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    BC learned from early-season hockey losses

    Boston MA 11/18/17 Boston College Eagles Aapeli Rasanen watching teammate Jesper Mattila goal get past Northeastern University Terriers goalie Cayden Primeau during first period action at Matthews Arena. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) topic reporter:
    Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff
    BC forward Aapeli Rasanen watches as teammater Jesper Mattila’s shot eludes Northeastern goalie Cayden Primeau in BC’s 4-1 win last Saturday.

    In late October, it was beginning to look like this was going to be a lost season for Boston College. The Eagles were coming off a 6-1 loss to defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Denver, dropping their record to 1-5-1. However, coach Jerry York believed better days were ahead.

    “Our team continues to grow,” York said after the loss on Oct. 28. “I really like that team. Inside the locker room it’s a tight-knit group.”

    While acknowledging that his team wasn’t on the same level as the Pioneers, York said it would be better for the experience. Less than a month later, he appears to have been proven right. The Eagles have won seven in a row, all within Hockey East, to improve to 8-1 in league play and sit alone at the top of the conference standings.

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    York reflected this week on what it was he saw in those first seven games when the team struggled that had him feeling optimistic.

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    “I liked the makeup of the club, the personality,” said York. “I liked that team spirit. I think that’s underrated by a lot of people.

    “They start looking at how good are you, how many All-Americans do you have, how many Hobey Baker winners do you have. You need some of those guys for sure, but the team aspect of the game is critical.”

    There would be no easing into the season, as the Eagles opened with a challenging schedule. In addition to facing Denver, BC lost to No. 9 Wisconsin, tied Quinnipiac, and lost twice at No. 2 St. Cloud State.

    “I think we were good but just had no experience,” said York. “And I think you need experience to have a better team and we gained it pretty quickly with the schedule we played.

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    “At this juncture in my career, I’m not trying to save my job by playing teams you’re going to win, and we’re 5-0. We try to challenge ourselves and I think it’s good for our club.”

    Despite the losses against nonconference opponents, the Eagles stayed focused.

    “The guys were pulling together and trying to get better every day in practice,” said York. “We could show some highlights against some of those teams we were playing early, and say, ‘This is pretty good stuff.’ We just weren’t sustaining it for 60 minutes. We would show flashes.”

    The offense failed to get going early on, scoring just 12 goals in the first seven games. That number was even more dismal when you subtract the four goals registered in the lone win over Providence. But they appear to have turned a corner.

    Christopher Grando, Aapeli Rasanen,and Logan Hutsko are BC’s leading line, combining for 10 goals and 18 assists. They are a combined plus-23 on the season.

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    During the winning streak, goalie Joe Woll has been in net for five of the seven wins, including last Saturday’s 4-1 win at Northeastern. Woll stopped 27 of 28 shots to limit a Huskies squad that had been averaging more than four goals per game to just one score late in the game. It was BC’s fourth win in a row on the road.

    The night before, in a 3-2 win at UNH, Woll made a spectacular save to preserve the win for the Eagles. He recorded 50 saves in the two wins to earn Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week.

    Next up for the Eagles is a Friday afternoon home game against Harvard. Earlier in the season, the Crimson were ranked No. 2 in the country, but have tumbled out of the rankings after dropping four in a row. All four losses came to ranked opponents on the road. With the Eagles ascending to No. 14, Harvard is hoping to buck that trend.

    Interleague action on tap

    There is only one matchup featuring two Hockey East teams this weekend, as Maine will face Providence in the first round of the Friendship Four Friday in Belfast, Northern Ireland. ECAC foes Clarkson and Rensselaer will play in the other game. The second round will be on Saturday. All four games will air on NESN . . . Boston University heads to New York, where the Terriers will face Cornell Saturday night . . . UMass and Quinnipiac have a home-and-home series beginning Friday night when the Minutemen head to Hamden, Conn. . . . On Saturday, UNH is at Yale, Vermont will be at Dartmouth, and RIT will be at UConn for a matinee.

    Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney