Sunday, December 30, 2012
Previewing the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
We all remember last April in Tampa Bay, Florida. Well, so do the Gophers and their fans. They remember being utterly embarrassed by the Eagles from start to finish, ending in a 6-1 victory for the good guys. Tonight is the perfect revenge game for the Golden Gophers and BC has to bring everything they have. I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn't worried about this one. This Minnesota team is loaded top to bottom with guys like Bjugstad, Haula, Budish, and Rau that will probably go on to play at the next level some day. So far this year, Minnesota ranks 4th in the county with a 12-3-3 record and are coming off an impressive 4-0 win over the Air Force Falcons. Surprisingly, the Gophers have lost this year to teams like Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, and Nebraska Omaha. However, only one of those losses came at Mariucci Arena (Nebraska-Omaha) and the Gophers are obviously playing some good hockey right now. One interesting stat is that of the 21 guys on their line chart, 17 of them are from the state of Minnesota and not one defenseman is from outside the land of 10,000 lakes. I believe tonight is going to be one of the toughest games this Eagle squad will face all season. BC will need guys like Hayes, Whitney, and Mullane to play their best while guys like Linell, Silk, and Spiro need to continue to play like they did last night. Minnesota is in a totally different universe than UAH is but that doesn't mean BC can compete with them and win this hockey games. When you're an underdog such as BC is tonight, you need to stay out of the box to prevent the Gophers from getting even more chances, you need to capitalize on your power play chances, and BC is going to need great goaltending from Parker Milner. While watching the Gophers last night vs Air Force, the biggest thing that stood out to me was their aggressive forecheck. I don't think the Falcons were able to get a shot on net in the first period, let alone get the puck past the Minnesota blue line. With 5(!) freshman going tonight, it's going to be of the utmost importance that BC does not give Minnesota grade A chances off turnovers in their own zone.
On the offensive end, I like how BC's game translates to the Olympic size ice sheet out here in St.Paul. The wide sheet allows for more skating room, more passing, and more chances if you play at the pace the Eagles like to. Look for the Eagles to try and get out in space to create odd man rushes that will lead to good scoring chances. BC's first line needs to be better than it was last night in order for a win. I thought Mullane and Whitney were solid for the most part but solid is not going to cut it tonight vs the Golden Gophers. As I said yesterday, I hope that Kevin Hayes, Billy Arnold, and Brendan Silk can continue to play like they have been because if they're not playing well and scoring tonight, BC's chances for a victory is diminished. I hope BC is not going to dominate these guys and win by three or four goals. I can't remember a time where I've said BC is actually a big underdog in a hockey game but tonight they are certainly big underdogs to say the least.
In the end, I'm very excited to see how the nations #1 team that is severely beat up and has numerous freshman defenseman, fares against the most talented team in college hockey. This is not just another game tonight, it is a game in which, should BC win, it will send their confidence through the roof. It's going be as difficult a game as these guys will play in their time @ BC but with an all around team effort and the ability to win the special teams battle, a win tonight can be achieved.
Keys for the Eagles-
1. BC has to stay out of the box. If BC gives Minnesota power plays, they have zero chance of winning this game.
2. Need at least one power play goal. Both units are moving it around pretty well but they're not scoring. If and when the Gophers go to the box, BC needs to capitalize on their chances.
3. Stay with them. All BC needs to do is make this a hockey game going into the third period and they will have a chance to win.
Players to watch
Nick Bjugstad- Is said to be one of the best forwards in the entire country and will certainly be a player in the NHL someday.
Erik Haula- No one stood out to me more than Haula did last night. He is one talented hockey player.
Zach Budish- Another one of those power forwards that will play in the NHL someday. At 6'3 and 214 lbs, he can make things happen when on the ice.
All Time Series- Boston College is 12-14-2 all time vs the Golden Gophers. We all know what happened in the last meeting.
Injury notes- Macleod is doubtful, Alber is out.