WORCESTER, Mass. - Boston College lives to fight another day after college hockey's most lucrative line consisting of Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes combined for all six goals along with seven assists to power past fourth-seeded Denver in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at the DCU Center on Friday night.
Gaudreau's performance stood out in particular, posting historic figures with his first-career hat trick alongside three assists. The Carneys Point, N.J., native's six-point aggregate stands tied as the second-most points ever scored in an NCAA Tournament game.
"I'm just excited to play the game," Gaudreau said. "I didn't want to send Kevin (Hayes) and Billy (Arnold) out of their (Boston College) careers without a good run for this championship, and that's what pushing me. Just trying to improve and get them a national championship."
Hayes logged a pair of goals and as many assists while Arnold accounted for a goal and two assists. Sophomore Michael Matheson contributed two assists in the victory while rookie Scott Savage and goalie Thatcher Demko also helped out one of Gaudreau's three tallies.
The Eagles limited Denver to only three shots in the first frame, outshooting the Pioneers by 13 shots. Saturday's total settled with BC holding a 33-20 advantage. DU backstopper Sam Brittain played the first 40 minutes and gave up six goals on 20 shots. Evan Crowley relieved the senior and stopped all seven shots. Demko picked up his 15th win of the season with 18 stops on.
Boston College's penalty-killing unit rose to the occasion again and stopped all five Pioneers power plays. The Eagles went 0-for-2.
Before fans could get settled into their seats, Gaudreau drew first blood on a great feed from Hayes off the near boards.
Arnold won the game's opening draw and got the puck low into Denver's zone. Hayes chased after the puck and connected with Gaudreau on the near post with a perfect backhand pass through traffic. Gaudreau corralled it quickly and slipped it underneath Brittain 25 seconds in for the early 1-0 lead.
Hayes built upon BC's early momentum and took matters into his own hands at the 5:30 mark. Gaudreau hurled the puck into Denver's corner from the neutral zone and Arnold raced into the scrum to dig it out. Hayes swooped in and ran the puck back up to the blue line and took on a pair of Pioneers guarding the slot. Hayes split the defense, deked Brittain with the backhander and gave Boston College the two-goal edge.
Gaudreau's second of the game at 9:34 of the first period was another highlight-reel tally.
The third-year winger positioned himself perfectly on Denver's blue line to accept the outlet pass from Matheson. With a Pioneer on his heels, Gaudreau cheated towards the left side of Denver's net, but decided to wheel it around and tuck it past Brittain who had not been able to shift over in time for the 3-0 lead.
The top line returned with a vengeance in the second frame, accounting for all three Eagles' goals as well.
At 5:29 of the second, Gaudreau skated the puck behind Brittain in the far corner and zeroed in on his two linemates in between the circles. Gaudreau dangled around his defenseman and sent the disc through the crease. Arnold got a piece of the puck, but it jutted out to Hayes alone on the near post. Brittain was still guarding Gaudreau's chance and Hayes tossed it to the back of the net with ease for the 4-0 lead.
Gaudreau capped his first-career hat trick with a marker that was converted from behind the net.
Matheson carried out the heavy lifting and carved the puck through the neutral zone to release a good scoring chance on Brittain. The puck squirted behind the net where Gaudreau lurked. With Brittain still on the ice, Gaudreau ricocheted his shot off the blade of Brittain's skate at 8:13 for the Eagles' fifth goal of the game.
After helping out on a pair, Arnold found the back of the net with about five minutes to go in the second stanza. Hayes and Gaudreau worked together to create the scoring chance as Hayes drew his defender in the slot and then deferred to Arnold for the one-timer blast at 15:35 for the 6-0 buffer.
Denver got one back with 52 seconds left after a scrum ensued in front of Demko. BC's goaltender was distracted by the fracas and Trevor Moore managed to sneak one to the back of the net to bust up Demko's shutout at 19:08.
Denver's Evan Jansen added the Pioneers second goal late in the third at 19:47.
The Eagles await the winner of the second-seeded UMass Lowell and third-seeded Minnesota State game for a chance to skate in their 24th Frozen Four. Tomorrow's game will be broadcast live on ESPNU at 5 p.m.