For the third and fourth times in three years, the Boston College Eagles will face-off against Big Ten rival, Minnesota. This time it will be two games between the perennial powerhouses @ UM's Mariucci Arena. Here is something for you to think about. When BC traveled out to St.Paul last year for the Mariucci Classic, their starting defensive group vs the Gophers was Sullivan, Doherty, Wey, Matheson, Jeke, and Peter McMullen. Now, in no way is that an excuse for the embarrassing 8-1 to the Gophers but comparing that D core to this years is like comparing apples and oranges.
The Golden Gophers are ranked #1 in both the USCHO and USA Today polls as they are 4-0 on the year with wins over Mercyhurst, UNH, and Bemidji State (x2). Obviously, Minnesota is a good club. There are certain teams that are good almost every season. BC is one of them and so is Minnesota. They are a great example of how a college athletic program doesn't have to go all over the world to recruit top end talent. They have TWENTY kids from the North Star state. Yes, Minnesota is a young and talented bunch much like Boston College but let's get real here for a second. They lost the entirety of their top power play unit from a year ago, a group that ranked #1 in the country and utterly embarrassed BC's PK. Bjugstad, Haula, Budish, and Schmidt were all world class college hockey players. You don't just replace those guys.
In terms of numbers, the Gophers know how to put the puck in the net as they rank third in the country with 5.00 goals per game (BC is second with 5.67 goals per game). Another advantage BC has over the Gophers (surprisingly) is the amount of penalties taken. So far this season, Boston College has taken fifteen penalties while the Gophers have made twenty one trips to the sin bin. Unlike BC's previous opponent, Wisconsin, the Gophers are extremely strong in net. Sophomore Adam Wilcox is without a doubt one of the top netminders in the nation and currently has allowed just 1.50 goals per game this season. He was absolutely sensational against the Eagles last December.
Overall, I think BC matches up well against the Gophers. I will take BC's top two lines over any other combinations in the country, including Minnesota's top unit of Rau, Warning, and Fasching. If Johnny G, Gilmour, and Arnold can find a way to outplay these guys and make Warning a non-factor, I think BC has a great chance to win. The Gophers will have last change which could make in difficult to get these guys, along with Matheson and McCoshen, out there every shift when Rau and Warning are out but if they can do that, look for a big night from the Eagles. It's plain and simple. BC just needs to continue to stay out of the box, create odd man rushes, and avoid turnovers that will lead to high quality scoring chances for the Gophers.
Inside the Numbers-
1. Minnesota leads the all time series 15-12-2. BC is 1-6-1 vs Minnesota @ Mariucci.
2. Coach York is 4-1-3 versus the Gophers.
3. The last meeting was won by.....we aren't going to talk about that.
4. Johnny G (2.33) and Sam Warning (2.25) rank 1st and 2nd in the NCAA in points per game.
Keys for the Eagles-
1. No penalties. Minnesota always has a good power play....much like Michigan. We all know how that went.
2. Help Demko settle down early. I think it would pay huge dividends if BC was able to garner a one or two goal lead after the first period.
3. Score on the power play. I didn't like the way either unit looked versus Wisconsin. I think the larger sheet of ice will allow BC to move it around quicker and hopefully score some goals.
Johnny G- Arnold- Gilmour
Fitzgerald- Hayes- Cangelosi
Smith- Brown- Calnan
Straight- Sit- Silk
GO EAGLES !!!