Thursday, October 22, 2015

Colorado College Preview

For the first time since 1988, Boston College will travel to Colorado Springs to take on a Colorado College team that handed the program perhaps the most devastating loss in it's history. Even if BC won both games this weekend by a combined score of 20-0, it would not makeup for the stunning upset suffered at the hands of the Tigers in the 2011 NCAA West regional semifinals. Since that game, the programs have gone in opposite directions. The Eagles followed it up with a National Title in 2012 while the Tigers have not made the tournament since that dreadful game. In fact, CC fired head coach Scott Owens after the 2014 season. They hired former Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland to help take the program back to it's glory days. In a little over a year at the helm, Haviland has yet to have any on ice success but one can certainly tell that his teams play harder and their staff's efforts on the recruiting trail have been well received throughout the college hockey world.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, they're 0-4 on the season, with each loss coming against a Hockey East opponent. They were swept by UMass on opening weekend at home and they followed that up with two more L's at UMass-Lowell last weekend. CC returns 4 of it's top 6 scorers from a season ago. Like BC, their top defenseman, Jaccob Slavin, left early to sign with the Carolina Hurricanes. Leading the black and gold up front will be the Bradley brothers, Trey and Cody, the former is the leading scorer on this year's squad while the latter was the team leader in points last season. Eight freshmen have seen the ice in three or more games for Haviland's team but that does not include goaltender Jacob Nehama, who recorded 53 saves on Saturday versus Lowell. The Tigers have 14 freshmen in total. Junior Tyler Marble, the same guy who played vs BC last season, got the nod in the second game vs the River Hawks, stopping 22 of 24 shots. Although their record may not be great, it is clear that CC has improved in every game since their opener. After getting blown out in game one vs UMass, the Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 advantage on Saturday but were not able to sustain the lead in the third period. They allowed 29 less shots in their second game vs Lowell compared to the first game. With limited offensive skill and a young defensive core, CC will almost certainly employ some version of the trap tomorrow night versus the high powered Eagles. I am interested to see who they start in goal because it appears that it would be Nehama's turn but Marble is the more experienced guy and as we saw with Jason Kasdorf of RPI, a seasoned goalie can go a long way in helping you bring down the top offense in college hockey.

The big change for the Eagles comes on the top two lines. Jeremy Bracco will now play with former NTDP teammate Colin White and Ryan Fitzgerald while Adam Gilmour will be reunited with Zach Sanford and Alex Tuch, BC's top trio from a season ago. BC's best line of Wood-Cangelosi-Calnan  will remain intact, as will the much improved fourth line. I like the moves because I think it will benefit both Gilmour and Bracco to be with guys that they have had success with before. The staff believes it will take time for Zach Sanford to fully adjust to his new role as first line center because he's always been a winger but it remains to be seen whether they make a switch and go with Gilmour as center and Sanford back at left wing. Either way, expect more offense tomorrow night. Nothing to report on the defensive side of things, everyone should be a full go.

I feel like I say this every game but everybody knows how much Colorado College has on the line this weekend. It's the biggest series they've hosted in years and they're trying to salvage their season because if they start off 0-6, they're going nowhere. I expect the crowd to be jammed packed and fired up, especially if the home team can get off to a good start tomorrow night.

Scouting CC- 

Record- 0-4

Leading Scorers- Trey Bradley (3-1-4), Temmu Kivihalme (1-3-4), Sam Rothstein (0-3-3)

Team offense- 2.25 goals scored per game (37th)

Team defense- 3.75 goals allowed per game (43rd)

Power play- 22% (14th)

Penalty kill- 71% (45th)

Shots on goal per game- 33 shots per game (17th)

Keys for BC- 

1. Solve the trap. This will be the first time BC plays a team that is really dedicated to just dumping the puck in the zone and hanging back all game. It threw them off at times last year but obviously, they didn't have the speed this Eagle team has.

2. Take the crowd out of it early. I think a big reason why we lost to RPI was due to them scoring the first goal and capitalizing on that momentum early in the third period. BC is a much better team when they score the first goal.

All time series- Boston College leads 13-5-1, 6-2-1 all time in Colorado Springs.

Note- CC just lost Garrett Cecere, one of their top defensemen, to juniors this past week

Off to Denver in the morning. Go Eagles.

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