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Boston College Preview

#3 Boston College Eagles 0-1-0 (0-1-0) Hockey East T-5th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 1-0-0 (0-0-0) Hockey East T-5th

Massachusetts will start the 2012-13 season against the team that gave them their highest of highs and lowest of lows in the last season.  The highs were the win over then #1 Boston College in November and a shutout of the Eagles in January.  The low was the same low we’ve seen for the last three years, with the season ending at the hands of BC sweep in Chestnut Hill in the Hockey East quarterfinals.

Surprisingly the Minutemen have a win to their name to start the season while the Eagles do not, having fallen to Northeastern 3-1 last weekend. BC spotted Northeastern a 2-0 lead early and couldn’t solve Chris Rawlings enough to get back in it, despite outshooting Northeastern overall.  One thing that stands out is that the Eagles must’ve spent a lot of time on the penalty kill as they took 8 penalties and gave the Huskies seven power plays, though they killed all seven.

BC’s lone goal in the game came from senior Steven Whitney.  He’s one of many experienced upperclassman forwards that can score for the Eagles, along with captain Pat Mullane, Kevin Hayes, and Bill Arnold.  But a lot of eyes this season will be on sophomore Johnny Gaudreau to see how he builds off the 21 goal, 23 assist performance as a freshman.  Gaudreau did get an assist last weekend.  Most of BC’s freshman talent is at defense this year but Brendan Silk out of the US National Development Program is someone to keep an eye on.

The Eagles will likely get as far as their defense takes them this year as it’s really the weakest area for them, if having young, but very skilled players can be considered a weakness.  Michael Matheson and Colin Sullivan are two blueline freshmen who will need to make the adjustment to the college level quickly if BC wants to stay ranked among the top teams in the country early on.  They do return a couple experienced defensemen that UMass will have to contend with in Patrick Wey and Patch Alber.  At goaltender the team returns Parker Milner who rattled off 19 wins in 19 straight games last spring cumulating with the national championship.

Last weekend’s game against UConn gave UMass fans a lot to like, like Kevin Boyle allowing just one goal, a strong performance by the defense, and putting up four goals.  But there was some stuff to work on too, namely the amount of penalties and the inability to finish shots.  Playing an Atlantic Hockey team allowed UMass to make up for some sloppy play at times and still get the win.  It’s unlikely that extended times of poor play will allow them to be victorious when playing a top five team in the country though.

Overall I thought the lines worked pretty well last week.  I’d be surprised if there were a lot of lineup changes tomorrow.  Darren Rowe played well enough on both ends that he’ll likely dress for that 6th spot at defense again.  Maybe Boyle will play two weeks in a row, but something tells me he won’t.  Personally I’d like to see how Steve Mastalerz does in there, if healthy.  He had probably the best goaltending performance of the season last year when he shut out this same BC program in January, only one of two goaltenders to keep the Eagles off the scoreboard all year.

The teams have changed somewhat since last year, but I took a look back at the five games they played and here’s what I found.  Honestly, there weren’t too many patterns to be gleaned from them.  UMass was outshot in both their wins (averaging just 21 shots total) but lost the two games where they had the shot advantage.  They won the two games despite going 1 for 12 on the power play and also went 1 for 12 in total during the three games they lost.  They gave up multiple power play goals in both wins and losses.  Basically, there’s no statistical pattern I can find between the losses and the wins.

Tomorrow will be a big challenge for the Minutemen and the new coaching staff.  You almost wish that the Eagles were coming in here after having beaten Northeastern.  Instead Coach York has had all week to make adjustments and coach up his freshmen.  So UMass must make the most out of the advantages they’re afforded.  One of those is likely to be a large and hopefully charged up Mullins Center crowd.  The Minutemen will have to do their best to feed off the energy of the fans.  Combine that with proven knowledge they can beat this team, as they did twice last year, and the desire for some revenge at how last season ended and you just might have the makings for an upset.

Beer The Triangle
It’ll be a muted Beer The Triangle day tomorrow as time at the Hangar will be limited due to the doors opening at 5:30pm for the game.  Postgame is out of the question as well with a 9am Homecoming tailgate at Gillette the next morning.  I’m interested to see what will be on tap at the Hangar in the place of the Sierra Beer Camps that are likely kicked.  A Lagunitas Pale Ale isn’t a bad fallback just in case though.

Beating Milner is key tomorrow so says the Collegian.

The Republican preview says Coach Mick is thinking big picture.

The Gazette has their BC preview as well as the details of Micheletto’s contract.  His base salary will be $210K with the ability to make another $58K if he reaches all his bonuses that range from APR scores to winning the national championship.  Former coach Toot Cahoon had a base salary of $247K and received about $4K in bonuses in 2011.

College Hockey News takes a look at the weekend ahead in Hockey East.

Missed this last week but Inside College Hockey picked UMass to finish dead last this season.

Last week I mentioned that I was growing increasingly frustrated with people posting comments, especially critical ones, anonymously and had hoped that requiring people to post their name and submit their email would put an end to that.  Nope.  So starting today in order to post comments you’ll need to use your Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress account to log in.  I didn’t want to do this and still would love to have people use the site to discuss the hockey program and FTT posts within the comment sections.  But hopefully now that discussion will be of a little higher quality.

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