Welcome to the brave new college hockey scheduling world. Boston College is getting set to face Penn State for the second time this season - the same amount of times they're scheduled to play UNH, Maine and Providence. Okay.
If college hockey were one of those sports where the polls mattered, this would be kind of a no-win situation for BC. Anything less than the smackdown the Eagles laid in the Nittany Lions last month in Pittsburgh, beating them 8-2 in the Three Rivers Classic final, will likely be considered a disappointing performance. Thankfully, the perception doesn't matter. All that matters is keeping the winning run going and holding one of those top spots in the pairwise rankings. So on we go.
BC should certainly expect Penn State's best effort. The House that the Crazy Sabres Owner Built has been sold out for this game for a long time, and will be rocking tonight for one of the school's biggest home games since establishing a D-1 hockey team. While it would be inaccurate to say Penn State is "playing well" - their only recent win came against Robert Morris in the aforementioned Pittsburgh tournament - they have shown some recent competitiveness, losing 3-2 and 5-2 in a pair of home games against #1 Minnesota two weekends ago.
Looking at "trends" for BC is kind of silly at this point because you can say the team (or Gaudreau, or Hayes) has scored X goals in Y games, and it will sound ludicrous until you realize that it's pretty much on par with the average they've put up all season long. This game should pose an opportunity to keep the offense rolling... and what I'd really like to see, on top of that, is a shutout, or at least limiting them to one goal. With Saturday's game being their only matchup of the weekend, BC won't want to put up a poor performance and have to stew on that for a week.
BC Roster Notes
All has been quiet on the Conte front, which needs to be considered good news. The question is whether the goalie rotation has been reversed, giving Billett the nod on Saturday night, or if Demko's second straight start on Tuesday meant the beginnings of him moving into the #1 role.
Game Time: 7:00 PM
TV: Big Ten Digital Network (Onlline, PPV).
Radio: WEEI 850 AM and BCEagles.com
Record: BC: 17-4-3..... Penn State: 4-14-1
KRACH: BC #2.... Penn State #52
BC:109 GF (#1 in NCAA), 56 GA (#14), +53 GD (#1)
Penn State: 43 GF (#54), 73 GA (#56), -30 GD (#53)
Last Time Out: Penn State is coming off a pair of losses at Michigan State last week - 3-0 and 3-2. BC is coming off three straight league wins in a 5 day span, over BU, Maine and Merrimack.
Common Foes: Penn State is 0-4 against Hockey East this year (Vermont, Lowell x2, and BC). Like BC, the Nittany Lions topped Army (4-1).
Storylines: The first trip to Happy Valley. The neverending goaltending battle. Gaudreau's 19-game point streak.
Fun Fact: Penn State is averaging over 100% of capacity at Pegula Arena this year. Average attendance is 5,998 in the 5,782-seater. Bonus fun fact: the last time Penn State led in a game was against BC, when they held a 1-0 lead in the first period in Pittsburgh.
Players to watch: Penn State has three double-digit scorers, Eric Scheid (9-5--14), defenseman Luke Juha (4-8--12), and Luke Goodwin (4-6--10).
Does Billett get the nod tonight? Will BC suffer a letdown game on the road? Can the Eagles keep up their 4.38 goal per game average? How will they manage to score .38 of a goal?
Scoreboard Watching: Out-Of-Town Notes
I feel like every week, I've used this space to complain about how much each week's out of town schedule stinks under the new college hockey world order.
Not this week. Channel-surfers in for a nice weekend of hockey.
On Friday night, we've got the Fake Minnesota Beanpot Imitation, with the Gophers taking on St. Cloud State at approximately 8 PM on Fox Sports North (FCS Central on cable), following the conclusion of MN-Duluth vs. Minnesota State.
In addition, there are a couple of good Hockey East matchups on TV: Maine @ UNH at 7:30 on Fox College Sports, and Northeastern @ Notre Dame at 8 PM on NBCSN. (On the one hand, Northeastern is our closest competitor in the regular season title race; on the other hand, to hell with Notre Dame. Go Huskies). UMass-Lowell travels to Providence in one of the biggest games of the night; that game's on Cox in Rhode Island and available online.
