Boston College men’s hockey (18-4-4, 10-1-4 Hockey East) will be looking for another win against the University of New Hampshire (9-13-4, 3-7-4) on Friday night. Beating the Wildcats could give the Eagles the momentum they need to secure a win against Boston University in Monday night’s Beanpot championship game. After beating Notre Dame and Harvard, BC is back in the top spot in Hockey East, and No. 4 in the nation, according to the USCHO.com poll. UNH stands at the No. 10 spot in Hockey East. Statistics aren’t everything, however. BC will still need to work hard to be able to say it defeated UNH both times the teams met during the regular season. With only eight regular-season games left in the 2015-16 hockey year, head coach Jerry York and his players will want to finish strong.
While Wildcat goaltender Danny Tirone hasn’t had the best season—he is nowhere to be found on the list of the top 50 goaltenders—he was named the Hockey East defensive player of the week after saving 38 of 40 shots in a game against Providence. This will mean that the Eagles can’t take the goalie for granted, as he seems to have improved since the last time the two teams met, when the Eagles placed five goals past him. An improved goalie, as well as the nation’s No. 2 and No. 4 top scorers on the roster means UNH is a force to be reckoned with, despite its less than stellar season record.
Quite opposite from Tirone, BC goaltender Thatcher Demko recently obtained his eighth shutout in a season against Notre Dame, tying the program record. After letting in two goals against Harvard in the Beanpot, Demko will be looking for his ninth shutout in the regular season. If the Eagles play their cards right, this feat is easily obtainable against a team like UNH.
Last time they played:
The Eagles pulled off a 6-3 win over UNH when the two teams met earlier this year, but it wasn’t a pretty game. Full of dirty penalties and rough play, the Eagles lost junior forward Chris Calnan to an upper body injury. Many of both teams’ goals were scored during power plays or penalty kills, which is no surprise, since UNH is listed as the No. 6 team for taking advantage of power plays. In the final minutes of the game, BC let the Wildcats waltz past the defense and score a goal, but Miles Wood quickly responded with a goal of his own, finishing the game with a solid lead.
Three keys to the game:
- Limit the penalties: BC still stands at No. 1 in the nation for number of penalty minutes in a game, and absolutely cannot afford any penalties against the No. 6 power-play team. Wildcats players Dan Corrale and Andrew Poturalski hold the No. 2 and No. 4 spots, respectively, in the nation for the number of goals scored on a power play. If it hopes to keep a comfortable lead against UNH, BC will not be able to receive its average of 15 penalty minutes per game. This means clean play, unimpulsive post-play reactions, and hard work from the men.
- Solid defense: With UNH holding the No. 2 and 4 top scorers in the league, BC will need to make sure it has solid defense. Players like Ian McCoshen and Casey Fitzgerald will need to keep up their ability to block shots and shut down the top scorers. Goalie Thatcher Demko will need all the help he can get from the two men skating in front of him if he hopes for another shutout, which would break the program record.
- Shut down Poturalski: Sophomore forward Andrew Poturalski is the No. 2 scorer in the league. He is also the No. 4 scorer on power plays, which UNH will see a lot of if BC doesn’t limit the amount of time it spends in the box. If the Eagles can hold Poturalski to a limited number of shots on goal, they will have a much better chance at taking home a win, as well as getting Demko his record-breaking shutout number nine.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor