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Boston College 5, UConn 4; Eagles Show Up Big Time in OT

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Chestnut Hill, MA. — Even someone like Cutter Gauthier can use some puck luck every now and again. That was exactly the case in Friday’s matchup between the #4 ranked Eagles and the UConn Huskies.

The Eagles (7-2-1, 2-1-1) looked to rebound Friday night against the UConn Huskies after their two-game split against the Maine Black Bears last weekend…

After UConn forward Joey Muldowney headed to the box for a roughing minor, the Eagles took full advantage of the early power play. Will Smith grabbed the puck at the top of the point and scanned for options. Eventually dishing it to Ryan Leonard, the puck was off the stick immediately and found the net through a screen to open the scoring.

Just minutes later, Will Vote found himself with fresh legs forechecking hard in the Huskies zone. With one swift stick-lift, Vote dispossessed a Husky defenseman of the puck and fired a pass weak side to a wide-open Drew Fortescue. With plenty of traffic in front of netminder Ethan Haider, Fortescue found a hole, doubling the score.

Following a strong shift from the Eagles, Husky forward Tristan Fraser buried a loose puck at 17:05 of the first cutting the lead to 2-1.

However, the Eagles never backed down as Cutter Gauthier sprinted down the wing and cut toward the slot with options on both sides. With a slick fake drop-pass, Gauthier was able to create time and space opening a passing lane out wide. All it took was a small dish from Gauthier and the puck was off Andre Gasseau’s stick, finding the back of the net in a hurry and regaining the Eagles their two-goal lead heading into the first intermission.

Just a couple minutes into the second period, UConn forward Chase Bradley sniped one from the mid-slot cutting the lead to 3-2, and would find the net again a few minutes later collecting his second of the night and tying the game at 3-3.

Shortly after, UConn defenseman Jake Flynn would collect his first of the season on a wrist shot from the high slot to put the Huskies ahead 4-3 going into the third.

Midway through the third period, the Eagles found themselves on the power play once again as they cycled the puck pass-by-pass. On that same sequence, Jack Malone saw Gabe Perreault in the slot and hit him only for Perreault to make an extra one-touch pass to Gauthier who buried the tying goal off of a crazy billard-like bounce off of a UConn body in front.

After a series of chances and even a Colby Ambrosio lacrosse-style goal attempt, the game remained knotted going into OT.

Late in overtime after a series of posts hit by either side, Oskar Jellvik made a slick head fake and found open ice down low. He dodged Haider’s poke check but failed to bury the winner. However, in an unexpected turn of events, a UConn player mistakenly centered the puck to a waiting Cutter Gauthier who slammed the winner home for the Eagles 5-4.

The Eagles will look to sweep the Huskies in Storrs, CT. on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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Hockey

Boston College 4, Vermont 2; Eagles Persevere Past Catamounts to Finish the Sweep

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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – With Saturday’s two-point performance, freshman forward Will Smith became the nation’s leading point-getter with 51 on the season. In the absence of teammates Eamon Powell and Gabe Perreault who missed their first games of the season, Smith and classmate Ryan Leonard joined sophomore Cutter Gauthier on the first line and did not disappoint. Scoring eight combined points on the night, the trio impacted the game on both sides of the puck, killing several penalties and of course putting the puck in the back of the net.

On Saturday, the Eagles (25-5-1) overcame the Vermont Catamounts (12-15-3), clinching a number-one seed in the NCAA tournament and a top-four spot in the pair-wise rankings.

Similar to Friday’s game, the Eagles headed to the box early as Ryan Leonard was sent to the box for a controversial minor for embellishment. Nevertheless, the Catamounts jumped at the opportunity as forward Chris Theodore buried a cross-crease pass for the opening goal less than one minute in.

About five minutes later on the penalty kill, Cutter Gauthier forced a Vermont turnover at the blue line and slid a pass to Ryan Leonard on a breakaway. With a slick backhand deke, Leonard put Vermont goalie Gabe Carriere on his heels and passed the puck into the empty cage.

As another five minutes elapsed, BC’s first line would capitalize again as Smith and Gauthier would link up to find Leonard sprinting down the right wing. Protecting the puck from the d-man, Leonard drove toward the Catamount cage dodging Gabe Carriere, and lifted a no-look shot into the top corner on the rebound.

The Eagles would take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission but failed to hit the ground running in the second frame.

Despite a thunderous check from sophomore defenseman Lukas Gustafsson on open ice, goaltenders Jacob Fowler of BC and Gabe Carriere of Vermont succeded in killing plays when they needed to.

Following the second intermission, senior forward Gentry Shamburger of BC was called for a delayed penalty as Vermont sent out an extra attacker. Meanwhile, Jens Richards found Ryan Miotto down low and roofed the tying goal far side past Fowler as BC headed to the penalty kill.

On that following penalty kill, Ryan Leonard of BC forced a Vermont turnover in the neutral zone and skated down the left wing only to send a superb saucer pass to Cutter Gauthier who hammered home BC’s second shorthanded goal of the game.

Later on down the stretch as the Catamounts looked to pull Gabe Carriere for the extra attacker, Will Smith put an end to Vermont’s hopes forcing another turnover in the high slot and sniping a shot low blocker for the final goal of the game.

