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Boston College Preview

#14 Boston College Eagles 14-8-2, (Hockey East 10-6-2 T-2nd)
at
#15 Massachusetts Minutemen 16-10-0, (Hockey East 11-8-0 T-2nd)  

Official Boston College Hockey Site

What a way to start February in Hockey East.  Here we have the #14 and #15 teams in the country, both tied for second place in the conference meeting in a sold out Mullins Center broadcast to a NESN TV audience.  If you can’t get pumped up for this game, well then you just do not enjoy college hockey.  For UMass these are two huge points.  Not only will they surge ahead of BC and grab second place all by themselves with a win but it will give them a chance to take the season series and all important tie-breaker when the teams meet at Conte Forum later this month.

Boston College is coming off a 6-0 spanking of Harvard in the first round of the Beanpot this past Monday.  Though Harvard is pretty bad this year, the result was still impressive.  And I think I’m more impressed by the shutout than putting a half dozen goals up on the TD Bank jumbotron.  The Eagles were able to keep the Crimson off the board even though they were playing with four defensemen the entire game.  With both Patrick Wey and Tommy Cross out, as they’ll likely be tonight, the rest of the defensive corps and John Muse were able to step up their game and still got a dominating win.

Even if the BC defense does happen to falter due to missing players, their high powered offense will still give them a good chance to win.  Coming into tonight’s game they are tied with Maine for the top scoring offense in the league with 3.67 goals per game, about a half a goal more than the Minutemen.  Sophomore Cam Atkinson has been the most dangerous scorer for the Eagles with 16 goals in 24 games, two of those coming against UMass in the earlier meeting of these teams.  Ben Smith and Brian Gibbons are the two other forwards with double digits in goals.  Keep an eye on BC’s impressive freshmen forwards of Chris Kreider, Steve Whitney, and Pat Mullane, all capable of impacting the game result.

The absence of Cross and Wey leave a depleted and inexperienced defense that still has enough talent to keep teams off the board.  Carl Sneep is the lone upperclassmen on the blueline while sophomore Ed Shea (brother of UMass recruit Colin Shea) does have a year under his belt.  Beyond that freshmen Phillip Samuelsson and Brian Dumoulin will have to have big games for the Eagles.  In net John Muse is returning to the form of his freshman year when he backstopped the Eagles to the national championship.  So far on the season he has posted a 2.47 goals against average, 2nd best among Hockey East goaltenders.

Obviously if UMass is able to take advantage of BC’s thinness at defense they’ll dramatically increase their odds of winning.  The blueliners out there may be inexperienced, but remember that BC had arguably the best incoming class this year, so they certainly have skill.  If Jerry York chooses to primarily stick with just four defensemen it’ll be imperative for Toot to open things up on offense for the Minutemen.  UMass has speed and having the BC defense chase them all over the ice will wear them down and lead to mistakes.  They cannot play conservative tonight.  I say let the boys skate, feed off the noise made by the record crowd, and see what happens.  It should be a great game, I hope you already have your ticket.

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Dick Baker’s game preview in the Republican features Eddie Olczyk, fresh off scoring his first collegiate goal.

Matt Vautour has the injury update.  Danny Hobbs will be a gametime decision.  Unfortunately Doug Kublin will not make it back for tonight.  It’s easy to overlook his constant contributions until he’s missing.  Matty V also has quotes from Paul Dainton saying that he enjoys playing against Muse since the two are friends and train together.  Ironically if Muse doesn’t choose BC over UMass (Harvard was also in the mix) then Dainton never comes to Western Mass.

The Collegian has a couple of stories on tonight’s game.  The first focuses on the long term importance of the matchup while the second talks about the parity among Hockey East this year as well as what Paul Dainton may expect tonight. 

The weekly USCHO Hockey East column has a feature on the UMass team.  Of course they then go on to predict a loss for the Minutemen tonight.  That’s exactly how I like it.

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James Marcou stays atop the Inside Hockey Hobey Watch.

The Williams College hockey team is collecting donations for every goal scored this season for Peter Trovato’s Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund.  Go Ephs!

Here’s another article on Scott Crowder’s Pond Hockey Classic which takes place this weekend.

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3 Comments

  1. justin

     /  February 5, 2010

    Agree 100% on opening it up tonight. BC is very skilled (again, my pre-season pick to take the league), but I think we can skate with them. This game could come down to ‘tending (don’t they all though?), which will be interesting. I think BC is probably the (slightly) better team, but I’m hoping home ice comes through big tonight.

    I’ll be in class all game, so feel free to put some ‘color’ into your tweets 😀

    Like

    • The more color I put in my tweets the more of the actual game I miss while looking at my iphone.

      I would say all things being equal that BC is definitely the better team, even with their youth. But I think their injuries on defense levels the playing field, contingent upon Rowe and Kessler continuing their solid play in Kublin’s absence.

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      • Ryan

         /  February 5, 2010

        Muse is the anchor of the BC’s defense, with or without guys like Tommy Cross in the lineup. I’ve been impressed with Cam Atkinson this year, he isn’t exactly Gerbe but he gets the job done.

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