Boston College vs. Michigan/RPI: Final Thoughts and Predictions

Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

The quest for a sixth national championship begins tonight in Ann Arbor. Inspired by the great work AJ does covering football, we are offering FinalThoughts and Predictions before each hockey weekend.

Well, it's finally here. If you're a BC hockey fanatic, to say this is the day you've been waiting for since Union dismantled the Eagles in Providence back in March might be a bit of an understatement. In reality, you've been waiting for this day since whatever game made you decide last year's team just didn't have It. For me, that was March 2 against Providence, when the Friars came to Conte and bulldozed over BC, gold jerseys and all.

Sure, we rationalized, and held out hope that BC was going through another patented mid-season slump, with a renaissance on the horizon. But ultimately, it wasn't to be. Injuries held out some key players, and the head coach, during crucial parts of the season, and the team just didn't have enough depth to compete for the major trophies.

Thanks to what may well be the most hyped recruiting class of the entire Jerry York era, an infusion of talent at every position has BC fans thinking big things again this year. It all starts tonight at Michigan, in their first game as members of the Big Ten Hockey Conference. You can watch it live........... if you live in Ann Arbor. (The Big Ten Network has a very important rebroadcast of a football game from 2002 to air tonight, so we're out of luck.) But you can listen to the game online and on WEEI 850 AM, so there's that.

BC Roster Notes

-Junior goaltender Brian Billett will start in net tonight against Michigan.

-After missing Sunday's exhibition, Michael Sit looks likely to re-enter the lineup tonight. Destry Straight will likely miss the game with a lingering injury.

-Sophomore defenseman Colin Sullivan and BC parted ways this week after Sullivan was listed as the 9th defenseman in Sunday's exhibition game.

Projected lines:

Gaudreau-Hayes-Cangelosi
Fitzgerald-Arnold-Richardson
Smith-Brown-Calnan
Sit-Gilmour-Silk

Matheson-McCoshen
MacLeod-Linell
Doherty-Santini

Billett

Michigan: Thursday, 7 PM, Yost Arena

TV: lol nope. However, if you are on campus the game will be showed on Channel 11. Great move BC Athletics!

Radio: WEEI 850 AM; BCEagles.com

Record: This is Michigan's first game of the regular season. Last year, the Wolverines went 18-19-3, with a 10-15-3 record in CCHA play.

Common Foes: Last year, the only "Hockey East" team Michigan faced all year was Notre Dame. They went 0-5 against the Irish, including a season-ending loss in the CCHA title game.

Last Time Out: Michigan lost last weekend's exhibition game to Waterloo, 2-1, despite outshooting them 35-22. Andrew Copp had the goal for Michigan.

Storylines: Alex Guptill, Michigan's leading returning scorer, has been suspended for this game due to a violation of team rules. It's a rocky start for Michigan, who hopes to bounce back after missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20+ years.

Players to watch: Andrew Copp, a sophomore forward, scored 11 goals last year, and had Michigan's goal in their exhibition last week. Junior Phil Di Guiseppe put up 28 points last year and earned an invitation to Canada's World Junior evaluation camp.

Fun Fact: The Big Ten invented college hockey (I read about it in the New York Times), so it's safe to say this is the first college hockey game ever played.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Sunday, 3 PM, Conte Forum (Home Opener)

TV: BCEagles.com online stream

Radio: WEEI 850 AM; BCEagles.com

Record: RPI hasn't played yet this season. They open up Saturday night at Sacred Heart. Last year, they went 18-14-5, with a 12-7-3 ECAC record.

Common Foes: RPI went 0-2 against Hockey East last year, losing 3-2 to BU and 5-2 to UNH, both in January of 2013.

Last Time Out: The Engineers cruised to a 5-1 exhibition win over St. Mary's last weekend.

Storylines: RPI enters this season as a pre-season favorite to win the ECAC title. With games against BC this weekend and BU next weekend, they have an early opportunity to set themselves up for a good Pairwise position as they look to get into the NCAA tournament.

Players to watch: Sophomore goaltender Jason Kasdorf led RPI on an 11-3-1 run to end the regular season last year, putting up a 1.62 GAA and .935 SV% his freshman year. Jacob Laliberte, a highly touted junior forward, had 11 goals and 17 assists last year for RPI.

Fun Fact: RPI is well known for having an extremely loyal fanbase. Expect a lot of red in the building on Sunday.

Lingering Questions

At this point, everything is a lingering question...

Which freshmen will emerge as leaders for BC? Will the lineup be changed up between games 1 and 2 to give players like Cam Spiro and Scott Savage an opportunity to crack the lineup? With Matheson and McCoshen manning the points, will BC go back to having a lethal power play? Will BC's young team respond well to the challenge of starting on the road? Can the Eagles get to Kasdorf on Sunday? Will Sunday's game sell out going up against Columbus Day weekend and NFL throwyball?

