As much as the NHL replay system slows the game down and has created so much controversy, the Boston College Eagles are left wishing it were in place. In Quinnipiac’s 3-2 triumph last night over Boston College in the Frozen Four semifinals, their defense dumped the puck into the Boston College zone while their forwards were left retreating for the blue line. However, as the commentators quickly pointed out, those players never cleared the zone and, eventually, a poor BC turnover in their own end led Quinnipiac’s Kevin McKernan to score and give Quinnipiac the early lead.
However, this play did not doom BC’s chances of winning this game. Their lethargic play in their own end, where Quinnipiac’s aggressive style forced their defensemen into uncharacteristic turnovers, proved insurmountable as the Bobcats earned the right to play North Dakota on Saturday for their first national championship.
While Boston College’s Ryan Fitzgerald and Alex Tuch were able to come through and provide the veteran leadership and offensive scoring necessary for the Eagles to win, the Bobcats proved to be too relentless for the Eagles’ defense to handle.
“They just came out faster than us,” senior captain Teddy Doherty said to David Hendrickson of USCHO. “There’s no other way to explain it. Two goals in the first 10 minutes — unacceptable. And [it] ultimately cost the game. There’s no other rhyme or reason about it.”
BC clearly needed to be ready to play in the face of a hungry Quinnipiac team. This uncharacteristic performance will allow the team to dwell on their mistakes here and be better prepared for next season.
Boston College will return to Conte Forum next year looking to duplicate their success, and go farther, than they did this year.
With a lineup of eight freshmen and sophomores who will all most likely return next year, BC will certainly be in contention for a Hockey East championship. They only lose senior captain Doherty, defenseman Travis Jeke, and forwards Peter McMullen and Brendan Silk.
The big question looming for the Eagles will be the fate of their goaltender. Thatcher Demko, who maintained that prior to the NCAA tournament he has not talked to the Vancouver Canucks, may be tempted to talk to the team that drafted him back in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
If BC loses Demko, they will be faced with two issues: replacing a stalwart in net who has started nearly every game since his arrival, and placing a suddenly-exposed defensive corps in front of an inexperienced starter.
In 2016, BC can expect the arrival of four forwards (notably David Cotton and Michael Booth), and four defenseman (including Jesper Mattila from Finland).
BC will also look forward to Joseph Woll, a goaltender from the United States National Team Development Program who recorded a 1.67 goals-against average and .935 save percentage this past year.
The Eagles seem prepared incase Demko does forego his last year of eligibility in pursuit of an NHL career, but head coach Jerry York would prefer the veteran to return for one more shot at a national title.
Beyond Demko, BC will return leading scorers Ryan Fitzgerald, Colin White, Zach Sanford, Austin Cangelosi and Miles Wood. Casey Fitzgerald, Steve Santini and Scott Savage will also return to inspire a young group of defensemen.
More than anything else, this loss may actually further the development of the Boston College Eagles. They were one of the youngest teams in college hockey this year and this taste of competition for the national title will allow them to elevate their game in preparation for next season.
BC will definitely be back in contention next year, hoping that this loss in Tampa is the prelude to so much more future success.