Saturday, November 28, 2015

RIT Preview

For the second straight season, Boston College will face-off against the RIT as Wayne Wilson's squad makes its first ever trip to Chestnut Hill. Last year, BC defeated the Tigers 6-2 at the Brick City Homecoming in front of 11,000 rowdy fans. The only other meeting between the two teams was at the 2007 Dodge Holiday Classic in Minneapolis- BC won that game as well. There is a bit of a unique connection surrounding tomorrow's contest between Coaches York and Wilson as the latter helped land the former his first national title in 1984 while at Bowling Green. RIT assistant, Brian Hills, also played for Coach York at Bowling Green.

The Tigers enter the matchup on a bit of a down note after getting swept at home versus Bentley last weekend in a pair of overtime battles. The only common opponent between the two squads is Army, whom RIT defeated and then tied up at West Point earlier this month. The Eagles demolished the Black Knights 5-1 on opening night. Overall, RIT is 3-6-2 on the season with their only wins coming against Army and AIC (x2). They lost two of their top three scorers from a season ago in seniors Matt Garbowsky and Brad McGowan but they do return their entire blue line. In net, junior Mike Rotolo has garnered the majority of the starts but freshman Christian Short has been battling for the starting job, getting four starts of his own. There may not be a more drastic contrast between any two teams in the country than BC and RIT. The Eagles are young and like to play as fast as possible while the Tigers are old and favor a trap like style of play, similar to Merrimack. They recruit from totally different ends of the spectrum as 90% of BC's team has some sort of experience in the USHL while RIT has just three players that hail from that league. The majority of RIT's roster consist of guys from the CCHL, AJHL, and OJHL. Over the past few years, more and more college hockey teams have attempted to land veteran players from these leagues. It's ironic that these two teams are meeting this week as College Hockey News came out with a report on Tuesday sighting a bill voted on by Big Ten coaches that would lower the incoming freshman age from 21 to 20. RIT is the fifth oldest team in the country with an average of 22 years 6 months while BC is the youngest at 20 years 6 months. By my count, RIT has two freshmen that are either already 21 or will turn that age within the next month. For comparisons sake, Ian McCoshen, a junior, just turned twenty this past summer.

After a blowout win at UConn on Tuesday, BC is off to their best start ever under Coach York at 11-1. They will likely be without forwards Brendan Silk and Chris Calnan, both of whom are suffering from shoulder injuries. It will be interesting to see if the staff continues to roll just three lines because it appeared to me that some guys were worn out in the third period vs the Huskies. The best case scenario is that they get out to a big lead so they can play everybody but even when they were up 4-0 on Tuesday, the fourth line never saw any ice time. BC might have a difficult time creating odd man rushes because RIT will likely send in just one forechecker while keeping everybody else in-between the blue lines. Look for them to try to take away the long outlet passes BC has used (very effectively) all season long. The best way for the Eagles to throw these guys off their game would be to forecheck at a daunting pace which should lead to multiple turnovers. If the Eagles get off to a good start, then their opponents will be forced to come out of their shell and play at a more dangerous level.

We all know what happened the last time BC played an Atlantic Hockey team the weekend after Thanksgiving. No matter how good the Eagles may be, there are no gimmies in college hockey these days so they need to be ready to go. A loss at home to RIT would be a pairwise killer that could affect where they end up in March.

Scouting RIT- 

Record- 3-6-2 (51st in pairwise)

Top scorers- Mark Goldberg (2-9-11), Josh Mitchell (1-6-7), Greg Amlong (5-2-7)

Team offense- 2.55 goals scorer per game (T-36th)

Team defense- 3.08 goals against per game (44th)

Power play- 17.4% (32nd)

Penalty kill- 80% (T-36th)

Shots on goal per game 34.18 shots per game (11th)

Keys for the Eagles 

1. Get out to an early lead so RIT is forced to come out of their defensive cocoon. If BC can get the Tigers to play at a higher speed throughout the night, then the maroon and gold should be able to score their share of goals.

2. No stupid penalties. They did a very good job of this on Tuesday night. Hopefully it carries over to this afternoon.

3. Try to play a full sixty minutes. I think it may be a tad unrealistic to believe that they will play an entire game like the first period vs UConn but if they can skate like that for more than twenty minutes, they'll win a ton of hockey games.

All time series- BC leads 2-0

Go Eagles

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