Saturday, February 28, 2015

Very Encouraging

Before you check into the hospital because you can't believe the BC Hockey Blog isn't going bananas over a loss, let me just say that this was arguably the best game BC has played all season yet they just ran into one of the best goaltending performances I've seen in a long time. If you ask people that know me, I'm sure they'll tell you that I probably get more upset than the players and coaches do about a loss (I mean, you see what I write). Bottom line is that I never, ever, take any positives out of seeing another team walk off the ice with more goals than the maroon and gold. Well, that all changed tonight. BC played it's fastest game of the year, they generated 56 (!!) shots, and defended as good, if not better, than they did yesterday. So, why did they lose? Cal Peterson turned in a goaltending clinic for the ages while Thatcher Demko is probably wishing he had all three of those goals back because all of them were very fluky. Watching that game tonight, I felt comfortable with the way they were rolling all four lines because each one seemed to have a scoring chance every time they were out there and that certainly hasn't happened all year. I thought the line of Mike Sit, Chris Calnan, and Quinn Smith was absolutely tremendous all weekend so hopefully they can parlay that into some strong play two weeks from now. The other reason BC fans shouldn't be too down about tonight's events is because they had very little effect on the Eagles' NCAA tournament chances. Sure BU won the Hockey East regular season title, congrats to them that is all great but at BC, we don't play for regular season titles or Hockey East titles, we want a National Title. This is the FIRST TIME all year I have walked out of a rink thinking this BC team could actually stand a chance to win the whole thing because if they play the way did tonight in the NCAA tournament, then it's two straight National Titles for the Eagles (next year has already been rewarded).

It is quiet clear to me that no player in the entire league could use these two weeks off more so than Thatcher Demko. Simply put it, he looks flat out exhausted. He makes that save on their second goal 10 times out of 10 when he is at full strength but today he certainly was not anywhere near that level. Even some shots that didn't go in, they were kind of slipping by him and you could just tell he was just a bit off although he made some great saves in the third period to keep it at a one goal difference. Don't get me wrong, the kid played fine but he's exhausted and needs these two weeks to gear up for a big run. Admittedly, much was made after the first UConn game about BC's new commitment to size instead of speed. Well, I was flat out wrong. Tuch, Gilmour, and Sanford have developed into three of the top 10 forwards in this league over the course of the past couple months which is a testament to the staff's always strong development model. It's easy when you have kids like Eichel, Tuch, or Hanifin, guys that are already on such a higher level talent wise than anyone else but it can be tough when you have guys like Sanford or Gilmour who are right there, ready to take that next step but they just need some proper development. That is what they have gotten in their first year at BC. Throw in a certain three headed monster next fall and.....well you know how I feel about next year.

Now, let's look at where BC stands in the Hockey East playoffs. The Eagles clinched the #3 seed thanks to Providences' cupcake scheduling. I mean, they get to finish with UMass and Maine while we get Lowell and Notre Dame? You know that BC, BU, ND, PC, and either UML/UNH/NU are going to be in the mix every year so why not have Providence play a contender instead of a cupcake? That stuff drives me nuts. These will be your 5-12 matchups next week. I think all the higher seeds will win relatively easily which means that BC would host the biggest non BU series ever when Northeastern comes to town. Revenge.

5 Notre Dame vs 12 UMass, 6 Northeastern vs 11 Merrimack, 7 UVM vs 10 Maine, 8 UNH vs 9 UConn.

While the bye week is nice for rest, it's possibly the biggest week of recruiting for the staff. Even though the Eagles won't play next weekend, Coach Brown and Coach Ayers will probably be all over the map with the prep playoffs and USHL/NTDP seasons winding down.









