Sunday, January 31, 2016
Ted Donato's squad is one of the best offensive teams in the country and they will be led by superstar forward Jimmy Vesey. The Belmont Hill product is second in the country in terms of points per game with 1.68. Aiding the Nashville draft pick will be fellow senior Kyle Crisuolo and talented junior Alexander Kerfoot. Outside of perhaps the Motte-Compher-Connor line out at Michigan, Harvard's top trio is the best in country and they will be handful for BC's stingy defense. While they are a deep team up front, the Crimson live and die off the success of their top three players, particularly Vesey, who is one of those guys you have to keep an eye on every time he is on the ice. As I just alluded to, Harvard has a lot of talent at forward, they're probably the only team in the country that can roll three legit scoring lines outside of Boston College. Their second line will consist of Luke Esposito, Sean Malone, and Colin Blackwell, all dangerous scoring threats in their own rights. Blackwell is one of those guys I have always been impressed with, even though he has had terrible luck with injuries over his four years in Cambridge. He doesn't jump out at you with his size but his speed and stick skills seem to have an impact on every game for Donato's team. When I look at Harvard, obviously their offensive firepower stands out and it will win them a lot of games this season. However, they are not nearly as deep on the backend or in goal, where Donato has rotated goalies for a good portion of the season. They don't have one "dominant" defenseman, I mean, Jaw and Bergin are big kids that can throw the body around but they have not yet played against the type of speed they will see tomorrow night. Sophomore Merrick Madsen will make his Beanpot debut against the Eagles. The California native has posted solid numbers up to this point, recording a 1.85 goals against average and .936 save percentage in just 15 games played. The one thing I noticed from watching Harvard is they tend to turn every game into a track meet- they want to play as fast as possible and against good teams, it has led to a lot of goals and defensive breakdowns. For example, they blew a two goal third period lead against BU a month ago and gave up a combined 9 goals in their two meetings with #1 Qunnipiac.
I say this everyday and you are probably sick of hearing it but BC will not win this game if they give Harvard a power play every five minutes. Not only do the Crimson have the #3 power play in the country, they have a first unit that is as deadly as I've seen. BC has been solid on the penalty kill, but, this is a different beast. I would be willing to bet that whichever team takes more penalties is the team that will come out on the losing end because in this tournament, power plays seem to swing momentum in a matter of seconds. BC cannot run around taking boneheaded penalties against a team of this caliber.
No matter what happens, I think this will be an unreal game between, in my opinion, the two best teams in college hockey. BC got some good news last week when awarded last change which means the staff can put McCoshen out there against Vesey and company. I don't think they will do this often but they could pair Santini with McCoshen at certain points in the game to try and stop that line. In terms of forwards, I would be shocked if Cangelosi, Wood, and Gilmour don't get a chance to go against the Hobey Baker favorite- the staff has had them out against opponents' top lines all season. Hopefully Chris Calnan will be back after suffering a lower body injury because if he is able to go, the staff can put the fourth line out there to match up with Harvard's bottom unit.
Record- 12-4-3 (5th in pairwise)
Top scorers- Jimmy Vesey (16-16-32), Alex Kerfoot (4-20-24), Kyle Criscuolo (14-7-21)
Team offense- 3.84 goals scored per game (6th)
Team defense- 2.32 goals allowed per game (15th)
Power play- 32% (2nd)
Penalty kill- 85% (10th)
Shots on goal per game- 31.92 (18th)
Keys for BC-
1. Have to stay out of the box. I could copy and paste this 1,000 more times. They cannot give these guys more than three or four chances on the man advantage or they will be in big trouble.
2. Attack Harvard's defenseman. While Vesey could pose problems for the maroon and gold, BC's top three lines could wreck havoc on Harvard's relatively weak blue line. Get pucks to the net on this first time Beanpot starter and see what he's got.
3. An early lead will get Harvard out of synch. If the Crimson go down a couple goals early in the game, they will pull the kitchen sink and that could lead to a boatload of odd man rushes for BC.
Notes- BC is still banged up but everyone should be a go. I would be surprised if Calnan is out again.