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Boston College Preview

Massachusetts Minutemen 1-1-1 (0-1-1-) Hockey East 7th

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#2 Boston College 3-1-0 (1-0-0) Hockey East 3rd

This early season game against the Eagles will be an interesting look at how this Minuteman team matches up against one of the game’s elite teams. Against middle of the pack teams UMass had mixed success, going 1-1-0. But this will be the first true test to see how the reacts and adjusts when facing some of the best talent in college.

There are two questions I’m eager to see answered. First, UMass has gotten off to a great start to the season offensively, mostly led by the top line of Danny Hobbs, T.J. Syner, and Mike Pereira which has scored 7 of the team’s 12 goals.  Through three games the team is averaging 4 goals a game, which compared to recent UMass history is unheard of.  In addition, the power play has done very well, converting at a 21% clip, good for 2nd among Hockey East teams.  But the newfound offense will have quite a challenge in front of them tomorrow.  BC may boast the best group of defensemen in all of college hockey.  The Eagle blueline can lay claim to four NHL draft picks and the two that aren’t, Ed Shea and Patch Alber, have been pretty dependable through their careers on the Heights in their own rights.  Brian Dumoulin just may be the best defensemen in the league.  And so far the Eagle defense, combined with Parker Milner, who goes from reliable backup to starter, have let in just 2.25 goals so far this season.  When in the crease Milner has allowed just over 2 goals a game.

The second question for UMass is, of course, how will the goaltending fare.  I will be utterly floored if Jeff Teglia doesn’t get the start tomorrow.  While not tested too much, he looked solid in relief of Kevin Boyle at Providence and saved all eight shots he faced.  Playing on the road against a top team is a challenge for any goaltender, but considering he already has games at Minnesota, at Wisconsin, at Boston University, and at UNH under his belt, he may already feel comfortable in such environments.  It wouldn’t hurt to get some help from his defense, which has looked up and down so far on the season.  I would say overall they look slightly better than last year, which is to be expected since most have returned and are a year older.  But they just have to make sure they’re focused every shift.  Have two or three off shifts against BC and you’ll find you’re suddenly down two or three goals.  BC may have lost some scoring last year, but they are still extremely dangerous.  And what’s scary is that not only is Chris Kreider putting up points from them, but they’ve gotten great production from their younger guys like sophomore Billy Arnold and John Gaudreau, who is an early favorite to be Hockey East Newcomer of the Year.

So on paper, BC should roll right?  Well you would’ve thought as much last year, and certainly on paper, it looked like it as BC went 5-0.  But the games were competitive.  After getting pounded in the first game between the teams 5-0, UMass played BC much closer in the last two regular season games, losing 4-3 and 2-1.  In the playoffs UMass again challenged BC and lost 4-1 (in a game that was much closer than the final score), and 4-2 (ENG).  While BC was obviously the more talented team last year, UMass did not play like they were intimidated by them.  A year older, hopefully they can take that next step and actually challenge them for the outcome of the game.

Beer The Triangle
Pregame will likely be spent at Cityside in Cleveland Circle, a nice bar with great food and a serviceable beer menu.  But if UMass can pull off the win you can bet you’ll find me down the street at American Craft or Publick House afterward for a celebration that will carry over to the tailgating activities planned for the next day at Gillette for the Colonial Clash.

Per his Twitter account, it appears that Eddie Olcyzk is injured and will not dress tomorrow.  In better news, Steve Mastalerz was due to begin skating today.

The BC student paper previews tomorrow’s game.

Dick Baker details UMass’ need to get better at faceoffs.

Stephen Werner will represent the US in yet another international competition.  This time it’s the Deutchland Cup.  Good to see Werner back at the top of his game after battling concussion problems in the past few years.

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