Here it is ladies and gentlemen, the moment we have all been waiting for. The Eagles will start their quest for a third NCAA title in five years on Saturday when they take on Air Force @ the DCU Center in Worcester. The Eagles come into the tournament hotter than any team in the country as the team has rattled off 15 straight wins including a 4-1 thumping of Maine on Saturday to claim the Hockey East title. Right now, it seems pretty clear that the Eagles cannot be stopped by any team but themselves. The game vs the Black Bears on Saturday was not just a good win, but was in my opinion, the best 60 minutes of hockey this team has played in two months. While the Eagles are the heavy favorites versus the Falcons, I don't think BC should underestimate the talent and potential this Air Force team brings to the table. After all, the Falcons do have a Hobey Baker candidate and AHA player of the year in defenseman Tim Kirby who leads all defenseman in the AHA in terms of points with 28. Here is my thing with the Falcons, yea they may not be as talented or as skilled as BC but in the end, these guys won their league and they qualified for this tournament which means they're a good hockey team no matter what you want to say. Some will say the Falcons have played a light schedule. Yes, they play in a weaker conference but Air Force has some quality wins over teams like Colorado College, RIT, and a one goal loss to North Dakota. Like the Eagles, Air Force also comes into the tourney on a hot streak as they have won five out of their last six games overall. Honestly, I don't see Air Force winning this game if BC plays like they did on Saturday. I think BC's speed and the goaltending of Parker Milner will prove to be too much for Air Force. Look for the Eagles to get to the regional final on Sunday versus Maine or Minnesota Duluth.
Keys for the Eagles.
1. Forget about last year. Last season's embarrassing 8-4 loss to Colorado College needs to be put in the rear mirror as the team must have a good mental mindset heading into the weekend.
2. Special Teams. I think the biggest reason BC beat Maine on Saturday was their special teams. I think the power play and penalty kill will go a long way in helping BC win this game.
3. Production from all four lines. I think the reason BC is #1 in the country is the depth of this team is unmatched around the country. If the second and fourth lines play well, watch out.
Players to Watch
1. Tim Kirby. From what I hear, Kirby is one of the best defenseman in the country. The 6'1 defenseman from Minnesota has recorded 28 points so far this season for the Falcons. He is also a Hobey Baker candidate.
2. John Kruse leads all Falcons with 16 goals on the season and also has 30 points for Air Force. Also leads the team in +/- with a +14 rating.
3. Kyle DeLaurell has the most points on this Falcons team with 15 goals and 23 assist so far this season.
Air Force Team Stats
1. Air Force is tied with UConn in the AHA with 3.05 goals scored a game so far this season.
2. Air Force has the 6th best power play in the AHA with a 17 % conversion rate. Air Force's penalty kill ranks 5th in the AHA with a 80 % kill rate.
3. Despite all their success within their league, Air Force's goaltending ranks 7th in the AHA as they have allowed 3.05 goals a game.
All Time Series- BC is 5-0 all time vs Air Force including 1-0 record under Coach York.
1. BC is 8-1 all time in the DCU Center during NCAA tournament play. BC's last loss in Worcester was to North Dakota in 2005.
2. BC is 9-1 all time in the first round under Coach York. The lone loss came last year versus Colorado College.
3. Coach York's 33 wins in NCAA tournament play are the most ever out of division one college hockey coaches.
Stay tuned for my NCAA predictions tonight.