To top it all off, there are a couple of other games on TV tonight, too - a doubleheader on the B1G network, Michigan @ Michigan State at 6:30 PM followed by Ohio State at Wisconsin, plus North Dakota @ Denver on CBS College Sports at 9:30.
Tomorrow night features 5 Hockey East matchups, including 4 on TV, plus the BC game. From a BC perspective, it'll be key to keep an eye on the Providence @ Lowell leg of the home-and-home, and NU's second game of the series at Notre Dame.
The Pre-Game Watering Hole
As Friend of BCI bcfan131 pointed out to me today, "since this game is in Pennsyltucky, I think we should go to a KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut to get food," in honor of the, yes, combined KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut we passed en route to Detroit for the 2010 Frozen Four. But since Boston is so inconvenient and does not feature a combined KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut, such a dining experience would require three stops.
Has anyone been out to Penn State? Any recommendations for fans making the trip this year or in the future?
BC 7, Penn State 1
BC 4, Penn State 1
I am thinking that Penn State keeps this relatively close...they've been playing better and BC already pounded them once.
BCI Prediction Standings
5 points for a correct prediction, minus one point for how far off you were from the victory margin. i.e., predicting a 4-goal win and it ends up being a 2-goal win = 3 points. Also, 1 bonus point for getting a team's score correct. Enter this week's contest by leaving your predictions in the comments.
BC 6, BU 4
BC 7, Maine 2
BC 4, Merrimack 1
Joe: BC 8, BU 2 (1 point)... BC 4, ME 3 (1 point)... MC 2, BC 1 (0 points) --> 2 pts
Grant: BC 5, BU 0 (2 points)... BC 4, ME 2 (3 points)... BC 4 MC 1 (7 points) --> 12 points
New Guy: BC 4, BU 2 (5 points)... Maine 3, BC 2 (0 points)... BC 4 MC 1 (7 points) -> 12 points
Brian: BC 3, BU 0 (4 points).;.. BC 3, Maine 3 (0 points)... BC 5 MC 2 (5 points) --> 9 points)
AJ: BC 6, BU 1 (3 points)... Maine 3, BC 2 (0 points)... BC 4 MC 3 (4 points) --> 7 points
CoachJF: BC 5, BU 2 (4 points)... BC 4 Maine 3 (1 point)... BC 4 Merrimack 2 (5 points)---> 10 points
BCMike22: 3-1 (5 points), 3-3 (0 points), 5-1 (5 points) -> 10 points
BCEagle74: 4-3 (4 points), 3-2 (2 points), 3-1 (5 points) -> 11 points
Airforce987: 5-2 (4 points), 2-2 (0 points), 3-0 (5 points) -> 9 points
giantsfan428: 5-1 (2 points), 2-0 (3 points), 4-3 (4 points) --> 9 points
Once again, Grant puts up a big score, which he tends to do when BC teams are matching his unending exuberant optimism. New Guy tied him, so they both get half a win. #DealWithIt
Grant - 3.5 wins (Week 5, Week 9, Week 11, Week 12 (tie))
Brian - 2.5 wins (Week 3 tie, Week 4, Week 6 1/2)
Joe - 2 wins (Week 1, Week 7)
ACal6888: 1 win (Week 10)
giantsfan428: 1 win (Week 8)
Conrad - 1 win (Week 2)
BCJacket5 - 1 win (Week 6)
AJ - 0.5 win (Week 3 tie)
JCNG - 0.5 win (Week 12 (tie))
Leave your thoughts on the game below and see if you can climb up the BCI leaderboard, to win all sorts of fabulous invisible prizes. Actually, you know what, I'm making up a prize, right now. The winner of the BCI prediction game for the season gets a 15 minute interview done by New Guy on BCInterruption Radio at the end of the season. Yes, New Guy, I'm committing your time and your studio technology without your permission. Go Eagles!