Hello



Despite the entire college hockey media base practically bowing to the guys down the street, despite a hoard of injuries affecting their depth on defense and offense, and despite this being one of the more trying seasons in recent history (I know, it's stunning), Boston College defeated Notre Dame tonight to move within a win and a BU loss of sharing a Hockey East regular season title. Perhaps more importantly, the Eagles remain at 9th in the pairwise and clinched a first round bye in the Hockey East playoffs which begin next weekend with the 5-12 matchups. I'd have to sit down and think about it for a few minutes but I don't think I'm out of line (I know I am a lot) in saying this was BC's best game of the season, I mean, they played absolutely tremendous, especially in their own end. Their star studded defense, led by Noah Hanifin and Ian McCoshen, shut down Notre Dame's top trio of Hinostroza, Lucia, and Bjork. Think about how tough this season has been at times and how often it seems like the media is making BU to be the greatest thing since sliced bread and then do yourself a favor and look at the pairwise and Hockey East standings. It's their most talented team in 6 years and it's our least talented team in 6 years and yet we have a chance to overtake them in the national and league standings on the final day of the regular season..........Don't even get me started about next year.

I thought BC came out and played a tremendous first period, something they have yet to do in the past couple of weeks. One would think that the crowd and circumstances would intimidate a young BC squad but they came out and got pucks to the net, played pristine defense, and scored the all important first goal when McCoshen fired home an Austin Cangelosi pass for his 6th point in 4 games. The staff obviously did their homework because they figured that they could matchup the Calnan line (which was very good) with either Notre Dame's first or second line literally every shift. Notre Dame's top line is as fast and skilled as any in Hockey East but Calnan, Sit, and Smith didn't give them anything tonight. They stayed disciplined in their own end, got pucks deep, attacked ND's young D, and blocked a ton of shots. It's not everyday that blocked shots stick out in my mind after a game but I can remember at least one occasion when Calnan, in the midst of a long shift, laid out his body in order to prevent an Irish scoring chance. Without a doubt his best game of the month. The maroon and gold continued to carry the play after a couple penalties and were rewarded when rising freshman Alex Tuch pounced on his own rebound to give BC a 2-0 lead with three minutes to go in the opening stanza. If Tuch stays hot like this in the playoffs and can continue to put up a point per game, I have little doubt that this team is going to surprise a lot of people.

To be honest, I was very worried about the second period because you never know what can happen especially after what took place against Harvard. Despite blogger's doubts, the guys came out and once again implemented a full out assault on Notre Dame freshman goalie Cal Peterson who played very well in the loss. Unlike in the first period, BC was rewarded two power plays and even though they had some nice setups, they got nothing. The most notable opportunity was when Tuch came crashing down from the blue line looking for a one timer but a Notre Dame' defenseman's stick got in the way, denying a sure goal. Despite the 0 for 3 mark, I like the way both units are moving the puck around although I still think they should just have McCoshen wind up and pound it from the point. In the end, BC held up great in their own end throughout the period and surrendered just 11 shots (mostly from the outside) to Notre Dame.

The third period was just another example as to why Thatcher Demko is the most valuable player in college hockey, outside of Jack Eichel. I absolutely love the toughness this kid shows. I mean, the kid has been walking around campus like he's just been shot in the leg for the past five months but he continues to bring his A game when this team needs it. I'm sure he would be the first to tell you that having guys like Santini and Matheson bring their games up another notch doesn't hurt either. Actually, there was a little scare in the second period when Santini came to the bench clutching his shoulder but after a brief session with trainer Bert Lenz, he returned to the ice and looked great. Hanifin and McCoshen get the accolades but I thought Matheson played much, much better tonight. Three solid games in a row for him. Lastly, I can't talk about the win unless I mentioned Coach Ayers' penalty kill, what a group of warriors they were tonight. It's no secret that I was losing my mind over the PK unit last month but whatever he's done, it's worked. Against Northeastern in the Beanpot it was just sit around and wait for an opponent to shoot the puck, and hope for a block or a deflection. Now, it's constant pressure at the points which worked very well vs a "point" oriented team in Notre Dame. Lots of credit to Coach Ayers in that department.

In the end, great 60 minute effort from the Eagles tonight, perhaps their most "complete" game since the raid on Agganis. Speaking of our good friends from down the street, congratulations to Northeastern on picking up a terrific 6-5 victory on Jack Parker's statue unveiling night. If the Huskies and BC win tomorrow, the Eagles and BU will tie for the Hockey East regular season which is just astonishing considering that the college hockey media (including BC's own blogger) had totally forgotten about the maroon and gold.

