A hat trick’s worth of goals from a pair of top shelf Hobey Baker Memorial Award candidates and standout netminding from the freshman who is widely considered to be the very best goaltending prospect in all of North America eligible to be selected at the annual National Hockey League Draft coming up this summer enabled # 2 ranked BOSTON COLLEGE to outlast late charging PENN STATE 3-2 in an NCAA non-conference clash at the lovely Pegula Ice Arena in State College.
Rough wintery conditions in central Pennsylvania prevented one of the two assigned referees from ever making it to the match but the official attendance total of 6,214 spectators at The Peg, itself, represented Penn State’s second largest crowd of this 2013/14 season to the new $ 88.0 million dollar hockey rink on campus that was generously financed by the current owner of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, TERRY PEGULA.
The Nittany Lions came out with a lot of energy and sought to pressure the more patient Eagles whenever possible all over the ice. This aggressive policy paid immediate dividends, as did head coach GUY GADOWSKY’s season-long strategy of not trying to be too fancy with possession but rather simply trying to focus on getting a good number of pucks to the front of the net. And so Penn State were able to generate four shots on target in the first five minutes with nary a single reply from their more skillful guests.
Boston College, however, were able to show why it was the Eagles who entered the contest as THE highest scoring team in all of Division I college hockey and soon found the back of the net with what was their very first official shot on goal of the game a little more than seven and a half minutes in. It was a rather flukey goal, to be fair, that was credited to right wing KEVIN HAYES, the 21-year-old senior from Dorchester, Massachusetts, who was the first round choice (# 24 overall) of the Chicago Black Hawks at the 2010 NHL Draft and is currently enjoying what is, by far, his best season ever (25 ga, 19 go, 45 pts) at the NCAA collegiate level. The odd-looking goal was, however, clearly the direct by-product of a noteworthy individual effort from Eagles senior center BILL ARNOLD, who turned Penn State sophomore defenseman CONNOR VARLEY (13 ga, 0 go, 0 pts, – 11 def rat) inside out with his stickhandling into the slot area after a threatening rush down the right wing side.
(Penn State, for the historical record, has also recently conceded goals on their opponent’s first official shot of the game against Big Ten foes Wisconsin and Minnesota earlier this season, as well).
Penn State rearguard CONNOR VARLEY (2), the homegrown sophomore from Lansdale who led all Nittany Lions defensemen in scoring with a dozen points (four goals) last season, skates the puck up ice against the powerful Boston College Eagles during the NCAA non-conference meeting in front of an overflow crowd at the Pegula Ice Arena in State College.
The hosts had a great opportunity to pull level near the ten-minute mark with what was only one of what would be ten odd-man rushes on this night for the Nittany Lions. But Boston College freshman goaltender THATCHER DEMKO snuffed out that chance by displaying form that would allow the 18-year-old from San Diego, California, to make 33 saves on this particular night in snowy State College, Pennsylvania. At the other end of the rink, Penn State’s homegrown rookie shot-stopper EAMON MCADAM was busy showing off some of the potential that convinced the New York Islanders to select the 19-year-old from Perkasie in the third round (# 70 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.
Penn State continued to have more of the play at the start of the second period and tricked the goal judge into thinking they had tied the game when an unlucky shot from Nittany Lions center MAX GARDINER struck the iron and rolled across the face of goal before the puck could be cleared about four minutes in. But the red light had been inaccurately lit and so the third round pick (# 74 overall) of the St. Louis Blues at the 2010 NHL Draft who was the third-leading scorer with 22 points Penn State last term continued with his quest for a first goal of this 2013/14 NCAA season. It was certainly not the first time this season that the snake-bit Gardiner (14 ga, 0 go, 1 as) has been denied by the goal cage, truth be told.
