The Boston College Eagles had surrendered at most three goals in a game all season and not allowed a goal in three straight entering their contest with Michigan State Friday night. Late in the 3rd period it looked like BC goaltender Thatcher Demko and the Eagles were on their way to another defensive victory, when Alex Tuch scored to put the Eagles up 4-1 with 7:47 to play. The Spartans then in the span of just 1:32 roared back with three straight goals to put one of the best teams in all of college hockey on the ropes. Unfortunately, the whirlwind of emotions got to the Spartans late, as Joe Cox took a costly interference penalty on a late face-off and the Eagles scored the game winning goal on the ensuing power play, then adding an empty net goal to bring us to the 6-4 final.
The first period played out pretty terribly for the Spartans, and fortunate for them they had Jake Hildebrand there to save them. The Eagles came out flying at home, outshooting the Spartans 17-6 but were held off the scoreboard in the first period. At 4:30 of the second period the Eagles broke through when they overwhelmed the Spartans below their goal line, forcing a turnover that led to Colin White scoring on a one-time play wide open in front of the net. The Spartans showed resiliency right away when 11 seconds later Mackenzie MacEachern scored a goal of his own off of a Boston College turnover. (Thanks to BC Interruption for the goal gifs and be sure to check out their amazing goal-by-goal analysis here!)
The Eagles defenseman, after a defensive zone face-off tried to send the puck around the net but ended up shooting the puck into the back of the net. MIchael Ferrantino punced on the puck and centered it to MacEachern who was all alone in the slot. MacEachern then beat Demko high on the glove side easily.
The Eagles would head into the third period with a lead when Colin White gathered a long stretch pass in the neutral zone and took advantage of a Jake Hildebrand mistake to score. White was sent out wide by Spartan defenseman Zach Osburn, but Hildebrand lost his angle and played too far to the post, allowing White to beat him with a backhand shot to the far side. That goal is one that Hildebrand allows once out of fifty tries but it was a costly one. The Spartans outshot the Eagles 16-8 in the period but were unable to tie the game. In the third the Eagles would extend their lead on goals by Ryan Fitzgerald and Tuch. Fitzgerald scored just 1:29 into the third when he got past the Spartan defenseman and beat Hildebrand moving laterally across the crease. Tuch's goal was once again after a stretch pass that beat the Spartan defenseman and he beat Hildebrand high glove side on a breakaway.
That is when the fun began for the Michigan State Spartans as they did something to Thatcher Demko that no one has done all season, make him look mortal. It began when off a face-off no one on the Eagles went to challenge JT Stenglein, who took full advantage sending a snipe of a shot above the shoulder of Demko. Stenglein's 6th goal of the season came just thirty seconds after Tuch had put the Eagles up 4-2.
14 seconds later the Spartans made the game a one goal game when freshman Brennan Sanford scored his second career goal, and his second consecutive game with a goal. Sanford broke in on a 2-on-0 with fellow freshman Cody Milan and took a cross ice pass, making no mistake with one-timing the puck past Demko. With the Eagles on their heels 1:28 later the Spartans' freshman class continued to make their presence known, this time with Mason appleton scoring in his second consecutive game. After a point shot by freshman Zach Osburn that went wide of the net, Ferrantino made a no look backhand pass that found Appleton in the slot who beat Demko with a wrist shot. The Spartans had roared back against the 2nd ranked team in the country to tie the game 4-4 in the third period.
The Eagles called a timeout and regrouped for the stretch finish with the Spartans. The Spartans unfortunately made the last mistake, when junior Joe Cox took an interference penalty with under three minutes remaining. On the ensuing power play Miles Wood used traffic in front that was screening Hildebrand to beat the goaltender with a pinpoint placed wrist shot low to the glove side, with just 1:54 remaining in the game. The Spartans surrendered an empty net goal to Fitzgerald and left Massachusetts proud, but having to ask what if?
Tom Anastos comments taken from MSUspartans.com, courtesy of MSU Athletics.
Full Highlights (Courtesy of Boston College Athletics)
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Around the B1G
It was a good weekend around the league, with the Spartans being the only team to lose on Friday night and the league only enduring two losses total. Michigan boat raced winless Niagara in their only game 7-3. Minnesota split with Minnesota State-Mankato 4-0, 2-3. Ohio State swept Canisius 4-1, 6-4. Penn State continued to roll offensively sweeping Sacred Heart 8-2, 3-2.
Next weekend the Spartans, now with the 19th tanked offense in the country, host Michigan Tech in a vital out of conference series. It is a Saturday-Sunday series and if the Spartans can manage a series sweep they may find themselves on the edge of a top ranking.