Why BC Won- 

1. Demko is not bad at all.

2. Penalty kill looks really, really solid right now. Fast, aggressive, blocking shots, no blown coverages, great goaltending.

3. All four lines were terrific but particularly the third line of Sit, Calnan, and Smith.

4. Hanifin and McCoshen play the entire game it seems.

Negatives- 

I got zip. Arena is so nice, I'll have more on that tomorrow. We need something like this.

Player of the game- Thatcher Demko

Next- Notre Dame tomorrow @ 6:05









Thursday, February 26, 2015

Notre Dame Preview


Fresh off a season salvaging win vs Harvard on Monday night, BC will hit the road to take on their catholic school rivals from South Bend where they will be seeking revenge after last year's Hockey East playoff loss. While the win vs Harvard was monumental for BC's pairwise standing, a win or two this weekend would all but assure a first round bye in the Hockey East playoffs and more importantly, a spot in the NCAA tournament. However, it won't be easy as the Eagles will be a facing a Notre Dame team that took three of four points @ Boston University last weekend and two from Providence the weekend before. No matter what the national rankings say, Notre Dame is a terrific hockey club that has really played well as of late. Not only did they beat PC and BU, but they took 3 of 4 points from Maine in Orono earlier this month. Of course, while BC and ND don't have the history that BC and BU have, there is no doubt that the Irish are coming on as one of the Eagles' most heated rivals, especially after the shenanigans they pulled in our rink last year. Sure, they won the series fair and square but the amount of times they tried to mix in a last second change even though we had last change was pathetic. Put it simply, these two teams can't stand each other and this weekend will be an absolute war.

Whether you like Notre Dame or not (I can't stand them) you can't deny that Jeff Jackson has done a terrific job with their hockey program. If you go back 20 years, ND was non-existent, they were absolutely terrible but ever since Jackson took over, they have won a ton of crucial recruiting battles and really elevated their program. Despite all their recent success, ND has kind of struggled this year after losing top scorers Bryan Rust, Jeff Costello, and TJ Tynan along with defensemen Stephen Johns and Shayne Taker. However, they boast one of the top units in all of college hockey with Vincent Hinostroza, Mario Lucia, Robbie Russo, Thomas DiPauli, and Sam Herr. Russo is arguably the best defensemen in the game while the line of Lucia-Hinostroza-Anders Bjork (Bruins draft pick) has been lighting the world on fire as of late. We all know how Notre Dame is going to play tomorrow. They somehow get these 5 star recruits to come in and play a trap the entire game, in fact, if you ask me, it's exactly how the game of hockey shouldn't be played. It's no fun to watch and it's really annoying when they win because it makes it seem like that system works although they have never won a National Title (what happened in 08?). Of course, the Irish have given BC all types of fits over the years, including the last time they played in this venue in 2012 when BC outplayed ND the whole game but fell victim to a last second buzzer beater in overtime. That was awful.

When I look at this Fighting Irish squad, I see two distinct weaknesses, goaltending and depth on the blue line. Sure, freshman goalie Cal Peterson played tremendous last weekend vs the Terriers but he doesn't have a great save percentage (91) nor a great GAA (2.46). I think if BC is able to get bodies to the net, along with getting puck after puck to the front of the cage, then they have a great chance to win this game. Look at the tying goal on Monday, we kept trying to make the pretty play to try and even the score but it was a scrappy play by a fourth liner that did the job. Pucks and bodies to the net. The second hole in their game is their lack of defensive depth. Yes, Russo is certainly of the best in the game but other than him, they don't have anyone that jumps out at you. Jordan Gross and Luke Ripley are both freshmen while sophomore Justin Wade didn't play at all last season. Let's see if BC can get puck deep, be physical, and ware these guys down. I'm not sold on their defense and goaltending.

