CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The game of hockey is often filled with pronounced ironies.
One such irony that exists is that, in an offensive shootout, it is the performance of the goalies that are most celebrated.
The final score of 4-3 does not invite the mind to goaltending or defensive stalwarts. Yet the first point mentioned by both Boston College coach Jerry York and New Hampshire coach Dick Umile was the performance of the goaltenders.
And why shouldn’t they mention the goaltenders? The two netminders made a combined 69 saves on the night, including a few that might find their way into a highlight reel or two.
In a battle of goaltending and high-octane offense, it was the home Eagles who, amidst a celebration of York’s milestone 1,000 wins, emerged victorious, beating Danny Tirone one more time than the visiting Wildcats beat Thatcher Demko.
“I’d like to give full credit to the Wildcats; they played extremely well,” York said. “They exposed some of our weaknesses throughout the course of the game. Thatcher was just out of this world as far as I was concerned, and made some incredible saves.”
The first period set the tone for the game, with both offenses immediately putting pressure on each others nets. Despite 18 shots made on Tirone, he was able to stand tall on each one, helping UNH keep the game deadlocked.
“[Tirone] played very well,” York said. “Dick [Umile] was looking at some saves that Thatcher made, I was clearly looking at some of the saves [Tirone made]. He made some unbelievable saves.”
The crowning moment in Tirone’s night came early in the second period. During a delayed penalty, Scott Savage received a feed that put him in a position to catch Tirone out of position. Tirone went across the crease to make a glove save to rob Savage of what appeared to be a sure goal.
Tirone’s luck did not last forever. On the ensuing power play, Savage put a shot on net that Tirone saved, but Austin Cangelosi put a soft rebound past Tirone for the game’s first goal.
From that point on, the offensive floodgates were opened.
Zach Sanford added to the Eagles’ goal total moments later. Sanford took a feed from Teddy Doherty on the side of the net. Sanford stick handled around Tirone and forced in his ninth goal of the season. Going into a media timeout a few minutes later, it appeared that the game had shifted the Eagles’ way.
The Wildcats, however, responded. On a Matias Cleland rebound, Kyle Smith poked a rebound past Demko to put the Wildcats on the board going into intermission. The goal was a culmination of a momentum shift that occurred after the media timeout. The Wildcats, kept in the game by Tirone’s play, had awoken, and were responding.
It was not until the third period where the Wildcats had come all the way back. Andrew Poturalski put a rebound from Dan Correale home, and the Wildcats had tied the game.
Yet the Eagles responded, from an unlikely source.
Michael Kim, an addition alongside Ian Milosz, did not receive the same scrutiny and attention that Milosz had given the lack of blatantly obvious necessity that Milosz had. Yet Kim acclimated to the college alongside his teammate from the Boston Junior Bruins.
The culmination of Kim’s acclimation came close to the midway point in the third. Steve Santini fed Kim and Kim rifled a slap shot on net and beat Tirone, scoring his first goal and giving the lead back to the Eagles.
Adam Gilmour added to the score total as well. Gilmour took a pass from Christopher Brown coming across the offensive zone. Not unlike a BC basketball player who plays at Conte Forum (albeit on hardwood), Gilmour took an off-balance fade away shot on net. Mustering enough power on the shot, Gilmour beat Tirone, adding to the BC lead.
Much like Tirone and Demko vying for the best save of the night, a UNH counterpart responded in kind. Less than a minute after Gilmour’s goal, Correale fired an off-balance shot, this time moving away from the net as opposed to Gilmour’s lateral fade away, and he matched Gilmour’s tally with one of his own.
Yet, despite the Correale goal and a UNH onslaught later in the period, the effort was not enough, and BC emerged victorious despite a strong effort by the Wildcats.
“I just told the team, just play like that the rest of the season and see where we go,” Umile said. “I really like the way we competed. We got off maybe to a slow start in the first 10 minutes, but I thought we got stronger as the game went on and battled and had an opportunity.”
BC freshman forward Colin White missed significant time in the third period. York revealed after the game that White had “kind of a sprained wrist” and had trouble handling a stick. Miles Wood and Chris Calnan were also kept out of the lineup due to lower-body injuries. York did not reveal if White, Wood or Calnan would play in Monday’s Beanpot final against Boston University.