By: Dan Shulman
Men’s Ice Hockey: Boston College vs. Providence (Hockey East at Frozen Fenway) January 7, 2016
ABOUT BOSTON COLLEGE
Location – Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; Mascot – Eagles; This Year’s Record – 13-7-2 (8-1-1 HEA), 8-6-1 away from Conte Forum; Fun Fact – BC had five players in the World Junior Championships
Location – Providence, Rhode Island; Mascot – Friars; This Year’s Record 8-6-4 (1-4-2 HEA), 3-4-1 away from Schneider Arena; Fun Fact – Providence won the 2015 National Championship over Boston University.
ALL-TIME SERIES: BC Leads 113-47-14
The Boston College Eagles men’s hockey team will complete its season series with the Providence Friars in the nightcap on day two of Frozen Fenway on Saturday.
In their first battle of the season on October 28 at BC, the Eagles outlasted the Friars in a 3-1 thriller. Knotted at 1-1 after 20 minutes, Matthew Gaudreau scored the eventual game winner just 59 seconds into the middle frame. Ron Greco added a late third period goal to seal the victory for BC.
The Eagles will finally have five members of the team return to the lineup following the conclusion of the World Junior Championships. Joe Woll, Casey Fitzgerald, Colin White, Jesper Mattila, and Julius Mattila all took part in the annual Under-20 tournament last week.
Due to the absences, BC played an incomplete lineup last weekend at the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh. Quinnipiac thwarted the Eagles, 3-1, in the tournament opener. In the consolation game, Ferris State freshman goaltender Justin Kapelmaster turned aside 58 of 59 Eagle shots to secure a 1-1 tie for the Bulldogs.
Offensively, BC has seen tremendous production sophomore Chris Brown. The Buffalo Sabres prospect is second on the team with 18 points (6G, 12A) and a +11 rating to go along with his team leading 59 shots on goal.
On defense, sophomore Michael Kim earned all-tournament team honors last weekend in Pittsburgh. He is +12 this season with two goals and 11 assists. His 10 PIM is one of the lowest on the team.
In net for the Eagles, Joseph Woll has been a rock for much of the season. In 17 games, Woll boasts a .917 save percentage and a 2.51 GAA. Fellow freshman Ryan Edquist has seen a decent share of time for an Eagles’ backup and has made the most of it. Edquist’s .930 SV% and 1.89 GAA makes him a worthy candidate between the pipes for BC as well.
Providence, meanwhile, carries momentum into this weekend following a tie and a win over top-ranked Denver last weekend. The Friars saw a pair of one-goal leads disintegrate on Friday night in a 2-2 tie. The following afternoon, Providence thoroughly dominated from start to finish, polishing off the Pioneers, 3-1.
The Friars leading scorer is sophomore Erik Foley. The Mansfield, Massachusetts-native will play his first game since returning from the World Junior Championships on Saturday. With seven goals and eight assists, the big-body forward provides a scoring threat as well as a physical advantage over opponents.
On defense, former All-American Jake Walman continues to produce on the blue-line. Leading the team in shots on goal with 68, Walman has 14 points, is a +1, and is a prolific contributor to the potent Providence power-play.
In net, Hayden Hawkey has proven to be a worthy replacement to the departed Nick Ellis. The Montreal draft-choice has posted a .908 SV% and a 2.30 GAA over all 18 Friars’ contests this season. Hawkey has been in goal for all goaltending minutes save 8:21 of empty-net time.
Puck drop is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at Fenway. The Friars will be officially recognized as the home team for this game.
PREDICTION – Boston College wins
The Eagles have owned the Friars for the past couple years and without having to play at Schneider Arena, BC should walk away victorious. It will be a tough, hard-fought game but in the end the Eagles should prevail.
KEYS TO THE GAME
BC – Stay Disciplined: The Eagles average an astounding 16.7 PIM per game this season. The penalty kill isn’t where it was last year, only operating at 82.1% this season. Penalties have proven to be BC’s downfall this season and they’ll need to stay disciplined against a stingy Providence team.
PC – Continue First Period Dominance: The Friars have outscored opponents 19-7 over the first 20 minutes of games and are 7-2-1 when leading after a period. Especially against a team like BC, it is imperative for the Friars to set the tone early.