BC is game in opener
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - When No. 5-ranked Boston College prepared for the 2011-12 hockey campaign, the Eagles didn’t have any exhibition games, instead they attempted to gain game experience through situational scrimmages.
Last night, they got their first test when they squared off against Michigan State in the opening game of the Ice Breaker Tournament at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
It took a while for both teams to get going but once they did, BC proved the better, earning a 5-2 victory.
The Eagles will take on North Dakota in tonight’s championship game. The Fighting Sioux beat Air Force, 4-3, in the second game last night.
Despite losing a host of scoring talent from last season’s squad, offense wasn’t an issue as the Eagles had five goal scorers and 10 players earning at least a point. Junior goalie Parker Milner, who played behind four-year starter John Muse, looked steady in making 17 saves and the veteran blue liners looked solid.
The newcomers also made contributions up front, particularly freshman right wing Destry Straight, who had an assist and was all over the ice.
“It was our first real opportunity to play a game,’’ said coach Jerry York. “I saw a lot of positive signs, one of which was Parker Milner. He looked very self-assured in the net. I think that’s half the battle sometimes with goaltenders. He made some key saves but his poise has improved and his confidence level has improved. That’s certainly a big plus for our team.’’
York, who already knows he has four top defensemen, said the play of Edwin Shea and Isaac MacLeod enabled him to roll out three sets of blue liners - Tommy Cross and Patch Alber, Brian Dumoulin and Shea, Patrick Wey and MacLeod.
“We have three pairs and we can play all six defensemen and that helps us,’’ York said. “We’re pretty solid on defense. And Tommy Cross being back really helps us.’’
There was no scoring and not much going on in the opening period as BC outshot the Spartans, 4-2.
The Eagles struck first at 4:17 of the second with sophomore center Patrick Brown earning his first collegiate goal. Cross started the play when he fired the puck toward the net from just inside the blue line. It pinballed around before Brown got a stick on it and beat goalie Drew Palmisano (30 saves).
The teams got an unexpected break at the 6:24 mark when a windstorm that featured gusts of up to 60 miles per hour knocked out the building’s power. After an 18-minute delay, the light system booted back up and play resumed.
The Spartans pulled even on a shorthanded goal at 10:32 by senior center Brett Perlini. But the Eagles went back on top at 19:05 on Alber’s tally. Midway through the third, MSU tied it again when Trevor Nill beat Milner to the stick side from the left circle at 10:53.
But the next three belonged to the Eagles. At 11:43, Chris Kreider blew past Spartan blue liner Tim Buttery in the left circle, cut into the middle, and lifted a backhander over Palmisano to make it 3-2. Steven Whitney gave his team its first two-goal lead at 16:27 when he beat Palmisano on a shot from the inside edge of the right circle that sailed into the top left corner of the net.
Barry Almeida closed it out at 18:59 with a rebound of a Paul Carey shot.
Cross, the BC captain, said he was pleased that it all came together for them in the opener.
“We’ve been doing a lot of game situations in practice,’’ said Cross. “We’ve just been telling our guys that we’ve played at game speed and to have confidence in our preparation. We did and we went out there and got into the flow pretty quick.
“The first period was kind of defensive. But after that, some lanes started opening up and guys started holding onto it for the extra second and make their plays. So it was good to see us kind of progress as the game went along. In a sense, it was a good first game to have. We have the five-minute major [in the second], and we had a good amount of power play but then we had the four-on-four because we took a penalty. There were a lot of different situations for us.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.