Friday, November 9, 2012

Previewing the #7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Ever since I found out that Notre Dame was coming to Conte Forum this year, I have been eagerly awaiting the game. When I found out that they were coming the same weekend that the team plays BU ? Well, I just started counting down the days. Now it's here, the biggest weekend (besides BU week of course) of the year. The Eagles will kick of the first leg of the gigantic weekend vs school rival and an evolving hockey rival, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. So far this year, Notre Dame ranks first in the CCHA with a 4-1 league record and a 6-2 overall record. Some keys wins for Notre Dame include Western Michigan, Minnesota Duluth, and Northern Michigan (x2). The only common opponent between Boston College and Notre Dame is Maine, who Notre Dame defeated 1-0 to open the season at the Icebreaker Invitational. Leading the way for the Fighting Irish this season are star forwards Anders Lee, Jeff Costello and TJ Tynan, all of whom have scored two or more goals and multiple assist. In terms of their big line, last week the Fighting Irish had Rust-Lee-Costello going as their second line and had DiPauli-Tynan-Schneider as their first line. Compared to a small and speedy Eagles team, Notre Dame has a lot of big, strong, and powerful forwards...basically, it's two very,very different styles of hockey that will faceoff tonight. Typical Jeff Jackson teams play a style not unlike a Merrimack or a Lowell just they have a lot more stars up front that score the puck. Tonight, look for ND to try to shut down BC's powerful offense by setting up a neutral zone trap and clogging as many passing lanes in between the blue lines as they can.

On defense, Notre Dame is led by Robbie Russo and Stephen Johns, each of whom have recorded phenomenal +/- thus far this year (John's is +8 for the season). In the crease, Notre Dame will likely be starting JR Steven Summerhayes who has recorded a solid 1.68 GAA and has only allowed five goals in just three games played. While ND may start someone else, I would put my money on seeing Summerhayes in net tonight vs the nations's number one team.

For BC, well, it doesn't get any bigger than this. Playing your school  rival @ home in front of what  Coach York said last week could be the biggest crowd in the history of BC Hockey ? If you can't get amped for that, then I don't know what you can get amped for. Last week vs Maine and UMass, BC struggled at times with some sloppy play that was evident by some horrible defensive zone turnovers that led to some opposing goals. Against teams like Notre Dame, turnovers, penalties, and bad decision making will likely result in goals for the blue and gold. Surprisingly  the first line had a good but not amazingly good weekend last week like they usually do. If BC wants to score early and often vs the Fighting Irish, the first like needs to play better than they did in the first period @ Maine and the first period @ UMass. If you have watched this team closely this year, you can't help but be satisfied by the way Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold are playing through seven conference games. I thought that they would be good players this year and they would be a great compliment to the big three but honestly, they, along with Destry Straight, have been better than the big three at some points. Hopefully, Hayes, Arnold, and Straight can continue to play at a high level, something that is essential for this team to win night in and night out. On the defensive side of things, guys NEED to stay out of the box tonight. Vs teams like Maine, Lowell, and UMass, you might get away with penalties here and there but against Notre Dame ? No, no way.

I am excited for this say the least. When Conte Forum is packed like it will be tonight, it is one of the best places in the country to watch a college hockey game. Like I said a few weekes ago, you learn a lot about your hockey team every week but this weekend, we will learn pretty much everything we need to know about this BC Hockey team. We'll get to BU tomorrow but for now, let's hope the guys continue to play like they have and can add what would be a  huge win in the confidence column and in the pairwise column. Check back tonight for a recap.

Keys for the Eagles-

1. Poise and control. With the crowd going nuts tonight, BC needs to stay composed early on and take it to Notre Dame. BC can't be taking penalties that will allow ND to take it to the Eagles.

2. Staying out of the box- BC leads Hockey East in penalty minutes, something you don't see very often out of a BC Hockey team. Tonight, lots of penalties will result in a loss.

3. The first line- If BC is going to win tonight, the first line needs to be scoring not just on the power play, but on five on five hockey. A good first few shifts by this line could really go a long way in a BC win.

Last Meeting- Notre Dame stunned BC with less than a second left last year in South Bend...winning 3-2.

All Time Series- BC is 16-14-2 all time vs Notre Dame. 8-7-2 all time under Coach York.

Best Opposing Line- Costello-Lee-Rust

Prediction- BC 2 ND 1 OT


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