Friday, December 28, 2012

Previewing the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers

After nearly a three week layoff, the #1 ranked Boston College Eagles will hit the road to face the University of Alabama Huntsville Chargers and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers this weekend in St.Paul, Minnesota as part of the Mariucci Classic (hosted by the UofM). Before facing off with the high powered Gophers on Sunday, the Eagles will look to hand Coach York his record breaking win as they take on the Chargers of UAH who are currently 3-14-1 on the year, their only win coming vs a division one opponent being @ Lake Superior State, the other two coming against a division three school. While Huntsville may very well be one of the worst teams in college hockey, they defeated top ranked Denver last season @ Magness Arena so it's not like the Eagles can just show up and expect to win. As noted earlier this week, BC will be without star forward Johnny G who is in Ufa, Russia trying to help Team USA to a gold medal. Without Johnny G, everyone wearing the maroon and gold tomorrow night needs to bring their game a notch and contribute. Forward Destry Straight is in for tomorrows game as he will most likely be put on the top line with Pat Mullane and Steven Whitney in place of Johnny G. While he remains questionable, I wouldn't expect that Isaac Macleod would be able to play tomorrow as it appears that his shoulder is still giving him fits. Isaac did practice this week but it was in a red medical uniform, meaning he couldn't engage in contact. If  Issac is indeed out, look for freshman defenseman Travis Jeke to get his first start of his young BC career. Seeing him skate, it appears to me that Jeke is ready to step in and play but his play in his own zone can be a little suspect at times. Having your first game come against these guys doesn't hurt I guess. It doesn't need to be said that BC is going to have a tough time scoring without their leading scorer and play maker but I do think that the Eagles have guys in the bottom half of their lineup that are capable of brining their games up a couple of notches. I'm interested to see how well guys like Linell, Smith, and Silk can play vs a team like Huntsville because we have seen them turn it up in past games but it just hasn't been on a consistent level.

The play of the defenseman is what I am going to be watching for tomorrow. There were multiple defensive collapses in the game vs Providence and a couple of them led to goals. Is UAH going to create a lot of scoring chances tomorrow ? Probably not. Are they capable of doing so if BC shuts it off defensively ? Yes. The third BU game was probably the first full 60 minute effort that this defensive unit has had since early November and in order to win two games this weekend, that certainly needs to change (especially for Sunday). Statistically, the Chargers rank second to last in terms of goals per game (1.44)  and are also second to last in team defense as they are allowing over 4 goals per game. On special teams, the UAH power play ranks 35th in the country as they are converting at a 15.71 rate so far this season and are 48th in terms of penalty kill percentage. All stats are out of 59 teams. Just by looking at the numbers, you can see that BC is heavily favored to win this one and it would take a collapse of epic proportions for the Eagles not to come away with a victory. What I would like to see tomorrow is for BC not just to win but to dominate the play for a full 60 minutes and continue to score goals at will. I'm interested to see how the team adjust to playing without Johnny G but with a solid effort from every guy, a win over the lowly Chargers should be accomplished.

Keys for BC-

1. Dominate the play from start to finish. I look for the defending champs to play a full 60 minute hockey game tomorrow and capture a record breaking victory for their coach.

2. Getting a big night from their (Johnny G less) first line. Hopefully Destry Straight can jump in and contribute right away alongside Whitney and Mullane.

3. Avoiding defensive breakdowns. I don't see how BC can lose if they avoid breaking down in their own end on multiple occasions like they did vs Providence. A solid game on the defensive end would be a big confidence booster heading into a date with the Gophers.

All time series- This is the first ever meeting between Boston College and UAH.

BC At the Mariucci- In 4 appearances in the Mariucci Classic, Boston College has two 4th place finishes (91, 96), a second place finish in 2002 and a championship in 2007.

Injury Report- Destry Straight is a go. Isaac Macleod is questionable as of now.

Go Eagles !

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