In this week's installment of Hockey Banter, we take a look at this weekend's big games against Notre Dame and BU, look at the future of BC Women's Hockey, and dream of Ian Darke calling the Beanpot.
Joseph Gravellese: Well Grant, you're going to have to carry the load for most of this conversation because I missed the BC-UMass game on Sunday due to work commitments. Didn't see a minute of it. (Said commitments are why the Banter is late this week. Sorry y'all).
The Eagles had another four point weekend, albeit a tight one against sub-par competition. What'd you think of it?
Grant Salzano: I think given the struggles of everyone else at the top of the rankings, we should count ourselves lucky.
JG: Yeah. There looks to be a whole lot of balance, in both Hockey East and the national fixture. Either balance, or mediocrity... can't really decide. But lo and behold, BC is peering down from the top of the mountain, still.
GS: Seems like college hockey -- and Hockey East -- is shaping up to be very, very similar to last season. Last year we had a pretty mediocre Hockey East below the top teams, and generally parity-filled NCAAs.
JG: All kinds of weird things happen and then BC wins? Sounds about right.
GS: I could deal with that.
JG: One thing that really stood out to me was that both wins were come-from-behind.
Wait, no... we didn't trail Maine. Did we?
GS: No, but we might as well have. It sure felt like it. Both of our first two goals were immediately followed by a Black Bear answer. With that kind of frustration that game felt like a loss all night until we pulled it it away with the empty netter late.
JG: Right. And playing a tight game like that in Orono is always a challenge, no matter how terrible Maine is.
And then there was the UMass game. Which, let's be honest -- it was a Sunday afternoon game, against a crappy team, in front of like six fans while everyone was watching football. All of those factors shouldn't matter when you're a top team but these are college students, of course these factors matter. And yet they picked up the win, overcoming numerous obstacles along the way.
GS: I don't know what it is, but despite dominating UMass over the last several years, they seem like a scary team to have to face every time we play them. Being behind in that game and making the late comeback was just huge. It felt like a season-changer despite the fact that it was just another win in a long win streak.
JG: And Jerry York remains on pace to at least have a shot of breaking the all-time record before the Eagles fly out to Minnesota over the break.
It's not a slam dunk -- we could easily go winless this weekend and we have another home and home with BU coming up in a few weeks -- but there's definitely a good chance.
GS: I sure hope they do. Obviously we want to tie and break the record against BU, but worst case scenario is that both big games are played and won out west and no one gets to see it in person.
JG: Especially if it's the Alabama-Huntsville game. Then there really will be nobody there.
GS: That would be the most anticlimactic thing ever. Like the Champs-Élysées part of the Tour de France where they're just kind of riding around to celebrate the inevitable champion.
JG: Oh, another standout moment for me looking at the past weekend: Matheson finally gets on the board. I've only been calling that since.... the New Brunswick game? Last year? Nice to see.
GS: I'm starting to worry that Matheson might actually be too good.
JG: Flight risk, you mean?
JG: I think a lot of people felt that was a possibility going in, so I'd be prepared for it. Long way to go for that though, he's still raw.
GS: It has been quite some time since a really big time BC recruit left before completing any less than three seasons. Could he be the one?
JG: I don't know if you watched the NHL draft but they were asking him over and over on CBC or TSN or Eh-SPN or whatever they have about whether he'd go junior and re-neg his commitment to BC, and he very firmly talked about how excited he was to be going to BC.
Let's not crown him the next Brian Dumoulin just yet, but yeah, that'll be a topic for discussion next summer or the one after.
GS: Matheson will be as good or better than Dumoulin.
JG: That's a bold statement that I'm not ready to make.
Not only was he the most eye-popping BC D I've ever seen, I think when the dust settles he's going to have one of the best pro careers of any of this recent crop of BC pros.
Assuming Gary Bettman lets him have one.
GS: Let's not even go there.
JG: Good call. What's next?
GS: What in the Christ has happened to Northeastern?
JG: They Northeastern'd, I guess. Or is it possible we were dramatically underrating Merrimack?
JG: The last time Northeastern won a game was the same as the last time BC lost one. Funny ol' thing, sample size.
GS: Northeastern gets two games against Alabama-Huntsville this weekend at home. Anything less than four points there...
JG: ...and it'll be time to get the popcorn ready and watch the internet meltdown.
GS: I almost wish I was still in Boston just to go to one of those games. I feel like seeing Alabama-Huntsville play hockey has become a bucket-list event.
JG: Seeing Alabama-Huntsville is definitely on my hockey bucket list.
I think even you have to admit, by the way, that BU looks pretty good at this point.
GS: I have to admit nothing.
I will say this, they made North Dakota look human. We're going to learn a whole lot about both of these hockey teams this weekend, BU's game against Merrimack notwithstanding.
JG: I watched the game they lost, and it was pretty competitive. Didn't see the one they won, but that's a big one. As much as I wanted BU to lose I guess it'll be good for Hockey East's PWR down the stretch. But yeah, I think BU is looking pretty good at least when O'Connor is in net.
Oh yes. As though it wasn't already going to be enough of a MAIN EVENT, we get the Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley treatment on NESN Sunday evening.
GS: Jack Edwards calling this game is the single greatest thing to come out of the lockout (which we will not talk about).
