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Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald helps BC survive another night

03.18.17 at 12:36 am ET
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Boston College hadn’t been able to beat Boston University all season, never having a single lead on the Terriers in their previous three contests. It’s a far cry from what the Eagles usually are able to do against their rival, as they hadn’t been swept in a season series in 15 years.

The Eagles made up for the previous three losses with a victory in the game that mattered most, and kept their season alive with a 3-2 win on Friday night in the Hockey East semifinals. The victory means BC still has a chance to play in the national tournament.

Without winning Hockey East, the Eagles have slim odds of getting to the NCAA tournament. They’ll face the River Hawks of UMass Lowell for the conference crown Saturday night.

The star for BC Friday night against BU was senior forward and Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald. The North Reading native scored twice, including a shorthanded goal in the second period and what proved to be the game-winner early in the third. It was a welcome offensive outburst considering Fitzgerald’s goal production had dropped from 24 last season to nine entering Friday’s game.

“He’s had a good year for us,” BC coach Jerry York said. “Goal production down, but mostly because of crossbars, pipes, not lack of effort. His game’s never suffered because of the goals not coming easy. He’s forechecking well, good coverage defensively, I’m really proud of how he played on the big stage tonight.”

The center found himself involved in a postgame scrum following the final faceoff when he fell on the puck, running the clock down, and a brawl followed, leading to punches between his brother Casey Fitzgerald and BU’s Brandon Hickey.

“A little bit of a broken play and just so happened I ended up on the ice,” said Fitzgerlad. “I just hovered over it and tried to protect it for as long as possible.”

Fitzgerald extended the lead twice following BU chances, burying the Terriers before they had a chance to cut into the deficit. Fitzgerald’s first goal was shorthanded, ending any chance for BU to gain momentum by tying the game on the power play.

Scott Savage, who assisted on the first tally of the game from Julius Mattila, is another senior who got on the board to keep the season alive. Fellow seniors Austin Cangelosi and Chris Calnan also extend their careers for at least one day.

Fitzgerald, who played high school hockey at Malden Catholic, will have another opportunity to keep his collegiate campaign going Saturday night before joining the pro ranks in the Bruins organization. Despite his struggles at times this season, Fitzgerald bounced back when the Eagles needed it most.

“Anytime you can produce for your team it’s good,” said the senior. “Reflecting on the year, for me it’s one of those things where you notice the puck not going in as frequently as it has been, you need to do something else. Playing center now I’ve taken a bigger role in the D zone. If you’re not scoring, you need to do something else.”

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