As they do every year, the Eagles have played as brutal of a schedule as their can be up to this point. So far, BC has played the #1, #3(x2), #5, #8 (x2), #12, and # 18 (x2) teams in the country. BC's record in those games ? A solid 6-3-1 record and not one of those losses have come @ Conte Forum. The best news out of all this ? The Eagles will play their next 5 games versus opponents that rank 7-10 in Hockey East, with all but one of those games coming at Kelly Rink. The point ? If the Eagles want to get a leg up in the pairwise and Hockey East standings and gain some momentum heading into the Beanpot, now is the time. They have got to find a way to play like they did in Friday's contest and in the third period of Saturday's loss. Over the course of the next three weeks, 10 Hockey East points are at stake. Anything less than 10 points and 5 straight victories vs these lowly teams would be deemed as a disappointment. Last weekend I thought BC did a good job, especially in Friday's game, of playing solid in their own end which led to smooth breakouts and multiple odd man rushes, many of which resulted in goals. You'd have to go back a little while to find a weekend where this team played as solid in their own zone as they did on Friday and Saturday. The one thing that I thought prevented BC from winning on Saturday night was it's inability to stay out of the box which eventually led to the game winner for the Wildcats. BC did a phenomenal job of killing a lengthy 5 on 3 and 5 minute major in the second but because of it, they were gassed by the end of the period and gave up the first goal of the evening. I'm not going to point the finger right at Mike Matheson and say he is the main perpetrator on this team but in all honesty, BC is a lot better of a hockey team when he is on the ice. Matching him with the Johnny G or Hayes line usually results in some very good chances for the Eagles. Of course, that can't happen when he is in the box.
As for this weekend, both games come against teams that always seem to bring out their best vs BC. I'll get to Northeastern on Saturday but two days from now, the Eagles are going to be going against a UMass team that has only won one Hockey East game since Thanksgiving and they have yet to beat one of the top three teams in the league. The Minutemen's struggles at Conte Forum have been well documented by many but Friday night is going to be pretty much as close to a "must win" as possible for them. They're currently in a tie for eight place with BC's other opponent this weekend, Northeastern. My point is that BC needs to expect UMass to come at them with everything they have and anything less than an effort like last weekend's would be a step in the wrong direction. Both games vs UMass this year have been ones in which the Eagles didn't get out to the best of starts and were this close to being upset because of it. Scoring early and often in the first period would be nice to see from a BC perspective.
So, what are the things the team needs to sharpen up this weekend ? The main goal is to stay out of the penalty box. If you ask me, there are not many teams in the country that are as good as BC is when it comes to 5 on 5 hockey. You saw what the guys did vs UNH on Friday when there were just three penalties the whole entire game. However, you see games like Minnesota, Yale, and Saturday's where the Eagles put themselves in a hole because they're either giving up power play goals or their spending literally half a period in the box. I would like to see the secondary scoring continue as I'm sure the staff has to be pleased with the way the bottom two lines played last weekend. When they're playing at a high level, it makes this team that much deeper and thus, that much better overall. On the goaltending end, I thought Parker Milner played some his best hockey of the year on both nights and whenever there are some defensive lapses, he seems to always be there to cover it up. I look for a hard fought game on Friday night between one team that looks to extend their league lead and pairwise rank and another that looks to get it's season back on track with what would be a giant win. Hopefully, the good guys come to play and prevent that from happening.
Recruits Steven Santini (47th), Ian McCoshen (21st), and Ryan Fitzgerald (48th) were all ranked on the ISS's top North American draft prospects list that came out yesterday. All three will be coming to the Heights in September.
As I said on Monday, Coach Cav and Coach Brown will continue to lead the team during both contest this weekend. My best wishes go out to Coach York as I hope he is back on the bench as soon as possible.