By: Dan Shulman
Boston University vs. Boston College (Beanpot Final) February 8, 2016
ABOUT THE OPPONENTS – All-Time Series: BU leads 130–121–18
BOSTON UNIVERSITY: Location – Boston, MA; Mascot – Terriers; This Year’s Record – 16-7-4 (9-4-3 HEA), 1-0-1 on neutral ice; Fun Fact – BU has not beaten BC in the Beanpot since the 2007 Final (2-1 OT)
BOSTON COLLEGE: Location – Chestnut Hill, MA; Mascot – Eagles; This Year’s Record – 19-4-4 (11-1-4), 1-2-0 on neutral ice; Fun Fact – BC historically averages 3.588 goals per Beanpot Championship Game, second only to BU (4.16 GPG)
For the first time since 2012, Boston College and Boston University will face-off in the Beanpot Championship Game. The teams have already met twice this season, with BC winning the first game and tying the second in a mid-January home-and-home series.
BU is coming off a 6-3 win over UMass-Amherst at the Mullins Center on Friday night. The victory was the Terriers’ eighth in their last ten games.
BC has also dominated of late, capping off last week with a 4-3 win over New Hampshire at Conte Forum. The Eagles are unbeaten in their last nine contests since losing three straight games at the end of December.
This season, Boston University features an extremely balanced top three forward lines, each capable of controlling a game. In the game against Northeastern, BU’s third line of Ryan Cloonan, Bobo Carpenter, and Robbie Baillargeon were top performers. The trio has combined for 37 points this season (17G, 20A).
On defense, Brien Diffley has emerged as the definitive sixth blue-liner, and has rejoined Doyle Somerby, his partner from last year, on the third d-line. Despite only five points, Diffley is a two-way player who is smart on defense and quick in the offensive zone.
In net for BU should be Sean Maguire. The senior has become a contender for Hockey East Goaltender of the Year. His 2.28 GAA and .922 SV% are quickly increasing as the season reaches the postseason, and he has led BU to an incredible run in the second half of the season.
For the Eagles, Zach Sanford has had his performance shrouded by the emergence of freshman talent. Sanford has scored nine goals along with 19 assists this season. The sophomore has registered two short-handed goals and 65 shots on goal.
Defensively, Casey Fitzgerald has been spectacular in his freshman campaign. Scoring the opening goal against Harvard in the Beanpot semifinals, the first-year Eagle has three goals and 13 assists this season to go along with his +23 rating and 32 shots on goal.
In net will be Thatcher Demko for Boston College. The Eagles have gone through four backups this season, most recently dressing student manager Chuck van Kula behind Demko. But the junior from San Diego has not needed reinforcements during his 25 games, posting a .937 SV% and a 1.71 GAA with eight shutouts.
Puck drop is scheduled for approximately 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen on NESN and heard live on WTBU Radio.
Regardless of who wins, this game promises to be a spectacular championship. Boston College took three of four points from BU in Hockey East play this season, but both games could have easily swung the other way. For this game, the winner will be the team leading after first two periods, as it does not seem either team will give up the lead at that point by the way they have played this season.
THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
- Set the Tone
It is crucial to score first in this game. Both teams will have abundant fans at this game, and silencing the other team’s fans will be a huge momentum shift.
- Power Play
Both teams coincidentally operate at around 21% on the power play. With each team getting over 10 PIM per game, it will be important to capitalize on any man-up opportunity there is.
- Two Solid Goaltenders
Sean Maguire and Thatcher Demko looked stellar in their respective semifinals, and will look to replicate that performance. It is likely that the winning goalie will walk away with the Eberly Trophy. Demko has the statistical advantage, but Maguire is just hitting his stride. The goaltender matchup is intriguing and will dictate what could be a low-scoring game.