Men’s Ice Hockey: Green Line Rivalry Renewed

BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Boston College (Hockey East) January 15-16, 2016

ABOUT THE OPPONENT

Location – Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; Mascot – Eagles; This Year’s Record – 14-4-2 (7-1-2 Hockey East), 8-1-1 at home, 267 all-time meetings, BU leads 130-120-17; Fun Fact – BC’s Colin White and BU’s Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Fortunato were all on Team USA during the recent IIHF World Junior Championships in Finland.

PREGAME PODCAST: LISTEN HERE

PREVIEW

The Battle of Commonwealth Avenue will be renewed this weekend as the Boston University Terriers take on the Boston College Eagles in a home-and-home series.

The Terriers have come out of the gate in the second half looking impressive after earning a 6-5 comeback victory over Harvard and a 7-2 win over Massachusetts last weekend. Captain Matt Grzelcyk returned from injury and scored four goals in those two games.

The Eagles, after losing three straight games to end the first half of the season, earned three of four points in their first two league games of the second semester last weekend; winning 7-3 and tying 4-4 against Providence last weekend.

This is the only scheduled meeting of the two teams this season. Last year, BU and BC split the season series, with each team earning a victory on the road.

Boston College has been led this season by freshman Colin White and junior Ryan Fitzgerald. White has excelled in his rookie season, scoring 11 goals and leading the Eagles with 16 assists. Fitzgerald is BC’s scoring leader with 12 goals, also registering 14 assists on the season.

On defense, Teddy Doherty has been stellar this season, recording 15 points while only taking 8 PIM. Doherty has also earned a +5 rating this season.

In goal, starter Thatcher Demko still appears to be sidelined with an upper-body injury. Demko had recorded six shutouts in 18 games this season before the injury. Replacing Demko is newly acquired freshman Ian Milosz. The 6’7” net-minder debuted last weekend, allowing seven goals in two games and posting a .899 SV5 along with a 3.37 GAA.

On the other side of the ice, Boston University has enjoyed a balanced offensive output, with each of the top two lines finding success this season. However, the story on Saturday was the performance of the third line.

Bobo Carpenter and Robbie Baillargeon both found the back of the net, and have combined for 18 points this season. Nikolas Olsson returned from injury last weekend and recorded an assist on Saturday for just his fourth point of the season.

Defensively, Charlie McAvoy registered three assists and was a +6 last weekend for BU. His 11 points on the season put him seventh on the team in scoring.

In net for BU, Sean Maguire has started the last three games for BU dating back to December 12, and has won all three. His .899 SV% and 2.70 GAA are still deflated from his early season struggles, as Maguire has improved over the course of the season.

Faceoff Friday at Conte Forum is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and for 7:00 p.m. for the series finale on Saturday at Agganis Arena.

PREDICTION

BC Coach Jerry York sits two wins shy of his 1000th career victory, and boy would the Eagles love to get that against BU. However, the milestone seems unlikely. With goaltender Thatcher Demko’s status up in the air, the Eagles may be forced to go with freshman Ian Milosz. Despite his 1-0-1 record against Providence, his stats were poor and BC had an easy time getting past the Friars’ Swiss-cheese defense. If the Eagles can’t outscore BU this weekend, York will have to wait another weekend to reach 1000.

BU’s FOUR KEYS TO THE GAME

  1. Strong Defensive Posture

The Eagles didn’t stop Providence, they just outscored them over the weekend. The Terriers’ defense needs to be in top form against a BC team riding momentum.

  1. Test Ian Milosz

The freshman has a terrible stat line and has yet to really be tested. BU needs to get a continuous stream of shots on goal in order to test the rookie goalie.

UPDATE: With Thatcher Demko expected to be ready, it will be crucial for BU to test him right away. He lost his last three starts and it may take some time to shake off the rust.

  1. Play a 60 Minute, Physical Game

Last season, the Eagles shut down BU using physicality. This year, BU has shown its fair share of physical play. In order to beat BC, the Terriers must come out strong and play a full 60-minutes, winning in all aspects of the game including physical play.

  1. Control Special Teams

The Eagles average an astronomic 18.1 PIM per game. Boasting the nation’s eight best penalty kill at 87.2%, it is important for BU to stay disciplined and make BC pay for their costly penalties.

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