For the second time in three weeks, the Eagles will step out of conference play, this time to take on former ECAC rival, Dartmouth College Saturday afternoon @ Kelly Rink. While a non conference game, this game has some big time implications as the Big Green currently rank right behind BC in the pairwise rankings at #4. The Eagles haven't faced Dartmouth since the 2008 season in which they defeated the Big Green by a 2-1 margin in Hanover. Tomorrow's game however is not a game vs a lowly ECAC team that is just showing up to try and beat the #1 team in the country. No, tomorrow is a game vs a team that doesn't just think they have a chance tomorrow, but believe they will win. Why do I say that ? Well, you can't say the Big Green are not a good club as they have, like BC, lost just one game on the season, a road loss @ Colgate. Besides that one blemish in Hamilton, the Big Green have beaten some pretty quality hockey teams like Yale, Union, and have an impressive tie vs Cornell in Ithaca. Look, BC knows tomorrow is not going be to a roll over game for them...they know it's a big non conference game that when push comes to shove at the seasons end, will have big time NCAA tournament implications. Right now, a win over a top 5 pairwise team would go a long way in helping BC in the confidence column and in the pairwise column. One stat to watch out for when looking at Dartmouth ? They have the #1 penalty kill in the country as they have killed of 28 of 29 penalties so far this year which will be a great test for a BC power play that to me, looks a little out of sorts right now. There was that nice goal to cap the comeback vs Merrimack last week but other than that, the Eagles have not scored once in 14 other power play chances. Basically, 1/15 since the game vs Notre Dame is not going to cut it. It's not that they look awful and are not getting any shots at all, because both units are getting chances but they have either been turn away by the goalie or missed the net and cleared. Shot selection has been a bit of an issue the last couple of games for both units. There is no need to be worried too much about either unit but scoring one or two goals on the man advantage would go a long way in winning tomorrows game.
In terms of the ECAC standings, the Big Green rank first and still have two games in hand on second place Cornell. In goal, it is not known who will play for Dartmouth as they started freshman Charles Grant in the tie @ Cornell but have played Jr Cab Morris in 6 of their other games so far this year. Grant has 5 goals against compared to Morris' 8 and he also beats Morris in the GAA category with a 1.63 GAA compared to Morris' 1.97 GAA. Up front, the Big Green are led by Eric Robinson (8-3-11), Tyler Sikura (5-7-12), and Matt Lindblad (3-3-6). Robinson currently leads the ECAC with those 8 goals on the season and Sikura, who has five goals on the year, also ranks in the top 10 in that same category. In terms of their power play, the Big Green have converted on just 17 % of their chances, a stat that ranks them 7th in the ECAC. As we mentioned earlier, their PK, which ranks #1 in the country, has killed off an astonishing 96 % of their penalties. It should be interesting to see two of the best penalty kill units in the country go at it tomorrow as BC's PK has also looked very sharp, killing off 14 of their last 15 penalties (the last goal coming in the final seconds @ BU).
With Destry Straight out tomorrow with a high ankle sprain, BC is once again going to need some strong play from their bottom 6 forwards, particularly Mike Sit, Danny Linell, and Brendan Silk. Last weekend, I thought the second, without Destry, looked a little bit out of rhythm but that doesn't mean Quinn Smith played bad in his new spot. I actually think Smith's style of play goes hand in hand with guys like Arnold and Hayes. I think the staff likes how Smith really goes hard after pucks and gets them to Hayes and Arnold who are expected to make the plays. Obviously, they key for any team when they play BC will be how they control the first line. You can't stop them so you just have to basically hope they don't decided to turn it into high gear and score a goal every other shift. Tomorrow should be a good hockey game between two really good teams that have proven they can win vs tough opponents. Hopefully, the Eagles play like they did in the final 35 minutes of Friday's game vs MC and take it to the Big Green.
Keys for the Eagles-
1. The second line's play. After a bit of a tough game last week, it would be nice to see Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold get back to the way they have been playing all year. When the top two lines are scoring, BC is a really tough team to beat.
2. Playing a full 60 minutes- Last week, BC got away with it and played maybe 45 good minutes vs Merrimack. Tomorrow, a full 60 minute effort will be needed in order to get a victory.
3. The Power Play- If the PP gets back to the way it was in the games vs UMass, NU, Lowell, and Maine, they will start scoring again.
All Time Series- BC leads 60-30-0...Last Big Green win was in 2002.
Players to watch-
Tyler Sikura- 5 goals and 7 assist on the year. Leads team in points.
Eric Robinson- 8 goals and 3 assist so far this year. Leads team, and league, in goals.
Prediction- BC 3 Dartmouth 1
Injury Note- Destry Straight is out.
GO EAGLES !
NOTE- REMEMBER TO BRING AN UNWRAPPED TOY....