Scouting Notre Dame- 

Record- 14-15-5 (32nd in PWR)

Leading scorers- Vincent Hinostroza (8-28-36), Mario Lucia (19-7-26), Robbie Russo (12-18-30)

Team offense- 2.94 goals scored per game (20th)

Team defense- 2.74 goals allowed per game (37th....wow)

Power play- 15% (38th...still very dangerous)

Penalty kill- 83% (28th)

Shots on goal per game- 27.5 (43rd)

Keys for BC- 

1. McCoshen and Hanifin out there every time against Hinostroza and Lucia. Whoever wins this matchup will win the game. Our best guys vs their best guys. Noah and Ian were great vs Vesey.

2. Watch out for their fourth line. Notre Dame has a couple of highly skilled NHL draft picks on their bottom line in Austin Wuthrich and Steven Fogarty. Maybe match Fitz up vs them, 3rd line vs DiPauli and Herr.

3. Just stay out of the box. The amount of penalties this team takes in comparison to years past is absurd.

Notes- I'll tweet something out if Silk or Linell play but I don't expect it.

Off to South Bend in the morning, Go Eagles !




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Recruit Update

I feel like I haven't done one of these in a year so let's take a look at how BC's recruits are performing so far this season.

15-16 class- 

Miles Wood- After serving a suspension two weeks ago for a hit to the head against Thayer Academy, Wood has since returned and recorded 13 points in 4 games. That includes a 4 goal outburst against BBN and a game winning goal with just under two minutes left vs rival Belmont Hill. He now has 31 points in 15 games, giving him 2.07 goals per game.

Jeremy Bracco- Currently second on the NTDP U18 squad with 63 points in 45 games, which averages out to 1.45 points per game. He leads the team with 41 assists and 4 game winning goals.

Colin White- After missing a good amount of time due to injury, the Hanover native has bounced back with 33 points in 34 games, good for 0.97 goals per game. He is tied with Auston Matthews in power play goals (4).

Chris Brown- Coach Brown's nephew was traded from the Green Bay Gamblers to the Tri-City storm this week but in 43 games with GB, he recorded a team high 13 goals and 19 assists.

JD Dudek- In his first year outside of prep school, Dudek seems to be having a bit of a tough time adjusting to playing against bigger/faster kids as he has recorded just 12 points in 40 games.

Casey Fitzgerald- In 37 games with the NTDP, he has recorded 6 goals and 11 assists but somehow has a whopping 53 penalty minutes which is kind of surprising given his style of play.

Josh Couturier- The former Northeastern recruit has put up some great numbers with the Boston Jr Bruins this season, recording 15 goals and 19 assists in 46 games played.

Notes- I think the staff is going to add certainly one, maybe two, more forwards who will probably just provide depth unless they pull off a stunner and get Tkachuk (50% chance) or Matthews (5% chance). As we get closer to the draft, it will be interesting to see what they do with the D situation as I think there is a realistic chance that Hanifin, McCoshen, and Matheson are all gone.

16-17-

David Cotton- The Cushing product is having a breakout season as he is leading all of New England prep hockey with 64 points on the season. Certainly a good sign for the staff.

Graham McPhee- 4 goals and 10 assists in 34 games played.

Zachary Walker- Just returned from a bad leg injury two weeks ago so not much to report.

Luke McInnis- The son of BC's volunteer assistant coach has recorded 10 goals and 23 assists for Dan Donato's Dexter squad. Those numbers land him at 3rd in defensemen scoring in prep hockey.

Connor Moore- the Georgia native and Brooks product is having a solid season with 4 goals and 16 assists for a Brooks team that is looking to make the small school playoffs.

Monte Graham- I don't think he will end up coming in 2016 as they'll probably have him do a year of Jr's but he has had a solid season for Tony's Tigers, recording 29 points in 26 games.

Mike Campoli- 4 assists in 44 games for the U17 team.








Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sneaky Huge Win


Photo from The Heights
Thanks to an overtime tally from sophomore Ryan Fitzgerald, the Boston College Eagles solidified their NCAA tournament position with a huge 3-2 win over Harvard in the 3rd place game of the Beanpot. The amount of times that I have been asked why I was jacked up about a consolation victory today is mind-blowing but if you follow closely, you'd know that this win pushes BC to the brink of clinching a 6th straight tournament berth. Basically, the Eagles currently sit at 9th in the pairwise but a loss would have dropped them down to 16th, meaning they would probably have to sweep a red hot Notre Dame squad this weekend on the road. However, thanks the a terrific third period and some heroics from Fitzy, the maroon and gold are one win in South Bend and a home ice series win in the Hockey East playoffs away from clinching an NCAA tournament berth.

