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DiMauro: Not the greatest day in BC sports history, but …



Among the most treacherous pursuits for Boston College sports enthusiasts: adherence to the old bromide about stopping to smell the roses. Sure, the aromas are alluring. But the thorns aren’t far behind, resulting in a bloody nose and the inevitable “why do I keep letting them do this to me?”

Ah, but then came Jan. 27, 2024. A day of titillating bouquet for all of Eagledom. And no thorns anywhere.

It would be inaccurate to suggest this past Saturday was the greatest day in BC sports history. Not even close, actually, what with Flutie to Phelan, David Gordon, taking down No. 1 Carolina to reach the Sweet 16 and five hockey championship nights. But it may have been BC’s most satisfying regular-season day in years. Or ever.

To wit: Men’s hockey completed a weekend sweep of No. 1 Boston University, this time at Agganis Arena, to assume the new No. 1 ranking. That was a few hours after men’s basketball completed the season sweep of Notre Dame, this one in South Bend, the second straight season sweep of the Irish.

There are no two other schools BC loyalists despise more than the aforementioned. BU is a bunch of wannabes and Notre Dame leads the country in sanctimony. Put it this way: I’d risk you all thinking less of me by admitting I always hoped Rudy would blow out a hamstring.

Which is what made Saturday so delicious. 

We start with hockey. The Eagles have been joyous to watch all season, no more than this weekend. My two favorite moments: “Mr. Brightside” Friday night at Conte Forum, a rather epic rendition from the students who have turned hockey games into events this season. Then came Saturday when Cutter Gautier snapped a 2-2 tie in the second period only seconds after the cattle inside Agganis Arena chanted “BU rejects.”

The victory Friday night was perhaps more expected because it came on home ice. But with the Terriers salivating Saturday in their arena, the sweep was oh so sweet. Mad props to BC coach Greg Brown for assembling this roster, especially in an era where it feels more poachers than ever are hovering to grab high end talent.

Basketball hasn’t been as pleasant of a diversion this season, although the two wins over Notre Dame have turned some of the other disappointments into duller aches. BC has won four straight over the Domers and five of the last six. And so while the NCAA Tournament feels remote at the moment, BC will always have Notre Dame, much like Rick and Ilsa always had Paris in “Casablanca.”

Of course, the Eagles still have a chance – there are still 11 ACC regular-season games remaining – beginning with Tuesday’s biggie at home with Syracuse. It’s been a bizarre season to date. Quinten Post, Jayden Zackery and tireless Devin McGlockton have been very good. But 12-8 isn’t better because Donald Hand Jr. and Prince Aligbe, two of the most touted recruits of the Earl Grant era, have been all but silent. Note to Messrs. Hand and Aligbe: It’s time.

The Atlantic Coast Conference isn’t very good. BC has been close a number of times, but has lost home games to North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest, failing to make a play (or a shot) here or there. The Eagles need Aligbe and Hand more than a lung in the final month of the regular season.

And so maybe Saturday was nothing more than a roadside Marriott, a pleasant diversion on the overall road to March. Sure was a nice Marriott, though. The kind of day BC loyalists don’t always get to enjoy. Imagine: Two road wins at your two biggest rivals on the same day. The day came and went with plenty of social media celebration, hope and wonder tied to what’s still possible and no metaphorical nose bleeds.

Who says we can’t have nice things? The Eagles ruined Saturday afternoon in South Bend and Saturday night in the terrain of the Terriers. Here’s to more days like it. 

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



Photo by @bc_mhockey

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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Boston College 5, UMass Amherst 1; No. 1 Eagles Mash No. 11 Minutemen in Leonard’s Return Home



Photo by @bc_mhockey

AMHERST Mass. – For freshman forward Ryan Leonard, the expectation was that he would follow in his brother John’s footsteps and stay close to home to attend local university UMass Amherst. However, after spending two years out of state at the USNTDP in Plymouth, MI. Leonard continued to shine on the big stage, especially in big international competition matchups. “I wanted to play in the Beanpot” Leonard told the Daily Hampshire Gazette in one interview. At this point, it’s clear that BC allows Leonard to play his best in the biggest moments, and on Friday he proved why he wanted to forge his own path.

