip Engarås.

Dop and Warren were critical to the Eagles’ success. Dop made 44 saves on the night, including six in overtime to keep the Eagles’ in the game. In addition to recording two assists, Warren routinely generated plays in the offensive zone, hitting the crossbar in the third period and drawing a penalty with 35 seconds left in the third period. Warren’s elusive skating drew extra Wildcat players to him, freeing up his teammates and giving the Eagles extra room in the offensive zone.

The Eagles advance to the Hockey East quarterfinal round, where they will play Northeastern on the road at 7:30pm, Saturday March 12th. The game will air on NESN+. The win is the Eagles’ fourth in a row.

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