Photo via The Heights.
For the second consecutive week, the Northeastern Huskies will take on Boston College in a Tuesday Night Rivalry contest, this time on the Eagles’ home ice at Conte Forum. The Huskies have had a week to prepare for the rematch after last Tuesday’s heartbreaking loss on a Michael Kim shorthanded goal in the waning seconds, while the Eagles took a trip down to the World’s Most Famous Arena over the weekend where they were defeated by a score of 4-3 at the hands of the Fighting Hawks of the University of North Dakota in front of a half-filled Madison Square Garden.
BC will remain without Ryan Fitzgerald, who is out 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain, and the lineups for both squads will likely remain mostly unchanged from what we saw last week, including Ryan Ruck in net. The Huskies go into their final game of their first half nursing a 1-5-2 record and just 4 points in Hockey East play, a very slight improvement over last year’s 3 points after the first eight league games.
Needless to say, the Northeastern Huskies haven’t had the first half that anybody involved in the program was hoping for. This writer was personally aiming for a point per game pace in league play entering the winter break, and the Huskies will instead hover around half that pace, with 4-6 points after 9 league games depending on the result tonight. A victory and two points for the Huskies would bump them 11th to 8th in Hockey East (with the most games played of every team in the league) going into the second half of the year.
Interestingly, however, the three teams tied for third place in Hockey East boast 9 points through 8, 8, and 7 games in the first half. Taking two points from a tough road contest and getting within just three points of a potential first round bye would be tremendous for the Huskies. As would getting a victory over BC, who has not been fallen to the Huskies in a regular season (non-Beanpot) game since October of 2012, when not a single current Husky attended NU. The Huskies have not won a game at Conte Forum since March 7 of 2008. I would like to point out that on March 7, 2008, I was in middle school, Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty had not been drafted yet, Tedy Bruschi and Larry Izzo were linebackers for the 18-1 New England Patriots, and the Chicago Blackhawks did not yet have fans. It’s been a while.
The keys to the game for NU will, as always, be the top six and the goaltender. NU spoiled the best game Ryan Ruck has played since at least October, and possibly his best game since February, last Tuesday in the 2-1 loss. If Ruck comes through and the top six score (because we all know the bottom six won’t) the Huskies have a chance no matter who they’re playing. On the flip side, we can’t afford to come out of another game with zero points if the Huskies are to make a run at the top half of Hockey East. This year’s second half that is significantly more difficult than the one NU faced last year and scoring just 4 points through 10 games might doom the Huskies to a finish in the bottom half of the conference.
Downie (7-4-2): 7-4 BC
Davis (6-5-2): 5-3 BC
Fallon (7-4-2): 4-2 BC