Thursday, March 12, 2015

Vermont Preview

I drove home from school today and a thought blossomed into my head. We were not at the Garden for the Hockey East Tournament finals last season after winning the tournament four years in a row and making the "final four" every year since 2004. Honestly, the domination we used to have in this tournament is quiet amazing but a year ago we ran into one heck of a goaltender who ended our quest for five straight Lamoriello Cups in three quick games. History aside, the Eagles will begin their quest for a 12th Hockey East title and 6th consecutive NCAA tournament berth tomorrow night when the Vermont Catamounts come to town for a three game series. Of course, BC and UVM split the regular season series which took place at BC in early February. Vermont scored an OT winner just minutes after we tied it up with less than ten seconds left on Friday while we barely hung on to win 6-5 on Saturday. Kevin Sneddon's club comes into this weekend with a ton on the line as a series victory likely gives them not only an NCAA berth but also a chance for a first ever Hockey East title. Of course, the green and gold defeated Maine last weekend in a terrific series thanks to an OT winner from forward Jonathan Turk in game three.

I really don't need to say much about what is at stake for BC this weekend but we all know what happens if we win and what happens if we lose. Everyone wants a chance at Eichel and the Terriers in the finals but that isn't possible unless we find a way to get by a Vermont club that thoroughly outplayed us in four of the six periods we played exactly one month ago. We know the way UVM is going to come in and play. They're one of the top defensive teams in the country but like they showed in the third period of game two in the regular season, they can also put the puck in the net if given the opportunities. Of course, the big gun to watch out for is defenseman Mike Paliotta who leads the team in points with 35. Joining forces with Paliotta on the blue line is former Terrier Alexx Privitera who has five points in his last four games. Up front, the Catamounts lost their best forward from a season ago (McCarthy) but have three steady lines that can all do some damage. Their top forward is sophomore Brady Shaw, who had two goals in BC's 6-5 win in February. Expect UVM's top trio to be Shaw, Brendan Bradley, and senior Jake Fallon. Two things to watch out for tomorrow. First of all, while UVM is usually known as a team that likes to play a somewhat passive, defensive style of hockey, they forechecked very aggressively against us when we played earlier in the year. In fact, their heavy forecheck led to the overtime goal but in reality, it wasn't just that one instance, they outplayed us for a long time on both nights. Also, I am interested to see what the staff does with regards to the Paliotta-Privitera pairing. Will BC try and match up their top unit against those guys or will they rely on the Straight, Sit, and Smith line to try and take them out of the equation?  Like BC, Vermont gets a lot of production from it's blue line, particularly those two blue chippers.

As for the Eagles, they just have to find a way to play like they did vs Notre Dame. It seems like the Catamounts have settled on Mike Santaguida as their #1 goaltender but I would bet a lot of money that he won't be able to come in here and stop 55 shots in game one of a playoff series if BC can somehow get back to that total. We have to get pucks on net such as we did vs ND but unlike that series, we have to find a way to actually put the thing in the nylon. At the end of the day, it comes down to execution, especially in the playoffs. Let's see what these guys have in store tomorrow.

Scouting UVM- 

Record- 20-13-4 (19th in PWR)

Leading scorers- Mike Paliotta (9-26-35), Brady Shaw (16-11-27), Colin Markison (9-16-25)

Team offense- 2.78 goals scored per game (28th)

Team defense- 2.22 goals allowed per game (12th)

Power play- 20% (16th)

Penalty kill- 88.5% (7th)

Shots on goal margin per game- + 4.75 (15th)

Keys for BC- 

1. Score the first goal. I think it will be a big crowd tomorrow night so get them involved early. If BC could ever get out to a multi goal advantage, it would become a David vs Goliath type matchup.

2. Power play. During the month of January, the PP was firing on all cylinders but right now, they are doing everything right but scoring. Hopefully they can get back on the board tomorrow.

3. What will the staff do with the first line? I am interested to see if they matchup Tuch's line with UVM's big guns or they decide to go with the second or third line. Last change should help.

Notes- Straight to third line, Calnan to second, Doherty still up front, I think Linell will dress but not sure if he will actually play.

Go Eagles !

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