In front of perhaps 400 people, the game got underway and the first period was mostly controlled by Harvard but it was the Eagles who recorded a power play goal in their 5th straight game to take the 1-0 lead after a period. Much has been made about BC's lack of a "go to" guy this year but I think Alex Tuch is slowly turning into one of the top forwards in the league, in my opinion he is the third best behind Eichel and Roy. Not only is he super skilled but he does all the little things right such as knowing where to be when they're cycling and finding open lanes on the power play. BC has been looking for that line of him, Gilmour, and Sanford to pick it up a little bit and without a doubt, they were better than Harvard's top unit of Vesey, Criscuolo, and Kerfoot, one of the more vaunted lines in the country. However, outside of the power play goal, BC's first period was shaky and we were probably lucky to get out of it with a lead because a lot of our shots were from the perimeter while a lot of their shots were taken in good scoring areas.

The second stanza could very well have been worst of the season, mainly because the Eagles got back to taking stupid penalties. Interestingly enough, we had a chance to make it a 2 goal game early on when we were rewarded with a 5 on 3 for over a minute but we couldn't do anything. The long kill gave a Harvard a big boost and they finally tied the game up when Alexander Kerfoot made a couple nice moves at the blue line and fired a wrister past a screened Demko. Two things stood out about that goal. Number one, BC got caught on a long change and couldn't take the fourth line off so Donato made the smart move and threw on his top guys and as well as our fourth line played, they're no match for their big three. BC had a couple of chances to just chip the puck up the boards and get a change but credit Harvard for keeping it in and getting guys to the net. Less than two minutes after Kerfoot's tally, Buffalo draft pick Sean Malone gave the Crimson their first lead of the night on the power play. No one can say that BC's penalty kill was bad because they were 6 of 7 on the night and that included a long 5 on 3 but I think they may have been caught just a tad out of position on that goal. Coach York made a great point after the game when he said that it is tough when your top guys have to be your penalty killers because that wears them down offensively and that was clearly evident by BC's two shots in the second period. In all honesty, Harvard should have had a three goal lead through two but a clearly banged up Demko (he was run over twice, neither called) once again saved the day. It's great having the best goaltender in the country but when he has to  face five power plays in one period, you know there are going to be some errors. It's not fair for him that his teammates are in the box so much and to be frank, I can't recall any of them being "bad" calls, they were just stupid penalties.

I'm obviously not in the locker room but if I had to guess Coach York went in there after 40 minutes and fired everybody up by telling them that they had to win this game or their tournament hopes were pretty much history because boy did they come out with some bounce in their step. They looked like a totally different hockey team in the third period. They were the faster, stronger, and more physical team all throughout the final twenty minutes but they couldn't answer the bell until Matthew Gaudreau fired home a rebound with just under 12 minutes to play. Everyone, including me, talks about BC's lack of depth but their fourth line consist of two guys that are both really good skaters and aren't without any skill. Teddy Doherty added an assist and played well but I still think they want him back at defense to recreate the pairings they had in January. BC was given a golden opportunity with 5 minutes to go when Harvard forward Seb Lloyd was whistled for charging but they couldn't do anything with it. Outside of our power play goal, I was very impressed with the Crimson's penalty kill which was fast, aggressive, and got great goaltending all night long.

About 1:16 into overtime, just 8 second after Harvard had iced the puck and called a timeout, the staff made an intelligent move by throwing the second line out there against Harvard's top guys, a matchup that, for whatever reason, really threw Vesey and company off all night. The maneuver proved fruitful when Fitz fired home his own rebound to give BC their biggest victory of the season. Like I said, it was a huge win but evident by Coach York's postgame comments, they clearly aren't where they want to be. He has been around long enough to know that goaltending and defense can only win you trophies if you get at least some 5 on 5 scoring. He also touched upon the penalty situation which he seems astounded by the fact that we're in late February and we're still taking a ton of penalties. All in all, great win but it needs to be a lot better.

