Previewing 2017-18 Men’s Hockey: Providence

After a winless weekend at the Ice Vegas Invitational, No. 16 Boston College men’s hockey looks to get back on track with its third and final matchup of the regular season against Hockey East foe Providence.

The No. 11 Friars (14-7-1, 7-4-1 Hockey East) are winners of four straight, outscoring their opponents 18-3 during that stretch. The two have split the previous games, with Providence taking the last meeting back in October, 2-1. With the hosting Eagles (10-8-3, 10-3-0) leading the conference and up five points on their visitors, this is a pivotal late-season matchup.

Who is BC playing?
Providence

When is BC playing?
Friday, Jan. 12, 7 p.m.

Where is BC playing?
Kelley Rink, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

How to Watch/Listen:
The game will be broadcast on radio on WEEI and is available to stream via WatchESPN

By the Numbers:

BC:

1) Sophomore forward Julius Mattila, who leads the team in points (18) and is tied for the lead in goals (6), currently boasts a nine-game point streak and has at least one point in 10 of his last 12 games.

2) The Eagles scored twice on the power play during the Ice Vegas tourney but have the worst success rate in the conference, converting just 13 of their 84 chances this season (15.5 percent).

3) BC’s defense ranks fifth in the conference in goals allowed per game but is coming off back-to-back subpar performances. It conceded seven goals in the two Las Vegas games,  and has seen its goal differential drop to -2.

Providence:

1) Junior forward Erik Foley has been one of the most dangerous scoring threats in the country, particularly in conference play. He’s piled up 15 points in 11 Hockey East games—a conference-best 1.36 points per game average.

2) The Friars are very effective on the penalty kill, ranking second in the conference with an 88.1 percent success rate (89-of-101).

3) A plethora of Providence players have been enjoying impressive streaks in the latter half of the season. Kasper Björkqvist has two game-winning goals in his last three games, Brandon Duhaime and Greg Printz have career-long four-game point streaks, and Brian Pinho recently earned Player of the Week honors on the back of a five-point week.

Last Meeting:
The last matchup came in the midst of a four-game losing streak for the Eagles, with Providence skating to a 2-1 win on its home ice on Oct. 27. In a game that featured 18 combined penalties, BC saw a 1-0 first-period lead disappear after Foley and Ben Mirageas each tallied goals in the second. Both netminders stayed busy as Joseph Woll had 34 saves in the loss, while Providence’s Hayden Hawkey stopped 24 pucks.

BC wins if…
It can keep up offensively. Providence enters averaging over four goals per game during its win streak, so the final regular season matchup between these teams could mirror the first—a come-from-behind, 4-3 overtime win for the Eagles. BC is a combined 0-for-9 on the power play, so if it can break through once or twice in what’ll likely be a physical, fast-paced game, it’ll have a chance to take the season series.

BC loses if…
It’s sloppiness proves costly again. The Eagles lost the penalty battle to the Friars in the last meeting, and their additional struggles on the power play were too much to overcome. If the game turns physical, Providence has the weapons to keep BC off the board when it’s a man down, but the same isn’t necessarily true for the Eagles—the Friars had a decisive power-play goal in their one-goal win in November. If Providence’s vaunted penalty kill unit does its job, BC could be cursing its struggles on the power play when the final horn sounds.

Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor

About Bradley Smart 138 Articles
Bradley is the associate sports editor for The Heights. He believes that America does truly run on Dunkin, March is the best month, baseball teams should always wear stirrups, and being down 3-1, in anything, is never cause for concern. You can follow him on Twitter @bradleysmart15.