The Nittany Lions were able to equalize, though, almost three minutes later after the lone referee might have been a bit slow to blow the whistle and opportunistic Penn State center ERIC SCHEID (20 ga, 10 go, 15 pts) was able to push the puck over the goal line. The Eagles netminder Demko did well to make a point blank save off of Nittany Lions Canadian legionnaire MIKE WILLIAMSON (12 ga, 1 go, 4 pts, – 2 def rat), the freshman defenseman from Leduc, Alberta, who was chosen by the Vancouver Canucks in the sixth round (# 175 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, and thought he had done enough to freeze the puck under his outstretched left pad. But the officials begged to differ with the teenage Eagles custodian and so the 21-year-old sophomore from Blaine, Minnesota, was able to celebrate his team-leading tenth goal of this season.
Boston College, who are in the midst of what is now an eleven-game unbeaten streak with ten wins recorded during this successful run, almost regained the advantage halfway through the second period when Arnold, the 21-year-old from Needham, Massachusetts, who was the fourth round selection (# 108 overall) of the Calgary Flames at the 2010 NHL Draft, smacked his shorthanded shot from prime real estate in between the hashmarks off the Penn State crossbar.
The surging Eagles (18-4-3) would take the lead once and for all after superstar left wing JOHNNY GAUDREAU (25 ga, 22 go, 50 pts) took possession of a loose puck in his own defensive zone with a little over four minutes remaining until the second intermission. The exciting 20-year-old junior from Carney’s Point, New Jersey, quickly sent a picturesque, tape-to-tape pass across the width of the rink to his center Arnold up near the Nittany Lions’ blue line on the right wing and then raced down the ice to get in position for a return feed. The crafty Arnold then wisely held the puck until Penn State’s standout defenseman, LUKE JUHA (20 ga, 4 go, 13 pts, -2 def rat), was forced to commit before distributing to the wide-open Gaudreau in the slot … and a deadly deke to the backhand illustrated beautifully why Boston College’s returning NCAA (East) First Team All-America is the very best player in all of college hockey.
The home team had a couple of good chances on the power play at the start of the third period but were, once again, foiled by a combination of quality goaltending from the Eagles freshman Demko as well as a bit of bad luck. Penn State left wing CASEY BAILEY (16 ga, 2 go, 4 pts), the 22-year-old sophomore from Anchorage, Alaska, who led the Nittany Lions with 27 points (14 goals) in 27 NCAA games last season, had a wide open goal to shoot at with Demko down and out after yet another save. But the puck was unsettled and up on edge so Bailey could do little more than hurriedly golf the little black disc high over the net.
Not so long afterwards, Penn State (4-15-1), as it has done seemingly time and time again this term, effectively shot itself in the foot by taking another critical penalty. On this occasion, the culprit was Canadian legionnaire JONATHAN MILLEY (12 ga, 0 go, 2 pts), the monster 22-year-old sophomore (6’4″ 245 lbs) right wing from Gatineau, Quebec, and his boarding offense was subsequently punished by five minutes in the penalty box. Boston College, whose 4.48 goals per game average is essentially two-thirds of a goal per game higher than the nearest rival in all of Division I college hockey, needed exactly 22 seconds to cash in on the power play.
The influential Arnold (25 ga, 8 go, 36 pts), who is now the fifth-highest scorer in all of Division I college hockey, and Eagles second line center PATRICK BROWN (25 ga, 6 go 14 pts), the 21-year-old senior from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, whose father was a long-time National Hockey League performer once upon a time, double-teamed Bailey in a battle for the puck along the boards behind the Nittany Lions net before Boston College’s first line pivot gained control. An inviting pass out into the slot for the lurking Hayes and a quick, first-time blast from the NCAA’s second leading scorer this season rang off the iron and in, again, to put the heavily-favored visitors ahead 3-1. With well more than four minutes remaining on Milley’s boarding major, some might have thought the floodgates were ready to be opened.
