Saturday, January 18, 2014
Previewing the University of Maine Black Bears
Tonight, the Eagles will try to knock off their own post BU victory hangover and give a more complete, 60 minute effort vs a much more talented and deeper Maine Black Bear club. In the first meeting between these two clubs back in late November up in Orono, the Black Bears embarrassed BC by a score of 5-1, including a first period in which they scored three goals, the first being twenty five seconds into the game. First of all, let's take a look at how well Red Gendron has this team playing right now. They haven't lost a game up @ Alfond Arena where it took them almost three months to get their first home victory a season ago. They're currently in fourth place in Hockey East, just seven points behind BC but they do have two games in hand over the Eagles. The one thing missing on their resume is a true Hockey East road victory. Technically, they picked one up last Friday vs Boston University but the setting of that game was Fenway Park, not the Jack Parker Rink. However, they did tie a very deep Lowell squad last night @ Tsongas Center thanks to a goal in the final minute and half of regulation from forward Ryan Lomberg.
There really isn't much to say about the first meeting with these guys other than the fact they embarrassed us. It was utter domination from start to finish. The Black Bears were fast, physical, and played with a lot of effort in all three zones. BC just didn't show up and when you don't show up in front of that crowd, you're going to get turned over every which way. Maine certainly did that two months ago. The most intriguing stat from that game was BC's big three (not yet a line) were a combined -9 while Maine's top line was +6. It was perhaps the only game this year where a team physically dominated both Johnny G, Kevin Hayes, and Billy Arnold so BC has got to find a way to get them going tonight in the first period. Another problem from that game ? What's been perhaps the largest issue with this team this year ? Penalties. BC took twelve of them up in Orono although the PK did a solid job holding the Bears to an 0/5 mark on the power play. Certainly the only positive from that game.
While Maine is a much deeper team than BU, I think it's safe to say BC should have a substantial advantage when it comes to the bottom six forwards, especially if they play like they did last night. Quinn Smith, Danny Linell, and Mike Sit all played solid for the majority of the game while the "fourth" line of Silk, Gilmour, and Calnan combined for a team high six points. Like I said last night, it's not reasonable to expect them to play like that night in and night out but if they can continue to pressure opponents in their own end, create turnovers, and score a goal here and there, I think this team has a chance to win a lot of hockey games. Hopefully the team will get some improved goaltending out of Thatcher Demko tonight. He was tremendous vs Brown last Saturday so hopefully he keeps that up.
Scouting the Black Bears-
Pairwise rank- 15th (11-7-3)
Best win- vs Boston College
Worst loss- @ UMass
Leading scorers- Devin Shore (11-15-26), Connor Leen (3-15-18), Ben Hutton (9-8-17)
Team offense- 3.29 goals per game (14th)
Team defense- 2.00 goals allowed per game (3rd)
Power play- 20 % (21st)
Penalty kill- 86 % (9th)
Penalty minutes- 8.10 penalty minutes per game. 5th lowest in NCAA.
Keys for the Eagles-
1. Get the big guns going early. They were severely outplayed up in Orono. That's gotta change tonight.
2. If we get out to an early lead, no stupid penalties. One of these games, we're going to be up by three goals and guys are going to continue to take dumb penalties and it will cost us a game. That can't happen in big games like this.
3. Need better goaltending. Demko tonight.
1. BC is 60-45-9 all time versus Maine.
2. BC is 6-2 in it's last 8 home games vs Maine. The Black Bears' two wins here last year was their first since October 2005.
3. 7 PM puck drop.