Thursday, December 26, 2013

Previewing the Bowling Green Falcons

Tomorrow evening the Eagles will kick off the second half of the season versus Coach York's former team, the Bowling Green Falcons, in the first game of the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh. Penn State and Robert Morris will play the late game. Both contest will be played at the CONSOL Energy Center, home to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Boston College will be without two defensemen, Steve Santini and Ian McCoshen along with goaltender Thatcher Demko for both games this weekend because of the World Jr Championships taking place in Sweden. Coach Brown is also in Sweden so he will be absent for both contest as well.

I think this game is going to show us just how much the team learned from the Holy Cross debacle. Sure, the guys played well vs UNH but let's be honest, the largest reason we stole four points was because of Billett and Demko. You can't rely on your goaltenders to make 30 to 40 saves each and every night. The Wildcats were a good team so of course BC was able to get up be ready for what were two extremely important league contest. Bowling Green doesn't have the pedigree that a team like UNH does so the question is, will BC be ready to play for a full 60 minutes? I mean we can all point to the Holy Cross game and talk about how bad a team they're and how it was just a rough game but this Bowling Green team has some talent. They tied Ferris State on the road, tied Union in Schenectady, and beat a Minnesota State team that was ranked in  the top 10 coming into the season on two occasions. They know they need a couple of big wins to boost their non-conference resume so BC has got to be ready for their very best 60 minutes of hockey. I mean look at what we let Holy Cross do, they looked like the Russian National team for a good two thirds of that game. The bottom line is BC has got to play like they did in the third vs HC and the second period of Friday's game vs UNH to win games at this point in the season.

The biggest thing I am looking for tomorrow is how many scoring chances BC can create. For the most part on Saturday night in Durham, the Wildcats completely shut down the #1 offense in the country. Actually, BC's big line of Johnny G, Kevin Hayes, and Bill Arnold, was the only line that made a mark on the scoring charts. I thought the second line of Fitzgerald, Cangelosi, and Straight was pretty good on both nights vs New Hampshire, especially on Friday where they combined for six points. The biggest thing that has to improve for BC in the second half is secondary scoring. I thought Gilmour was tremendous in the first five games, he needs to get back to that. Brown has been his same old, dependable, durable, solid in both ends, self. He isn't going to put up a lot of points but as long as he succeeds in the defensive zone and faceoff dot, he will play a lot of minutes. I'd like to see Quinn Smith start scoring. To be honest, I thought he would have more than one goal at this point. BC needs guys like him and Chris Calnan to score at least seven or eight goals over the course of the next three and a half months.

When all is said and done, I think this is going to be a lot closer game than people think. The Falcons rank 22nd in the country in offense, scoring nearly three goals per game. On the other hand, they allow 2.65 goals per contest. Their power play has struggled for most of the season, ranking 36th in the country (ours is still near the bottom at 45th). Their penalty kill is also in the middle of the pack with a 83 % kill rate, good for 24th in the country. Goaltender Tomas Sholl is seventh in the nation with two shutouts. So you get the point. This is not a bad hockey team. They will give us everything they have and if BC plays like they don't want to be there, I think Bowling Green is going to have a great shot.

With Santini and McCoshen out, expect Pittsburgh native Travis Jeke to make his first appearance of the
season. I would also think that Evan Richardson would play at least one of the two games but I'm not sure on that.

Keys for the Eagles- 

1. Score early and often. Holy Cross was up 5-1 on us through two periods. BC just cannot allow teams that they are so much more talented then to get out to these giant leads because they're not going to be able to make up these huge deficits each game.

2. Score. On. The. Power. Play. When was the last time we had the 45th (!!!!) ranked power play in the country ? Bowling Green takes close to 16 penalty minutes a game which is 10th is the country so look for BC to at least get some chances on the PP.

3. Need a goal or two from either the third or fourth line. BC has not lost a single game when one of Brown, Smith, Sit, Gilmour, or Calnan scores a goal.

I'm leaving for Pittsburgh tomorrow morning. First ever visit to the "Steel City"

Go Eagles !

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