Thursday, February 26, 2015

Notre Dame Preview

Fresh off a season salvaging win vs Harvard on Monday night, BC will hit the road to take on their catholic school rivals from South Bend where they will be seeking revenge after last year's Hockey East playoff loss. While the win vs Harvard was monumental for BC's pairwise standing, a win or two this weekend would all but assure a first round bye in the Hockey East playoffs and more importantly, a spot in the NCAA tournament. However, it won't be easy as the Eagles will be a facing a Notre Dame team that took three of four points @ Boston University last weekend and two from Providence the weekend before. No matter what the national rankings say, Notre Dame is a terrific hockey club that has really played well as of late. Not only did they beat PC and BU, but they took 3 of 4 points from Maine in Orono earlier this month. Of course, while BC and ND don't have the history that BC and BU have, there is no doubt that the Irish are coming on as one of the Eagles' most heated rivals, especially after the shenanigans they pulled in our rink last year. Sure, they won the series fair and square but the amount of times they tried to mix in a last second change even though we had last change was pathetic. Put it simply, these two teams can't stand each other and this weekend will be an absolute war.

Whether you like Notre Dame or not (I can't stand them) you can't deny that Jeff Jackson has done a terrific job with their hockey program. If you go back 20 years, ND was non-existent, they were absolutely terrible but ever since Jackson took over, they have won a ton of crucial recruiting battles and really elevated their program. Despite all their recent success, ND has kind of struggled this year after losing top scorers Bryan Rust, Jeff Costello, and TJ Tynan along with defensemen Stephen Johns and Shayne Taker. However, they boast one of the top units in all of college hockey with Vincent Hinostroza, Mario Lucia, Robbie Russo, Thomas DiPauli, and Sam Herr. Russo is arguably the best defensemen in the game while the line of Lucia-Hinostroza-Anders Bjork (Bruins draft pick) has been lighting the world on fire as of late. We all know how Notre Dame is going to play tomorrow. They somehow get these 5 star recruits to come in and play a trap the entire game, in fact, if you ask me, it's exactly how the game of hockey shouldn't be played. It's no fun to watch and it's really annoying when they win because it makes it seem like that system works although they have never won a National Title (what happened in 08?). Of course, the Irish have given BC all types of fits over the years, including the last time they played in this venue in 2012 when BC outplayed ND the whole game but fell victim to a last second buzzer beater in overtime. That was awful.

When I look at this Fighting Irish squad, I see two distinct weaknesses, goaltending and depth on the blue line. Sure, freshman goalie Cal Peterson played tremendous last weekend vs the Terriers but he doesn't have a great save percentage (91) nor a great GAA (2.46). I think if BC is able to get bodies to the net, along with getting puck after puck to the front of the cage, then they have a great chance to win this game. Look at the tying goal on Monday, we kept trying to make the pretty play to try and even the score but it was a scrappy play by a fourth liner that did the job. Pucks and bodies to the net. The second hole in their game is their lack of defensive depth. Yes, Russo is certainly of the best in the game but other than him, they don't have anyone that jumps out at you. Jordan Gross and Luke Ripley are both freshmen while sophomore Justin Wade didn't play at all last season. Let's see if BC can get puck deep, be physical, and ware these guys down. I'm not sold on their defense and goaltending.

Scouting Notre Dame- 

Record- 14-15-5 (32nd in PWR)

Leading scorers- Vincent Hinostroza (8-28-36), Mario Lucia (19-7-26), Robbie Russo (12-18-30)

Team offense- 2.94 goals scored per game (20th)

Team defense- 2.74 goals allowed per game (

Power play- 15% (38th...still very dangerous)

Penalty kill- 83% (28th)

Shots on goal per game- 27.5 (43rd)

Keys for BC- 

1. McCoshen and Hanifin out there every time against Hinostroza and Lucia. Whoever wins this matchup will win the game. Our best guys vs their best guys. Noah and Ian were great vs Vesey.

2. Watch out for their fourth line. Notre Dame has a couple of highly skilled NHL draft picks on their bottom line in Austin Wuthrich and Steven Fogarty. Maybe match Fitz up vs them, 3rd line vs DiPauli and Herr.

3. Just stay out of the box. The amount of penalties this team takes in comparison to years past is absurd.

Notes- I'll tweet something out if Silk or Linell play but I don't expect it.

Off to South Bend in the morning, Go Eagles !

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