In front of a packed house at the Mullins Center Friday night, the Eagles (22-5-1) stifled the Minutemen (16-8-3) in the first half of a home-and-home series.

Out of the gates, the Eagles struggled to get things going, Amherst rung the post two times in succession as BC scrambled for lose pucks. However, at 14:58 of the first, sophomore Andre Gasseau dropped a pass to classmate Cutter Gauthier who buried the chance off an Amherst defender for the opening goal.

As the teams skated into the first intermission, Amherst still held most of the chances following the first period.

In the second frame, UMass answered back as forward Lucas Mercuri buried a rebound down low, knotting the score at one apiece.

Nevertheless, Cutter Gauthier answered back slinging a wrister from the right point that caromed past Amherst goaltender Michael Hrabal for Gauthier’s 25th goal of the season.

After a series of penalty kills for either side, the Eagles found themselves on the man advantage when Amherst’s Kenny Connors headed to the box for roughing. On that powerplay, freshman Ryan Leonard demonstrated his lethal shot, firing a snapper past Hrabal doubling BC’s lead.

Minutes later, the USA line would link up once more as freshman Will Smith dished an entry feed to streaking classmate Gabe Perreault who squared one for Leonard, ripping home his second of the game and the fourth for BC.

Down the stretch, freshman goalie Jacob Fowler shut down the Minutemen making several key saves en route to a solid 25-save performance.

The Eagles will be back in action at Kelley Rink for a 1 p.m. start against UMass Amherst on Sunday.

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Boston College 5, Harvard 0; No. 1 Eagles Crush Crimson in Beanpot Revenge Game



Photo by @bc_mhockey

BOSTON, Mass. – Following his draft year when he scored 132 points, it should not be a surprise that freshman Gabe Perreault is leading the Eagles in points. But he’s not just scoring at a steady pace, he’s leading the entire nation in points and speeding by former Eagle greats in the process. With Perreault’s rebound goal and assist in Monday’s game versus Harvard, he tied BC great Chris Kreider’s total from 2012 at 45 points scored in only 27 games. Needless to say, Perreault is going to shatter some records during his career as an Eagle.

With Monday’s win over Harvard (4-15-4), the Eagles (21-5-1) emerged victorious in back-to-back games, maintaining necessary space in the pair-wise rankings.

In a fairly uneventful first frame, other than a notable dive block from junior defenseman Aidan Hreschuk, the teams headed into the dressing rooms knotted at zero.

Midway through the second period, freshman Ryan Leonard fired a shot at Harvard goaltender Derek Mullahy who bobbled the chance leaving the puck sitting on the goal line only for Gabe Perreault to slam home the opening tally.

At the 19-minute mark of the second period, the Eagles broke the game wide open. It started when sophomores Cutter Gauthier and Oskar Jellvik linked up for a gorgeous give-and-go play in the slot leaving Jellvik open to hammer a one-timer into the empty cage for BC’s second of the game.

Seconds later, the USA pressed the Crimson deep into their own zone. On that same play, Gabe Perreault dug a puck out the corner, centering a feed for classmate Ryan Leonard who buried his 16th of the season.

As the teams skated in and out of the second intermission, the Crimson failed to gain control of the puck for longer than a couple of seconds in the third frame.

At 7:34 of the third period, senior defenseman Eamon Powell sped past the Harvard back line and fired a puck far side past Harvard goalie Aku Koskenvuo, who replaced Mullahy in goal for the Crimson.

To build on the theme of incredible goals scored throughout the game, freshman Ryan Leonard lifted a brilliant alley-oop-like pass for a streaking Will Smith who headed in on a breakaway. With one swift head fake, Smith forced Harvard’s goalie out of position tucking a backhander home for BC’s fifth of the game.

Harvard failed to score during Monday’s action giving a shutout to BC goaltender Jan Korec in his first collegiate start, tallying 19 saves on the night.

The Eagles will resume Hockey East action this weekend facing the UMass Minutemen in Amherst Friday at 7 p.m. on the Mullins Center ice.

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