Why BC won- 

1. Tuch has evolved into a real threat. Sanford is no slouch himself.

2. Penalty kill. If Harvard makes it a two goal game after two, there is no way we're coming back. It would have sucked the wind right out of our sails. Couple of solid games for Coach Ayers' crew.

3. Demko was tremendous. I think they should give him the next two days off in preparation for Notre Dame. The kid must be exhausted and extremely bruised up as he was hit hard a couple times last night.

Negatives- 

1. The second period could have been the worst of the year. One stat tells the story....Harvard 15 shots, BC 2.

2. If they keep giving good teams a large amount of power plays, they're going nowhere in the postseason.

Players of game- Bunch of guys to choose from but I'll go with Fitz because that was a big strike.

Next- @ Notre Dame Friday and Saturday. Huge.

Also congrats to Coach Quinn and Boston University on their championship. That game was college hockey at it's very highest level and hopefully we can come back next year and bring the Pot back home.











Sunday, February 22, 2015

Harvard Preview


For the first time in six years, Boston College will take part in the consolation game of the Beanpot championship game where it will face a Harvard team that beat them 6-3 @ Kelley Rink in November. I know I say this a lot, particularly when it's BU, but I'm not kidding when I say tomorrow is the biggest game of the season for the Eagles. A win and their this close to "clinching" and NCAA tournament berth. A loss and they drop from 9th to 14th in the pairwise. Coach York would be the first to tell you that while the Beanpot means a lot to fans and alums, the goal each season, no matter how good or how bad we are, it to go out and win a National Championship. If we can find a way to take one home tomorrow, then we are in a great position to possibly make a run at the Frozen Four.

Ever since that first meeting, Harvard has been up and down. They possess one of the most talented lines in the country in Jimmy Vesey, Kyle Criscuolo, and Alexander Kerfoot but they will be without their top defenseman, Patrick McNally who was injured a little over a month ago and is out for the remainder of the regular season. Ted Donato's squad is coming off a long road trip to North Country in which they lost to St Lawrence on Friday but defeated Clarkson on Saturday. Interestingly enough, despite all their offensive horsepower, the Crimson were outshot by the Knights and Saints by a combined 67-47 margin, along with surrendering 5 goals to an underrated SLU team on Friday night. As big as the game is for BC, it's just as important for the Crimson who currently sit squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble at 16th (would be last team out due to Atlantic Hockey auto-bid).

As you can see, the might be the biggest consolation game in the history of the tournament, especially considering BC and BU have never played. Not only is it big for playoff implications but beating Harvard means a lot to the fan base, especially those who played in the 50's and 60's. I remember my grandfather would always talk about how he cared more about beating the Crimson than the Terriers (I still pray he was kidding) but that's just one example showing how much this rivalry means to people in this program. Of course, no one likes losing but when it comes to Harvard, it ramps things up a notch, not to mention the fact that they embarrassed us in our own barn just a few months ago. No matter how you draw it up, tomorrow is an absolute must win for this team, there's just no other way around it, they have to find a way to come back with a W. Sure, it isn't the setting that we want to be in as a program but we all know that we'll be back next year holding that trophy up but if we can find a way to sneak into the dance and make some noise, then it will go to show jut how hard these kids and these coaches have worked this season. We all know it has been a tough go at times but perhaps none was worse than seeing the Crimson walk off our own ice after scoring 6 goals on our star studded defense. Tomorrow is about revenge, it's about trying to cement a spot in the NCAA tournament, and most of all, it's about winning one for the hockey alums that can't bare to see the maroon and gold lose to their rivals from Cambridge.

Scouting Harvard- 

Record- 13-9-3 (16th in PWR)

Leading scorers- Jimmy Vesey (20-20-40), Kyle Criscuolo (14-19-33), Tyler Moy (8-14-22)

Team offense- 3.31 goals scored per game (10th)

Team defense- 2.47 goals allowed per game (29th)

Power play- 21% (12th).....probably see that out there 15 times thanks to the refs.

