Previewing BC Hockey: What to Expect From Merrimack

BC hockey

One year after suffering a brutal 3-2 defeat against Northeastern in the Beanpot semifinals last year, Boston College came roaring back in 2016. Men’s hockey bombarded the Terriers early, hung tight when they couldn’t score, and eventually finished with the first-ever 1-0 Beanpot win. And after celebrating Monday night, they got the chance to watch their counterparts take down Northeastern in the women’s final.

Overall, not a bad week for the program. But now the Eagles have to move on.

Coming up, they’ll have three two-game sets against Hockey East opponents before the conference tournament kicks off in March. BC (20-4-4, 11-1-4 Hockey East) begins with a home-and-home against Merrimack (8-14-16, 2-8-6), a team that hasn’t won a conference game since November, when it handed UMass a 4-2 loss. Merrimack did have a big 4-3 win over then-No. 8 BU on Oct. 30, but has struggled to compete in the Hockey East sincethen.

On the flip side, the Eagles are currently ranked fourth in USCHO’s PairWise Rankings, which places the team in a good place moving forward. They haven’t lost in 2016, with Thatcher Demko having surrendered just 1.79 goals per game, exactly one goal fewer than Merrimack’s 2.79.

Last time they played: BC handed the Warriors a 4-2 loss on Feb. 6, 2015. Alex Tuch scored the first two goals for the Eagles in the first 11 minutes, while Austin Cangelosi and Adam Gilmour tacked on the latter two. Though as a team, BC mustered just 19 shots. More memorably, it was a game filled with 32 separate penalties, which included three fights, six 10-minute majors, and 89 total penalty minutes.

Three keys to the game:

  1. Missing Miles — Freshman stud Miles Wood was suspended one game by Hockey East on Wednesday after a hit to the head on Boston University’s Ahti Oksanen in the first period of the Beanpot final. He was called for a two-minute minor for elbowing during the game, but received the suspension—which he’ll serve during the game tonight’s game—after the game.

    This will be the second game that Wood has been suspended for this season. He received a one-game ban on Dec. 29 against Providence after receiving a penalty for checking from behind against Ohio State the day before. This resulted in the automatic disqualification against Providence, a game which was lost as part of BC’s only losing streak this season. Besides that three-game slide, the Eagles only lost one game at the beginning of the season and are 7-0-3 in the new year.

    The loss of Wood, who has racked up a team-high 66 penalty minutes this season, shouldn’t be too crippling for a BC squad. It took 62 minutes to find the back of the net against BU on Monday night against a remarkable two-week performance from Sean Maguire, who begrudgingly accepted MVP of the tournament. It will also give BC’s fourth-leading scorer another day’s rest after he missed last Saturday’s game against the University of New Hampshire with a lower body injury.

 

 

  1. The Rise of the Dynamic Duo — After nice freshman campaigns and some natural hype for them to take over the team this season, Alex Tuch and Zach Sanford have taken a back seat to the newer boys in town, Wood and Colin White. But lately, they’ve been on their way back up. Tuch and Sanford will each take six-game point streaks into tonight’s game, their longest streaks of the season. The most recent, of course, came in the Beanpot, as a pass from Sanford led to Tuch’s insane, no-look game-winner in overtime. With Tuch and Sanford heating up on the same line as Teddy Doherty, BC should keep Merrimack goalie Collin Delia busy.

 

  1. Demko and Delia — It didn’t matter that he got slammed into and sent to the ground, where he would lie for what felt like an eternity before finally rising back up: Thatcher Demko wasn’t coming out of the Beanpot final, and he wasn’t going to be the first to give up a goal. Maguire may have gotten MVP of the tournament, but Demko was the one who stood and rushed to the jumping pile at the end.

    Delia, meanwhile, has allowed 2.78 goals a game, a far cry from Demko’s Hockey East-leading 1.64. Merrimack’s goalie is also ranked dead-last out of eligible goalies in the Hockey East in save percentage at .895, another wide gape compared to Demko’s .940. Delia has been significantly better at home, allowing nearly a goal-fewer a game. He’ll have to put up a top-notch performance to slow BC’s momentum.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

 

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About Alec Greaney 98 Articles
Retired. But you can probably still follow him on Twitter @AlecGreaney.