Scoreboard Watching: Out-Of-Town Notes

Joe Gravellese: I've got my eye on the Alabama-Huntsville at Northeastern series on Friday and Saturday night, because an Alabama-Huntsville win would be the trolilest start to the season ever. In terms of quality matchups: Merrimack travels out to Denver on Friday and Saturday, and Providence hosts Minnesota State each night. Those are, quietly, important PWR games for Hockey East early on.

Grant Salzano: Not too many competitive games this weekend really, but I will be interested to see the result of the WMU vs. Notre Dame game. Also, UMass and Holy Cross (LOL) at BU. PLEASE, please let BU lose to Holy Cross.

Also --hell of a weekend in women's hockey. Wisconsin plays Minnesota in women's hockey 2x this weekend. The streak ends here, I think. Also, Duluth plays North Dakota twice. Those are some marquee freaking matchups.

Dan Rubin:

Game BC Fans Should Make Themselves Aware Of - Maine at St. Lawrence - Maine's first game under Red Gendron comes against a sneaky good St. Lawrence team with a blistering offense. If Maine beats SLU, the potential will be there that the top of Hockey East gets log jammed. You know, since at least there's not five teams already vying for the top slot as it is.

Game BC Fans Really Shouldn't Care About: Alabama-Huntsville at Northeastern - The WCHA loves biscuits, and Northeastern was a terrible hockey team. If UAH wins, we can all laugh at NU. But if NU wins, we can still all laugh at NU because, you know, they were a terrible hockey team last year.

The Pre-Game Watering Hole

In the vein of A.J.'s pre-game beer and music choices, I'd like to offer up my favorite places to get food or drinks before BC hockey games on the road. Unfortunately, I've never been to Ann Arbor, so I don't have one for this week. Thankfully, New Guy Dan Rubin has some second-hand information. Take it away, New Guy:

"Strong marks came back from Bentley's trips the last two years for the Arbor Brewing Company on E. Washington Street. A guy I know told me it was a fantastic pierogi appetizer, even though pierogi is more of a Pittsburgh thing. Happy hours from 4-7 on weekdays! They have a bunch of microbrews on tap."

Thanks New Guy. On Sunday prior to the home opener, you can probably find me somewhere in Brighton Center.

BCI GPS: Where will we be watching? What do we predict?

Joe Grav:

Ear pressed against the radio, wondering how Grant is going to turn the WEEI broadcast into animated .GIFs.

PREDICTIONS:

-Michigan 3, BC 2: I think this is going to be a tough game, and I will be a NEGNAN and say going into the fire of playing in Yost will be a bit too stiff a test for this freshman-laden team in their first game. Billett will play well and BC will be in it but Michigan will hold on.

-BC 6, RPI 1: Sunday is when the Eagles' dynamic offense will break out in a real game. Look for a touchdown and goals by at least two freshmen.

-Northeastern will sweep Alabama-Huntsville, and BU will beat Holy Cross, denying us the lulz.
-Providence will start their season with a bang by sweeping Minnesota State.

-BC women will sweep St. Lawrence.

Grant:

In the kitchen, baking cookies. Listening to the radio Thursday; watching online Sunday, cursing every text from Joe reminding him that he's actually at the game.

PREDICTIONS:

I've got 5-2 scores all around -- BC over Michigan, BC over RPI, and the ladies over SLU twice. All 5-2.

Providence will split, and the Mack Attack is going to have a rough go of things. I award them no points, and my God have mercy on their souls.

And as much as I want to predict otherwise, BU will handle the Holy Cross Crusader onslaught.

Dan "New Guy" "Not the Basketball Player" Rubin

BC-Michigan: Michigan is one of those teams that's solid through their top lines, but their goaltending situation is not pretty. Last year, they lost to RIT, coughed up seven to Michigan State, five to Cornell, five to Ferris State.... against Johnny Hockey and what might be the best offensive unit in Division I after losing the exhibition to Waterloo? 5-1 BC

BC-RPI: RPI needs this game. They're the preseason top pick int he ECAC, and they're a team who has a fan base still trying to convince everyone that they deserved the 12th spot in Hockey East. At least they'll get to tee off on Sacred Heart this weekend before they come to BC. 4-2 BC

Brian:

BC-Michigan: Flying to South Carolina to assess feasibility of Clemson varsity men's ice hockey #ACCHockey. BC 4, Michigan 3, IN A SHOOTOUT.

BC-RPI: Flying home. Did anyone get the number of that truck? 5-2 BC.

A.J. Black

Cheering on the Johnny Gaudreau AERIE-AL CIRCUS

Predictions:

BC 4, Michigan 2.
BC 3, RPI 1

Conrad

Staring at the ice, wondering how they fit the shoothoops court under there.

Predictions:

Michigan 72, BC 55
BC 68, RPI 51

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How are you feeling about this weekend's games? Excited about this year's freshman crop? Share your thoughts below.

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