Penalty kill- 88% (7th)

Shots on goal per game- 30.62 (27th)

Penalty minutes per game- 9.31 (50th)......probably see that number go way down tomorrow.

Keys for BC- 

1. I think they need to start Demko. I know he is probably tired and hurting but this really is the definition of a must win. I originally thought they would give the nod to Billett but this game is to big for a backup. It is a MUST win.

2. Fitzgerald needs to get going. It can't be a three man show every single night up front. He has got to get involved.

3. Be smart with the last change. If our third line gets caught vs Vesey, it is going to be a long night.

Note- Coach York has never come in last in the Beanpot. Parker came in last 3 times.

Go Eagles ! Go Huskies !




Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tough Tie

In what was a tale of two totally different games, Boston College and UMass Lowell settled for a 2-2 tie on Friday night @ Conte Forum, dropping the Eagles down to 12th in the pairwise. I thought it was the type of game in which both teams had a bunch of good spurts and a couple portions where they got vastly outplayed. In BC's case, it was a combination of bad penalty calls, a lack of focus for a few seconds, and some tremendous goaltending from Kevin Boyle that led to the disappointing result. Obviously, I can talk about a couple of mistakes BC made, especially in the early part of the game, but last night should be the final straw with the officiating because it is astonishing how bad it was. Just off the top of my head, I could name five awful missed calls on Lowell but for some reason, they whistled every one of our infractions. Over the course of the past five games, BC has had 12 power plays while their opponents have had 25 (!!!!!). Blaming the officials is something Coach York would never do but it is quiet obvious that this has gone on long enough and BC needs to start talking with the league.

I thought the first period was relatively even but they totally outplayed us in the second in terms of possession, shots (10-9), and made sure that all of our scoring chances came from the outside. In fact, BC's two goals were results of shots from the point so give credit to Lowell for playing so well around their net. I don't think I can remember a season in which opponents' goalies have played their best games of the season vs the Eagles. After a rough couple months, UML's Kevin Boyle came to play as he made 37 saves. I thought the best part of BC's game was their penalty killing as it was a lot more aggressive, in fact, a friend of mine who has only been to one game this season kept asking me why they were so aggressive on the PK which is exactly what they need to be doing. Of course, you're never going to kill off every penalty and it gets a lot harder when you have to spend so much time running around your own zone and blocking shots but job well done last night. Lowell's first goal came just a couple seconds after a penalty to Noah Hanifin (who played great) but I'm not exactly sure what happened as their guy was left wide open in front of Demko and we somehow didn't have anyone there to intercept a cross ice pass in our zone.

The final twenty minutes was perhaps BC's best all around  period of hockey in a long time but unfortunately, a mental error on the power play came back to haunt them. As talented as BC's back core is, they have way too many moments in which they keep trying to reverse the puck in their own zone and they got burned because of it last night. Outside of that error, BC's power play continues to be red hot but they can't make a difference in a game because they have half as many opportunities as the opponent does. It is a complete joke and it's going to end up killing our season. Ian McCoshen (+2 and a goal) continued to display why he is BC's most pro ready player while his partner Noah Hanifin was also very solid. Like I said last week, I think part of the reason for the struggles of Matheson and Santini are because they are not with familiar with each other. They compliment each others games rather well but haven't played together at all since Santini's arrival. Hopefully they can get Linell or Silk back soon to enable Doherty to go back to defense.

Anyways, really frustrating result but it didn't have much to do with the way BC played. Once again, they played hard but just didn't put the puck in the net. We said this at the start of the year and it rings truer now more than ever. In order to win games, these guys not only need great goaltending but they have to limit their opponents chances on the power play while at the same cashing in on PP's of their own. Unfortunately, because of outside forces, they once again are getting short ended. Big one on Monday vs Harvard.

Who to root for tonight- 

1. Penn State to beat Minnesota (currently 3-2 PSU)

2. Northern Michigan to beat Bowling Green

3. UMass to beat PC

Positives- 

1. Penalty kill was great. They were aggressive, fast, and ferocious but it doesn't help when they are out there the whole game.

