Suddenly a Hero

Clifton Park native Nick Petrecki becomes a hero for the Boston College hockey team
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Nick Petrecki was relieved. The Boston College freshman defenseman and Clifton Park native finally scored his first college goal in his 26th game. It came midway through the second period of Monday’s Beanpot final against Harvard at the TD Banknorth Garden, giving BC a 3-2 lead.

But that goal was just an appetizer.

Petrecki scored again, this time, with a goal that will be remembered for a long time.

Petrecki’s second goal of the game, at 7:07 of sudden-death overtime, lifted the Eagles to a 6-5 victory over the Crimson, giving BC its first Beanpot title since 2004.

“It was a dream come true,” Petrecki said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I’ve been going to the Beanpot tournament since I was 5 or 6 years old. To be able to do that in front of my family and so many friends at the game, and to be able to bring the Beanpot back to campus and get it for our seniors like Mikey Brennan, guys that have been here four years and who don’t have their first Beanpot victory, it’s very special.”

It was even more special for the

18-year-old Petrecki, because he had been struggling offensively.

Last year, Petrecki was the top defenseman for the U.S. Hockey League’s Omaha Lancers after collecting 11 goals and 14 assists in 54 games. A first-round selection of the San Jose Sharks in last year’s NHL draft, Petrecki had just five assists entering the Beanpot final.

“Not going into the game with many points and not any goals, it was obviously very exciting,” Petrecki said. “I really can’t put it into words. It’s just unbelievable.”

Petrecki was in perfect position in overtime to fire the puck past Harvard goalie Kyle Richter.

“There was a shot in front of our net in the defensive zone, and I broke the puck out to Matt Greene,” Petrecki said. “He went up the far wall, and passed the puck to Pat Gannon [on the right wing]. He put a shot on net. I was just following up the play. I came pretty fast. I found myself in the slot following up a play. Luckily, it was just being in the right place at the right time. [The puck was] laying in the slot. I just put it low, short side on the goalie.”

After the puck got past Richter, Petrecki went into a wild celeb­ration. He slid on his backside to center ice, and used his stick as a paddle, as if he was rowing a boat. Had he been rowing a boat, it would have capsized when his teammates jumped on him at the center-ice

faceoff circle.

“I was very excited,” Petrecki said. “I don’t know what was going through my head. I just wanted to get to center ice, and do something crazy. I was just trying to row the canoe there. I got swallowed up by my teammates very quickly.”

While the season has been frustrating for Petrecki because he hadn’t scored a goal prior to Monday, the transition from junior hockey to college hasn’t been difficult for him.

“Coming off my last three years out west and being pretty successful, having a good amount of points last year, I definitely would say that I was prepared,” Petrecki said. “But at the same time, it’s a new league. There’s a lot of skill in this league [Hockey East]. There are a lot of fast kids, and a lot of pace to the game and it’s a short season. You only play about 40 regular-season games, and then you’re right into the playoffs. It’s a real battle every night.”

But now, Petrecki can relax because he finally has his first two college goals, and his confidence is starting to grow.

“At the same time, I have raised expectations for myself,” Petrecki said. “We have eight games left in the regular season. [The Beanpot] was last week. You’re only as good as your next shift. I just don’t want to contribute to what we did last week, I want to continue to make this run at the national championship here and bring a national championship banner back to Boston College.”

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