A Chance Not Taken
Wasted Power Play Costs BC
by Joe Meloni/Senior Writer
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Everything was fine.
Boston College trailed, 3-2. It was third period of a national semifinal. But no one was worried.
There was Johnny Gaudreau. There was Bill Arnold. There was Kevin Hayes.
Those three always have the answers. Even the toughest defenses and the best goalies rarely stump BC's talented trio.
Take away a player and give them 5 minutes to find a find a couple whole, and a goal is almost a certainty.
At 6:49 of the third period, BC received that chance. Union senior Matt Hatch received a game misconduct after a hit from behind on the Eagles' Michael Sit. That one-goal deficit suddenly seemed like a memory.
As the puck dropped, the optics were favorable. There were Gaudreau, Arnold and Hayes with BC captain Patrick Brown grinding away in front and smooth-skating defenseman Mike Matheson commanding it all from the back.
But, as passes sailed around the Union zone, something looked different.
"We were just kind of out of sync there and not everyone's on the same page," Arnold said. "We maybe tried to force stuff too much, and you can't do that against a good penalty kill."
The Eagles, typically so efficient and creative with the puck, looked predictable. Passing lanes rarely opened. When they did, Union sticks quickly filled the gap. BC looked frustrated, beaten.
"They have a good PK, good defensive team," Gaudreau said. "We didn't get enough shots to the net. And we didn't do what were told on the power play. So we needed to get more shots."
The lone quality look on the man advantage came from sophomore defenseman Teddy Doherty, sneaking back door and flipping a puck that Union goaltender Colin Stevens stopped. As the major penalty evaporated, the Eagles were even less efficient. One final Union clear wiped the penalty out, but things quickly grew worse for BC.
Four seconds after major, Union freshman Mike Vecchione followed up a Kevin Sullivan breakaway with a goal on a rebound, extending the advantage to 4-2.
Vecchione's goal may have extended the lead, forcing BC to push even harder now seeking a pair. But that wasted chance on the major stood out.
"I thought at the power play during the 5-minute major, they were just a little bit out of sync with passing the pucks a little too slowly, not quick enough, and then it's easier for the lanes to be blocked," BC coach Jerry York said.
The Eagles eventually found a goal, making it 4-3 with 1:45 left in regulation before an empty-net goal extended the lead to 5-3. The quick-strike Eagle offense is never really out of a game. But every chance to find goals against the Dutchmen must be taken. A 5-minute power play down by a goal in the third period of a national semifinal is even more important.
"I thought there was plenty of time left in the game," York said. "Clearly, there was because we got back to one goal. And really thought we had a chance to tie it up there in the fleeting moments of the hockey game. So the game's never over. Fully understand that."
As time expired, Gaudreau, the likely Hobey Baker winner, drifted back to the BC zone, his head hanging as his teammates slowly exited the bench for one final huddle after a year that ended in disappointment.
Wednesday after, Arnold said it's difficult for BC players to consider seasons successful if they don't end with national championships. The standards in Chestnut Hill are higher than they are anywhere else given the program's recent dominance.
"We're very disappointed, no question on that subject," York said. "I'm very proud of guys who are reaching so high that they want to be that type of team that wins national championships. But it's hard to reflect back now. We're certainly not ready to do that."
At some point in the near future, York and his players will be prepared to look back on the 2013-14 season. Picking out tough moments for BC isn't an easy task this season. Like York said, they aren't ready just yet. When they are, though, 5 minutes from Thursday night are certain to stand out.