But Penn State captain TOMMY OLCZYK, the 23-year-old junior left wing from Long Grove, Illinois, who specializes in penalty-killing, soon got behind the Eagles defense on a shorthanded breakaway and Boston College defenseman TEDDY DOHERTY (13 ga, 2 go, 9 pts, + 7 def rat) had no other choice but to haul down the Nittany Lions skipper. A penalty shot was correctly awarded but Olczyk (20 ga, 4 go, 7 pts), who is among a host of Penn State players tied for second on the team in goal-scoring this term, was agonizingly unsuccessful with his bid to beat the Eagles netminder Demko (10 ga, 2.17 avg, .919 svpct) to the stick side. However, the Nittany Lions’ penalty killers were not to be denied the opportunity to register their fourth goal already this season.
And so center TAYLOR HOLSTROM, the 23-year-old redshirt junior from Yorba Linda, California, led a two-on-one shorthanded rush in the Boston College zone before carefully weighing his options. Using Penn State freshman winger DAVID GOODWIN as a decoy perfectly, Holstrom was able to lift an accurate wrist shot from the right circle over the shoulder of Demko to cut the Nittany Lions’ deficit in half as well as pump new life into the faithful at the Pegula Ice Arena. It was a third goal in as many weeks for Holstrom (20 ga, 4 go, 9 pts), who was, along with Olczyk and redshirt junior defenseman NATE JENSEN, one of only three players in the line-up against the # 2 ranked Eagles who are leftovers from Penn State’s “club hockey” days.
The inexperienced Nittany Lions would get a little overly exciting on yet another shorthanded rush into the Boston College zone at the tail end of Milley’s major for boarding and were assessed a too many men on the ice penalty for a second time in the contest.
The marvelously gifted Gaudreau had a golden opportunity to put the game out of reach for the Eagles after taking a great pass from Hayes but failed to beat the improving McAdam (8 ga, 3.94 avg, .889 svpct) in a one-on-one situation in front with about three and a half minutes to play. Penn State were, ultimately, able to pull its goaltender in exchange for a sixth attacker and give Boston College a tense moment or two at the end. But Demko and the rest of the Eagles defensive corps held firm and were able to bring their trip down from New England to a satisfactory conclusion.
Penn State goaltender EAMON MCADAM (34) stretches out to save the puck at the skates of Boston College right wing AUSTIN CANGELOSI (26) during the NCAA non-conference clash that was watched by the second largest crowd of this 2013/14 season at the Pegula Ice Arena in State College, Pennsylvania.
January 25, 2014
Pegula Ice Arena – State College, Pennsylvania
Attendance : 6,214
BOSTON COLLEGE 3 – PENN STATE 2
07:40 … BC – Hayes (Arnold, Gaudreau)
26:45 … PSU – Scheid (Williamson, Brooks)
36:04 … BC – Gaudreau (Arnold)
44:28 … BC – Hayes (Arnold, Brown) – ppg
46:58 … PSU – Holstrom (Juha) – shg
shots-on-goal : PSU 35 (11 + 13 + 11) – BC 30 (7 + 10 + 13)
penalty minutes : Penn State 13 – Boston College 8
PENN STATE : McAdam – Juha, Williamson ; Koudys, Thompson ; Jensen, Varley – Bailey, Scheid, Milley ; Goodwin, Holstrom, Saar ; Loik, Richard, Brooks ; Olczyk, Gardiner, DeRosa
BOSTON COLLEGE : Demko – MacLeod, Santini ; Savage, Matheson ; McCoshen, Doherty – Gaudreau, Arnold, Hayes ; Smith, Sit, Linell ; Fitzgerald, Brown, Cangelosi ; Calnan, Gilmour, Silk
Boston College Canadian legionnaire MIKE MATHESON (5), the 19-year-old sophomore defenseman from Pointe-Claire, Quebec, who was the first round pick (# 23 overall) of the Florida Panthers at the 2012 NHL Draft and a unanimous Hockey East All-Rookie Team selection last season, shields the puck from Penn State right wing RICKY DEROSA (21), the homegrown freshman from Ashton who has done alright for himself (18 ga, 3 go, 8 pts) at both ends of the rink during his first season of collegiate hockey, during the tightly-contested NCAA non-conference match-up at the jam-packed Pegula Ice Arena in State College, Pennsylvania.