The Eagles return to road action next Friday versus the UNH Wildcats for a 7 p.m. tilt in Durham, NH.

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Hockey

Boston College 7, Vermont 1; Eagles Coast Over Catamounts in Commanding Fashion

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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Cutter Gauthier is ranked as the #1 NHL-affiliated prospect according to Craig Button, a highly respected TSN Hockey analyst. With Gauthier’s multi-goal performance on Friday, he proved exactly why. Also, with those two goals, Gauthier pushed two goals closer to the 30-goal mark, and with roughly ten possible games in hand, he is inches away from a feat that hasn’t been achieved since Johnny Gaudreau’s Hobey Baker winning season in 2014.

The Eagles (24-5-1) catapulted past the Catamounts (12-14-3) in Friday’s game, maintaining their lead in the Hokey East and pair-wise standings.

Following the first puck drop, the Catamounts pressed the Eagles early, but BC did not fold, killing off a series of early penalties.

After a failed man-advantage opportunity of their own, the Eagles maintained possession of the puck with junior forward Mike Posma sliding a point pass to sophomore defenseman Lukas Gustafsson who rocketed his third of the season past Vermont goalie Gabe Carriere.

The teams skated into the first intermission fairly even in terms of chances with BC maintaining the shot advantage, but in the second frame, the Eagles broke the game wide open.

At the 6:38 minute mark of the second period, freshman Ryan Leonard laid out a Vermont player deep in his zone only to sling a stretch pass to classmate Will Smith who dropped one off to classmate Gabe Perreault to feed a brilliant saucer pass to sophomore Cutter Gauthier who buried BC’s second of the game.

Minutes later, BC gained the man advantage again as Smith slid a point pass to Gauthier who sniped his second of the game far side past Carriere.

Only ten seconds later, graduate forward Jack Malone sprinted down the right wing centering a feed to classmate Jacob Bengtsson who buried his first goal and second point of the night. On a similar play at 11:48 of the second, sophomore forward Andre Gasseau capitalized on a broken play putting BC’s fifth of the game past Carriere from the low slot.

For the final tally of the second period, Vermont’s Mario Gasparini deflected a shot by teammate Joel Maatta for the Catamount’s only goal of the game.

Out of the third-period gates, the USA line found the scoresheet once again as Will Smith slid a spectacular spinning feed to Gabe Perreault who tapped in his 50th point of the season, another mark that hasn’t been achieved by an Eagle since the 2013-14 season.

Following a late goal by junior defenseman Aidan Hreschuk from the right half-wall, the Eagles capped off a brilliant performance, where fifteen separate skaters found the scoresheet.

BC Hockey is back in action versus Vermont at Kelley Rink 24 hours after Friday’s puck drop for their penultimate regular season game.

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Hockey

Boston College 6, UMass Amherst 4; Eagles Top Minutemen with Ryan Leonard Hat-trick

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CHESTNUT HILL Mass. – Less than two days after his two-goal performance away at Amherst in front of his hometown crowd. Freshman forward Ryan Leonard one-upped himself Sunday afternoon with a terrific three-goal performance. With this turn of events, Leonard passed the 20-goal mark on the season, adding to his team-high plus-25 status. As an Amherst native, it is safe to say that Leonard left his mark on the Minutemen regardless of who was cheering for him.

As BC (23-5-1) pushed past Amherst (16-9-3) in Sunday afternoon’s action, they extended their win streak to four games and seven against the Minutemen.

Unlike Friday’s action, the Eagles came out firing following first puck drop. After a few seconds of puck cycling freshman Gabe Perreault centered a brilliant feed for classmate Ryan Leonard who fired the opening goal past UMass goalie Michael Hrabal’s far side.

Then, following the majority of the period where BC had most of the possession time and SOGs, the Eagles struck on the man advantage. Senior defenseman Eamon Powell send a pass down low for freshman forward Will Smith to sling a cross-crease pass to classmate Gabe Perreault who chipped in BC’s second goal top-shelf.

Despite a smooth transition in and out of the first intermission, BC failed to beat Hrabal for much of the second frame, and at 8:28 of the period, Amherst’s Kenny Connors slipped one past BC goalie Jacob Fowler’s five-hole for their first of the game.

Minutes later, Aydar Suniev of the Minutemen scored two goals in succession pushing Amherst ahead of BC 3-2.

However, BC answered right back as sophomore defenseman Lukas Gustafsson fired a shot through traffic only to deflect off graduate forward Jamie Armstrong’s stick and past Hrabal for his second of the year.

Still, UMass refused to go away following the second intermission, as Dans Locmelis fired the leading goal past Jacob Fowler making the score 4-3 Amherst.

But, as he’s done multiple times this season, BC’s Ryan Leonard stepped up in the big moments, starting with burying a short-side snipe past Hrabal off the post and in off a Will Smith feed.

Less than a minute later, Leonard received a pass from classmate Will Smith in the low slot who drove hard to the net mouth firing home his hat-trick goal far side past Hrabal, sending the Forum crowd into a frenzy.

After a late empty-net tally from sophomore forward Cutter Gauthier, the Eagles capped off a memorable weekend sweep against UMass Amherst their third in three seasons.

The Eagles are set to continue action versus the Vermont Catamounts 7 p.m. at Kelley Rink this Friday night.

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