Previewing BC Hockey 2016-17: What to Expect From Arizona State

BC hockey

Boston College men’s hockey started its season struggling to find consistency. The Eagles lost their first game of the season to Air Force, a team they were expected to beat, and then they won their next game against Denver, then ranked higher than the Eagles. But after starting out the season 1-2, the Eagles have been on a tear, and have not lost in nine games. BC looks to continue its incredible hot streak today against a program in a vastly different position.

BC’s opponent this afternoon is Arizona State. Last season, the Sun Devils began their transition into NCAA Division I, having previously played in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, a club-level league. They struggled in this transition year, finishing with a record of 5-22-2 in a hybrid NCAA/ACHA schedule. They had a hard time creating offense, as only two skaters managed more than half a point per game, and the Sun Devils only managed to outshoot their opponent on three occasions. Their struggles have continued this season, as the Sun Devils currently sit at 2-8-0 on the season. Their lone wins have come in a 5-2 effort against Air Force on Oct. 16 and a 5-4 overtime victory last night against New Hampshire after coming back from a 4-2 third-period deficit. They have been outscored 51-23 by their opponents, and have yet to outshoot any team so far this season. The Eagles have never faced ASU, but they should have little trouble with this developing team.

Keys:

  1. Offensive Depth: Last year, BC’s offense was led largely by Colin White and Ryan Fitzgerald, who each averaged over a point per game. Although neither of them is playing at quite that level this season, the Eagles have compensated for this with an increased scoring depth. Nine skaters currently are averaging at least 0.66 points per game, compared to seven players last season. Returning players like Christopher Brown and Matthew Gaudreau have broken out offensively this year, with Brown already surpassing his 41-game point total from last year in only 12 games this season. Additionally, freshman skaters like David Cotton and Jesper Mattila have been very important contributors. This balanced scoring is working wonders for the Eagles, who are averaging just over four goals per game this season, putting them at sixth in the NCAA.
  1. Goaltending: Freshman Joe Woll has been solid between the pipes this season as BC’s new starter. He currently holds a record of 7-2-1, a save percentage of .930—good for eighth in the NCAA—and a goals against average of 2.09, 13th in the NCAA. Even those stats are dragged down a bit by one game against Wisconsin, in which he allowed five goals. Additionally, Woll has allowed more than two goals only three times this season. Woll will need to keep up this solid play in order to limit a Sun Devils team looking to re-energize its offense. Last night, the Sun Devils saw the return of their leading scorer from last season, sophomore Jordan Masters, who picked up a goal and an assist in his first game. Their offense also features senior Robbie Baillargeon, a Boston University transfer with nine points through eight games this season.
  1. Power Play: As great as the Eagles have been this season, there are still a few areas that need adjustments. After finishing last season with the ninth-best power play in the NCAA, the Eagles have seemingly lost that magic this year. Their power-play conversion rate has dropped by nearly 6 percent since last year, and the Eagles have fallen to 33rd in the NCAA on the man advantage. The Sun Devils, who lead the NCAA in penalty minutes, should provide the Eagles with many power play opportunities. The Eagles should look to take advantage of these opportunities against a team that has struggled with the penalty kill—they currently sit at 56th in the NCAA with a success rate of 74.3 percent—to try to find their spark from last season.  

    Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor