BOSTON, MA– The home of one of my favorite fight songs in the NCAA as well as, in my opinion, one of the best collegiate mascots, Boston College starts up its annual series with Northeastern tonight, the first of two Tuesday tilts the teams will engage in. Sandwiched in between, Boston College will play North Dakota over the weekend, whereas Northeastern will have the weekend off.
The Eagles come into Matthews Arena tops in Hockey East, with 13 of a possible 14 points to their name. They sit at 11-4-1 overall, scoring by far the most goals out of Hockey East teams (61 overall, 31 in conference play). Their leading point scorer is Matt Gaudreau, with a line of 5-12-17. Their leading goal scorers are Colin White and Austin Cangelosi, both with 8. Their top scoring defenseman is Casey Fitzgerald, with a 5-8-13 line, second best in Hockey East. Their goaltender is Joe Woll, with a .920 SV% overall, .933 in Hockey East games. In what should have been a rebuilding year, Jerry York once again seems to have reloaded his program into a conference title contender.
We previewed the game with Joe Gravellese of BC Interruption (@BCInterruption on Twitter):
NHB: How big of an impact will Ryan Fitzgerald’s injury have (Fitzgerald suffered a serious ankle injury Sunday vs Minnesota. No timetable established)? How can the Huskies expect the Eagles’ offense to change?
BCI: Gigantic. Fitzgerald is probably the one player above all that BC can ill-afford to lose. He does it all- he makes any linemates he’s playing with dangerous, he’s the key to the power play, and he provides veteran leadership that this young team needs. It would be devastating if he’s out for any extended period of time.
How I expect the offense to change is that I suspect York will try to load up two lines. BC sent out a lineup Sunday that spread the scoring across three lines. Without Fitzgerald, BC is going to want to make sure to get Cangelosi, Calnan, White, Brown, Gaudreau, and Cotton all onto the ice as much as possible.
NHB: Everyone knows the skill of Colin White, but Matt Gaudreau and Chris Brown have been big surprises. Are they now X-Factors to step up and produce more with Fitzgerald out, or would you key in on another player?
BCI: It’s probably going to have to be White who really steps up in Fitzgerald’s absence. Gaudreau and Brown are solid players, but you kind of know what you’re going to get from them, they’re not going to take over games and win them for you for the most part. White is the kind of player who can take a game over against a Northeastern or a North Dakota or a Notre Dame during this tough stretch going into the break.
David Cotton is another player who has the potential to be an X Factor here with Fitzgerald out. He’s showing flashes of being reminiscent of the Hayes brothers- he’s big, he can skate and shoot, but he doesn’t quite have it all together yet. But he’s been a pleasant surprise.
NHB: Joe Woll gets a lot of praise, and deservedly so. What can you say about the defense in front of him? Starting 3 freshmen every night seems to be working out alright for BC so far.
BCI: They’ve been really good for the most part. The Minnesota game was the first time that they really got exposed and gave up a lot of odd-man rushes. It’s not just the blue line, it’s also the way the forwards are getting back to help defend. BC is doing a really good job at winning individual defensive battles in their own zone, and then using those to quickly transition out of the zone. All in all, BC’s team defense has been much better than last year’s – they’re much less reliant on the goalie.