Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Midweek Column-Preparing for Battle

When I walked into Conte Forum yesterday for practice, I suddenly noticed that the atmosphere was a little more intense. I am not sure if it was the coaches or the players, but it was all business everyone seemed to be practicing just a little bit harder. When you see this, you know it's BU week. This weekend is a big opportunity for this Eagle squad and it's not just because they have a chance to beat their archrivals for the second and third time this year, but it's because they have a great opportunity to show the country that they are the class of college hockey once again. BC now has a three game winning streak vs the Terriers dating back to a year ago, and one common theme in all three of those wins is that they have scored within the first 10 minutes of the first period. Destry Straight's goal 20 seconds into the game two weeks ago was certainly a confidence booster that allowed the team to play well for the rest of the game. As they always do, BC will have a big advantage when it comes to facing the Terriers' first two lines. The last BU game was the game of the year for guys like Billy Arnold and Kevin Hayes but without Destry with them this weekend, they need to be able to create even more scoring chances for themselves. Out of all four lines, the second line was certainly the one that spent the most time in the BU zone a couple of Sundays ago. The play of that line (without Destry) is going to be crucial in order for BC to gain four points this weekend.

First things first for BC, they need to take less penalties than they did two weeks ago. While BU's power play continues to struggle so far this year, they still have guys like Hohmann and Megan that can score more than most. When it comes to 5 on 5 hockey, BC is the better hockey team and can usually impose their will on opponents when they want to. When you take penalties and give the opponent quality chances on the man advantage, you will pay for it. BC's penalty kill still remains one of the top ones in the league and in the country but it would be nice if they were out there no more than 3 or 4 times on Friday. Now if you've watched BU hockey this year you know that they like to dive and they are particularly good at it. There were probably 3 or 4 examples from the first game that stand out but it's something they've always used to their advantage. Hopefully they decide not to dive all over the ice like they did vs both BC and North Dakota earlier this year. The same goes for both teams really because whether your a BC or a BU fan, we can all agree that diving simply does not belong in this game. That said, when BC goes on the power play, they need to find a way to score. BU's penalty kill was the best I have seen so far as they, not unlike BC, have guys that are always attacking the puck until it is cleared. The Eagles need to make sure they are generating good chances at the same time being cautious enough so BU doesn't get any odd man rushes on the man down. I cannot tell you how critical the power play will be for the Eagles this weekend. If it gets back to the way it was in the wins vs UMass, Maine, and Lowell, it gives BC a huge advantage over the Terriers. If they struggle like they have been as of late, it will potentially come back to haunt them.

No matter what the outcomes are, we know that these are going to be absolutely phenomenal hockey games between two teams that do not like each other one bit. Playing at Agganis has been a real plus for BC in the past few years as they are 10-2-1 all time @ The Jack Parker Rink and have not yet lost in the fours years that this senior class has been at the Heights (5-0). Another stat that's surely a positive for BC ? They are a solid 8-2-1 in their last 11 meetings versus the Terriers, losing both last year @ Conte Forum. You know the last thing in the world that Coach Jack Parker wants to see is Coach York walk off the ice tying/breaking Ron Mason's all time wins record. With this being the case, BC knows that BU is going to come out with everything they have both nights. Scoring early and getting the game to become as high paced as possible would be huge for BC. The Terriers will try to slow it down with power plays and penalties all night because really, that's the only way to beat the Eagles. If you're a BC fan and you're not excited for this weekend, then you've got to get checked out because this is going to be one intense weekend of hockey as it always is when these two rivals face off.

Preview coming tomorrow


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