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Boston College coach Jerry York and Boston University coach David Quinn downplayed the role of the looming NCAA Tournament implications attached to Friday night’s playing of the Battle of the B Line.
York, whose team has a virtual necessity to win the Hockey East Championship to advance to the NCAA Tournament, made it clear from the onset of the postgame press conference that success at Boston College under his tenure is measured in the number of trophies won, and that his team was “locked in,” focusing on winning the Hockey East Championship with only a cursory glance at the NCAA Tournament.
Yet it is hard to view No. 14 BC’s 3-2 upset victory over No. 7 BU outside the frame of the NCAA Tournament. BC will play for the Hockey East championship on Saturday against the winner of the early game, UMass-Lowell. If the Eagles win that game, they will clinch an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. If they lose, the Eagles’ road to the NCAA Tournament becomes virtually closed.
The teams opened up Friday’s game with an even first period, with both teams pressuring on net. The second period changed the complexion of the game, with the Eagles taking control.
Julius Mattila opened up the scoring for the Eagles, finding space in between Jake Oettinger’s arm and body, giving the Eagles something they hadn’t had all season: the first goal against BU.
“It’s nice to have the first goal, but you still need to go out and play,” York said. “It gave us a lot of energy on the bench.”
The biggest goal of the game, however, came later in the period. During a BU power play, Ryan Fitzgerald brought the puck up the ice on a counterattack and buried the puck past Oettinger, changing the dynamic of the game further.
“I thought the shorthanded goal really changed the momentum of the game,” Quinn said. “I thought the back breaker was the second goal. It’s 1-0, maybe have the chance to make it 1-1 and get some momentum off the power play, but the complete opposite happened.”
After outshooting BU 17-10 in the second period, BC added one more goal in the third period, putting BU in a position where it was chasing a team competing in a must-win game. The Terriers put significant pressure on the Eagles, attempting 42 shots in the second. Ultimately it was the end of the game, with Oettinger pulled, where the Terriers began the climb back into the game.
The BU comeback started on a scramble around the net mouth. Amidst the chaos, a puck trickled past Joseph Woll, ruining the shutout for the freshman goaltender, and giving BU new life.
The Terriers, however, were not done. Just a minute later, Clayton Keller cleaned up a rebound off Woll, burying the puck, creating drama for the final minute.
In the end, the Eagles were able to hold out, but not without fireworks. After a faceoff resulted in Ryan Fitzgerald laying on top of the puck, a brawl broke out, with Brandon Hickey and Casey Fitzgerald breaking out of the scrum shoving. Ryan Fitzgerald came in and joined the fight, when Hickey and Fitzgerald engaged each other. Both were retroactively assessed game misconducts.