2. Demko played much better. I would give Barone or Billett the start on Monday. Demko needs rest and it is going to be brutally tough next weekend.

3. Hanifin and McCoshen were great.


Negatives- 

1. First two period were not very good. They had the puck a lot more than we did and seemed to have a lot more grade A scoring chances. Need the second line to be better.

Next- Harvard on Monday.





Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lowell Preview


Tomorrow night will commence the most important stretch of the season for the maroon and gold as they will kick off a campaign that will likely make or break their NCAA tournament chances when the UMass Lowell River Hawks come to town. As you probably know, UML defeated BC in the first game of the season @ Tsongas Center by a 3-1 score but ever since Christmas, Norm Bazin's team has been in a bit of a slump. After defeating Merrimack in the finals of the Mariucci Classic on January 3rd, the Hawks are just 3-7-1, a record that currently has them on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble. However, while they may be struggling as of late, Lowell is coming off a 7-1 victory over arch rival UMass on Saturday night, a win that kept them in the conversation for one of the four Hockey East home ice spots.

I did a little bit of math and by my calculations, if BC wins 3 of it's final 4 regular season games and avoids a disaster in the first round (meaning a sweep), they should be on their way to a 6th straight NCAA tournament appearance but a loss tomorrow night would most likely drop them back down to 13th while a win could move them up as high as 9th. Everyone always talks about how we need team X and team Y to lose but if we take care of our own business, we will without a doubt have a chance to compete for a National Title. Another big aspect of tomorrow's game is the race for one of the top four spots in Hockey East. As it stands now, BC, Providence, Notre Dame, Lowell, and Northeastern are all realistically in the hunt for three of the four available spots (BU is pretty much set in stone to be a top 4 team).  Not only would that mean a home ice playoff series but the Eagles would have two full weeks to rest up and get prepared for the upcoming stretch run. We all know how banged up they are and a win tomorrow night would go a long way in cementing a lot of important scenarios for the them.

As I said earlier, Lowell comes into this game in a bit of rough stretch but they're only three spots out of the NCAA tournament so obviously they know how much their  hopes rest on this game. I would tell you that I think it's probably going to be another one of those defensive style contest but I also thought last Saturday would be to and look how that turned out. In order to win, BC has to do a couple things a lot better than they did a week ago. First of all, they're going to need their best player to be their best player. Demko certainly wasn't at his best vs the Catamounts but you can certainly attribute a lot of that to BC's poor defensive zone play. Too often, our defensemen are forgetting to pick up their assignments and are getting beat to the net (i.e. UVM's OT goal). They wouldn't have to be running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off if they did a better job of getting the puck out of the zone and avoiding turnovers. I've said this all year and I'll say it again, 90% of the goals that this team gives up are because they shoot themselves in the foot with either a stupid turnover or ill advised penalty. Hopefully they can shore those things up for tomorrow.

Scouting Lowell- 

Record- 17-10-4 (18th in pairwise)

Leading scorers- CJ Smith (freshman 13-17-30), Evan Campbell (9-13-22), Joe Gambardella (8-14-22)

Top line- Smith- Gambardella- Edwardh

Team offense- 3.42 goals scored per game (8th)

Team defense- 2.65 goals allowed per game (35th)

Power play- 19.5% (21st)

Penalty kill- 78.3% (47th)

Goalie- Kevin Boyle 91.3 save percentage (47th)....he may not start but that is who I would bet on.

Keys for BC- 

1. The weaknesses of this Lowell team are exactly what their strengths were a year ago. They are not real deep on the blue line, struggle on the penalty kill, and have been horrible in goal so far. Take advantage.

2. BC goes where Demko/first line goes. When those four guys are on, BC can beat anybody. When they are not playing as well, BC is in danger of losing. I'd like to see Gilmour have a big night.

3. Stay. Out. Of. The. Box.

Notes- Silk and Linell didn't practice this week so both are highly doubtful. Doherty playing forward.

Go Eagles