JG: You know he's going to be fired up and ready to drop some weird lines and crazy commentary on Sunday.
JG: I've got 4-to-1 odds that he compares BC-BU to the Civil War. We know he's a noted historian.
GS: He is going to be completely over the top for this. It's not his usual gig and it's a wild rivalry. Oh yeah, that somehow quintupled the entertainment factor of this game.
Reasonable compensation for those of us not trekking down to the scummy end of Comm Ave.
JG: Which I will be doing. Looking forward to it, even though I'm still vehemently opposed to this two-year trend now of playing a BC-BU game in November. Way too early.
GS: Let alone playing the last two games in *late* November. But at least we get DOC EMRICK covering those games on NBC Sports. Holy hell.
JG: YES. That might even be more exciting than the Jack Edwards news. All we need is Al Michaels to call Jerry's win-record-clincher and we've reached an epic trifecta.
GS: Or Ian Darke. Ahhhhhh
Trying to imagine Ian Darke calling the Beanpot. Mind: Blown.
GS: I can't even comprehend the amazing that would be.
JG: Which, by the way, if nobody's ever seen this video...
JG: Watch it. Now.
What were we talking about again?
Oh, BC hockey. Right.
JG: Yeah, BC hockey.
Since we last chatted the outlook got a lot rosier for the BC women's team. Saturday's game was aggravating. To completely blast BU in the shot count but end up tied 5-5 was just frustrating as all hell. But two smackdowns on consecutive weeks -- one at BU, one vs Providence -- have me feeling good.
GS: Not only have the scores been where we'd like them to be, but they just look like they have an incredible flow to their game.
Top to bottom, there is scoring all over the place on this roster. And so much of it from freshman and sophomores!
JG: Yes indeed. Hopefully they don't go pro and we should be all set.
*ba dum CHHH*
GS: Hey, you don't know, maybe the CWHL will align with the NHL and really take off.
Or lock everyone out, whichever.
By the way, news broke last week that Quinnipiac will be hosting the 2014 Women's Frozen Four.
JG: Yes indeed! That's great news and will be a good excuse at the very least for me to come visit you in Connecticut. But I expect BC to be there.\
GS: That would be Carpenter's and Field's senior year, this year's incredible freshman class's junior year, and on top of it all, an Olympic year where all of the ridiculous players from the women's hockey powerhouses out west miss the season for the winter games.
Despite the talent on our roster, somehow I don't think any Eagles will be on the national team, which is somewhat surprising. But this kind of top-to-bottom talent, with a few national teams snubs thrown in there, paints a very, very intriguing picture for our chances in 2014 with the local tourney.
JG: It seems like the Women's Frozen Four always in Minneapolis or Duluth. Isn't it in Minneapolis this year, too? Quinnipiac is a, uh, random choice. At least when they had it in Erie (?!?!?!) you could say it was because Mercyhurst is a women's hockey power.
But I'm not complaining.
GS: Amen to that.
JG: So, another weekend beckons.
GS: Indeed it does.
JG: How will it shake out for the Eagles?
GS: There is a ton of hype for this weekend, huh? And with good reason: #7 Notre Dame and #11 BU.
JG: Yep. Our biggest hockey rival, preceded by, I suppose, our biggest institutional rival. These are the kinds of weekends you really miss in the dog days of August.
GS: You know how I'm the biggest optimist you know?
GS: Well, I'm predicting a sweep.
JG: I'm going to say that we lose to Notre Dame but squash BU at Our House down the street. We never seem to beat Notre Dame in hockey. Well, except for that one time.
GS: I think this Notre Dame hockey game might actually be overshadowing the BU game in terms of hype. At least for now. For that reason, I think we are going to win that game, and win it handily. Then we have two days to prepare for BU.
I don't know, it seems like a perfectly set up weekend for us as far as focus is concerned.
JG: Alright. Well there ya go.
What else are you looking out for this weekend?
GS: North Dakota vs. St. Cloud. Where did St. Cloud come from? Since getting swept by UNH (lol) they've gone a healthy 5-1-0 including a solid road split against #3 Denver.
JG: Losing to UNH is nothing to LOL about right now. They look pretty good. But yes, that's a key one to watch.
Also, Lowell should finally get into the Hockey East win column this weekend since they'll be playing Maine.
But if they don't we'll have to send some medical help to our friends over at The Ice is Life.
GS: Maine has to start winning games eventually... right?
JG: Eventually. But not this week.
GS: I agree. Not against Lowell.
JG: And by the time we do this next, the women will have another game in the books: Monday night, at Dartmouth, the site of the program's sweetest triumph. And I expect them to win that one.
GS: I do as well. Lots has changed since BC was a monster underdog to the #3 team in the country in '07. BC will win that game without much trouble. Dartmouth isn't really much of a contender this year.
JG: Alright. That's a wrap?
GS: I believe it is. Apologies for not being to split up this bad boy this week, but today is Game Day (!!!) so we want to make sure you get all of your Hockey Banterisms in before the games. If you can read it in time (I'm looking at you, tl;dr guy).
Oh, and one more thing, Joe.
JG: What is it?
GS: Don't forget to bring plenty of Clorox wipes with you to Agganis on Sunday.
GS: BU PENALTY BOX JOKE *AT THE BUZZER*. COUNT IT!
JG: Well done.