Saturday, January 17, 2015

Maine Preview

Coming off their biggest regular season win in a couple of years, the Boston College Eagles will hit the road once again tomorrow afternoon when they face the University of Maine Black Bears at 3 PM. Maine is coming off a tough 2-0 loss on Friday night at home vs a very good UMass-Lowell squad, a game in which they were outshot by a 42-24 margin. Unfortunately for the Black Bears and their diehard fans, the days of Spencer Abbott and Gustav Nyquist are long gone and second year head coach Red Gendron has struggled to get consistent production from his top guys, particularly All-Americans Ben Hutton and Devin Shore, both NHL draft picks. Headlining Maine's freshmen class was one of the top scorers in the USHL, Liam Pecoraro, but even he has struggled to put the puck in the back in the net. It won't help that they're going up against a BC team that is playing as good as anyone in the country right now.

If you follow BC Hockey closely, you would know how many times we have struggled up at the Alfond. In my five trips there, BC has just one win so I'm hoping the four hour ride tomorrow morning will be worth it. It will be a battle of two teams headed in opposite directions as we all know the Eagles are playing as well as any club in the country while the Black Bears are 7-15-1 on the season and currently sit in a tie for last place in the league, their only two wins in Hockey East play were at home vs UMass. It seems like Gendron has come in and tried to establish a totally different style of play compared to what Tim Whitehead had the Black Bears doing in years past. Those Maine teams from 2004-2011 were fast, skilled, and played at a tempo very similar to what BC did during their big runs. The new regime seems to have placed an emphasis on size as Maine brought in a 6'3 defenseman in Mark Hamilton, two 6'1 forwards in Jake Musil and Cedric LeCroix, and two 6'2 forwards in Malcolm Hayes and Nolan Vesey.

In our first matchup with the Black Bears, it was yet another example of how BC plays better against those bigger, more physical, teams compared to the ones that are on the smaller side but extremely skilled and fast. However, with The Sheriff back in town, BC matches up well against the best offenses in the country with their D core and goaltending, evident by what we saw last night. The biggest concern I have right now for BC is that they might get a bit too "over confident" and not compete at 100% for 60 minutes, something you must do in each Hockey East game, especially on the road @ Alfond. We proved to the country that we can beat anyone when we are playing at a high level but I know that this team can do even better than they did on Friday. Come to think of it, if it wasn't for some sensational saves from Matt O'Connor and an iffy call on Teddy Doherty late in the second, that game could have been over real quick. It will be interesting to see whether or not Austin Cangelosi is a go. I haven't heard anything but that is usually a good thing when it comes to an injury. Worst case scenario, he got hurt early in the game, tried to come back, made it worse, and left for good. I'll let you know if I hear anything.

Anyways, tremendous opportunity for these guys here tomorrow afternoon. With Lowell and Boston University duking it out as well, BC will have a chance to gain even more ground in the Hockey East standings with a win. More importantly, the Eagles would move back into the 15th or 16th spot in the pairwise with a W, setting up a gigantic matchup with Mark Dennehy's Merrimack Warriors on Wednesday evening.

Scouting Maine- 

Record- 7-15-1 (52nd in pairwise)

Leading scorers- Blaine Byron (9-8-17), Cam Brown (5-12-17), Devin Shore (5-11-16)

Team offense- 2.41 goals per game (41st)

Team defense- 3.22 goals allowed per game (48th)

Power play- 13% (45th)

Penalty kill- 81% (39th)

Penalty minutes- 9.96 minutes per game (45th lowest)

Keys for BC- 

1. Need to find out if Cangelosi is a go. Although he's got to start scoring, he has been playing very solid as of late.

2. We are a totally different team when we score the first goal and in a tough environment like Maine, scoring the first goal will be at a premium.

3. Weather the early storm. Maine is really struggling but they, like everyone else in the country, always bring out their best for the maroon and gold. That place will be rocking and the guys have to be ready from the get go, much like they were last night

Go Eagles

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