Everyone who follows college hockey is aware of the storied rivalry between Boston College and Boston University, but on Friday night at Conte Forum, fans were treated to a showcase between the top-ranked Eagles and No. 7 Notre Dame.
BC and Notre Dame have their own rivalry — known as the Holy War — and that will ratchet up next season when the Fighting Irish join Hockey East.
It was Notre Dame’s first visit to Conte Forum since Nov. 7, 2008, and it was also a rematch of the 2008 national championship game, won by BC.
After a scoreless first period, BC tallied twice in the second (outshooting Notre Dame by a whopping, 12-2), and went on to earn a 3-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 7,884.
Senior goaltender Parker Milner was outstanding, making 19 saves as the Eagles won their seventh straight game and improved to 7-1-0. It was the 920th career victory for BC coach Jerry York, who moved to within four of the Division 1 record set by Ron Mason.
After BC killed off a two-man disadvantage that extended from late in the first to early in the second, the Eagles got on the board on captain Pat Mullane’s fourth goal of the season at 4:41, with the teams skating four a side.
Defenseman Patrick Wey fed Mullane, who raced in on a breakaway and beat junior Steven Summerhays (19 saves) with a backhander.
“I actually got kicked out of that draw, which I was frustrated about,” said Mullane. “I don’t know where the puck went but I know it ended up on Pat Wey’s stick, and I saw that lane and shot out there. It’s not something we drew up, but it seemed to work out.’’
Sophomore left wing Johnny Gaudreau, who had two earlier scoring chances, potted his fifth of the season and first of two on the night at 16:30 during a two-on-one rush. He beat Summerhays from just outside the left post to make it 2-0.
In the opening period, Gaudreau put on a pair of offensive displays. At 10:03, he blew by Irish defenseman Shayne Taker, cutting to the outside. Before attempting a shot. Taker tripped him, giving BC a power play, one of three penalties drawn by Gaudreau.
At 14:46, Gaudreau skated through the left circle, turned defenseman Robbie Russo inside out, but Summerhays made the stop.
In the third, the Irish cut the deficit in half when freshman left wing Thomas DiPauli scored off a rebound at 7:10.
Junior left wing Jeff Costello had an opportunity to pull the Irish even at 12:39 during a power play, but Milner wouldn’t yield.
Milner made several excellent saves down the stretch, including one on Stephen Johns with 3:14 remaining.
Gaudreau sealed it with an empty-net goal with 3.3 seconds remaining.
“From my perspective, a very well-played game. Both sides,’’ said York. “Special teams were outstanding. I thought Parker was right on top of his game and I thought Summerhays made some terrific saves also. One of the key plays of the game was our first goal. The pass to Pat Mullane was right on the button and it got the whole atmosphere electric. Once we got that first one, it just really kind of helped our home team.’’
For Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson, it was a matter of the Irish dropping the ball in the second period.
“They’re a good team, as advertised and as I expected,’’ said Jackson. “The second period was a concern of mine. I thought we did an OK job in the first and third against them. Second periods have been a problem for us this season. I take responsibility for that. I’m going to have a pump-up talk, I guess, as we approach the second period. We slept through the whole period, frankly. You can’t play 40-minute hockey games and beat a team like this.’’