By: Dan Shulman
BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Boston College (Hockey East Semis) at TD Garden – Mar 17, 2017
ABOUT THE OPPONENT
Location – Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; Mascot – Eagles; This Year’s Record – 20-14-4 (13-6-3 HEA); 1-5-1 on neutral ice, BU leads all-time series 133-122-18; Fun Fact – BC has won nine Hockey East tournament titles in Jerry York’s tenure as BC Head Coach while BU has won six in that same span . . . last time BU won four times against BC was ’94-95 (Nat’l Championship) and last time BC missed the NCAA tournament was ’09 (BU Nat’l Championship).
In three games against BC this year, BU has earned three wins over their Comm. Ave. rival. Now, the Terriers look for victory number four over the Eagles, looking to beat BC four times in a season for the first time since 1994-95.
The Terriers swept the two-game regular season series against BC back in January, earning a 2-1 home win before a trio of power play goals sparked a 3-0 shutout in Chestnut Hill three nights later. In the Beanpot first round in February, again BU made its superiority known with a 3-1 win over the Eagles.
“All these streaks and how your power play has looked over the last few weeks doesn’t matter,” said BU Head Coach David Quinn. “How’s it going to look tomorrow night? At the end of the day, it’s how you play tomorrow night. We’re feeling good about going to the garden.”
The Beanpot loss set off a streak of seven consecutive games without a win for BC as they limped to the end of the season as joint Hockey East regular season champions with BU and UMass-Lowell. The Eagles have since rebounded, however, routing Vermont in the conference quarterfinals with 7-0 and 7-4 victories.
“[BC’s] pace was good [against Vermont],” said Coach Quinn. “We all go through some stretches, but to me all that stuff doesn’t matter.”
The Terriers have met a bit of a choppy stretch as well since its Beanpot win over BC, going 4-3-1 with three of those wins coming in their last three games. The Terriers battled a tough Northeastern team in the quarterfinals, falling behind early before earning consecutive 3-2 wins in overtime Friday and in the dying seconds on Saturday.
BU is looking to maintain its hot streak heading into the NCAA tournament while the Eagles would likely need to win the tournament title in order to earn a NCAA berth. The Terriers sit at sixth in the pairwise and pretty much a lock to make the big dance while the Eagles slipped to fifteenth and are in danger of missing out for the first time since 2009.
“That’s a product of winning,” said Coach Quinn. “We just want to win and whatever comes after that comes after that. We want to be as focused and as good as we possibly can no matter what it’s going to do to them.”
The Eagles are led offensively by a trio of talented seniors. Austin Cangelosi is the team’s leading scorer with 20 goals while Matthew Gaudreau paces the Eagles with 26 assists. Ryan Fitzgerald sits in fourth on the team with 28 points (9G, 19A) but is the top shooting Eagle with 122 SOG – the only BC player with over 100 shots this year.
On defense, fellow senior Scott Savage has scored just five goals this season but has 20 assists, eight of which have come on the power play. Savage netted his first career power play goal this season and has been on the ice for a team-best 43 goals. He is also second on the team with 43 blocked shots.
In net for BC, Joe Woll had a rough February but was otherwise sharp throughout his freshman season. Woll posted a 2.61 GAA and a .913 SV%. Since January 28, Woll has allowed three or more goals in nine of eleven games he played including last Saturday against Vermont.
Unlike the Eagles upperclassmen, BU features just three seniors with a combined seventeen points this season. Nick Roberto has 13 of those points and has provided a physical and playmaking element to the Terriers’ second line. Roberto scored for the first time in 19 games last weekend and is known to take hits in order to make plays – stats that don’t show up on the scoresheet.
“He’s a senior that’s well respected in the locker room,” said Coach Quinn. “He’s been consistent and physical, I like his effort, he’s been smart, and he’s been a good player. It’s nice to have a senior like that.”
Defensively, Brandon Hickey returned to the Terrier lineup after being sidelined for four games with a right leg injury. Hickey matched his career high in assists with 11 this year and is two points shy of tying his single-season best 17. He has also blocked 56 shots this season.
Between the pipes for BU will be Jake Oettinger. The fabulous freshman has a .928 SV% this season, just short of John Curry’s single season record of .929. He has a goals against average of 2.06 and is closing in on several other single season records such as GAA and minutes played.
Puck drop is set for approximately 8:05 p.m. and can be heard live on mixlr.com/wtbusports.
PREDICTION – BU wins
Boston University has proven they can beat BC three times this season including once on TD Garden Ice. The Eagles are simply too undisciplined and although they are desperate for a win, it looks as if the Terriers’ skill-set is too much for BC to handle.
BU’s THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
- Stay Disciplined
BU has gotten more disciplined as the season pressed on and has taken four or fewer penalties in each of its last five games (4-1-0). The Eagles, meanwhile, are a highly undisciplined team and took 13 penalties in the two games. If BU plays a disciplined game and lets the Eagles take penalties at the rate they do, the Terriers special teams will be the difference.
“They were humming on the power play [last weekend] so we’re going to have to stay out of the box,” said Coach Quinn.
- Defend the Net Front
Jake Oettinger has had a stellar freshman season for the Terriers but his defense has been known to let him down by vacating the net front area. BC has capitalized from this spot on both goals they scored against BU this year. Protecting the house is key for BU on Friday.
- Solid First Period
BU has been scored on first in its last eight games and has played generally flat in the first period all season long. BC is +21 in the first period and are relatively successful when grabbing the first goal. BU will need to shake the cobwebs off in warmups and play a sharp first period to have any chance at winning this game.