A truncated week of preparation is over, and the Eagles and Minutemen are set for a home-and-home series tonight and tomorrow night. Tonight's game is sneaky-big for the Eagles - a win would make them 7-2-1 and stretch their win streak to 5 with the next two games coming at home against UMass and on the road against Harvard.
Meanwhile, 3-6-1 UMass looks to bounce back after being obliterated on back to back nights by UNH last week. Following last week's blowout losses, UMass is now statistically the worst team in the conference with a -16 goal differential. However, they've had a couple of good weekends this year, sweeping Michigan State and going 1-2-1 in a stretch of four consecutive games against Maine (yes, that happened, thanks to a non-conference pairing).
BC Roster Notes
Steve Santini is suspended for tonight's game after picking up a game disqualification penalty for a high hit in the third period against Army. Teddy Doherty will slot into his place on the blue line. Expect the regular fourth liners to be back in the game tonight despite Matt Gaudreau's goal on Sunday.
The goaltender rotation is expected to continue unchanged, with Demko in goal tonight and Billett tomorrow.
Demko in game 1, Billett in game 2
Game Time: 7:00 Thursday, 7:00 Friday
TV: Both games are streamed through the CBS All-Access platform, tonight's through UMass's website and tomorrow's through BC's. If you are a CBS All-Access monthly subscriber you can get both feeds. Individually, they'll cost you about $8 a pop.
Radio: WEEI 850 AM and BCEagles.com
Record: BC is 6-2-1; UMass is 3-6-1
BC:45 GF (1st in HEA).... 22 GA (5th in HEA).... +23 (1st in HEA)
UMass: 21 (9th in HEA).... 37 GA (11th in HEA)... -16 (11th in HEA)
Last Time Out: BC romped their way to a 2-0 weekend, beating BU 5-1 and Army 11-0. UMass got bulldozed by UNH, 4-1 at UNH and 9-0 at home.
Common Foes: The only common foe between BC and UMass so far has been BU, who the Minutemen lost to 3-1 in their season opener at Agganis Arena.
Storylines: BC and UMass suddenly are at the statistical top and bottom of the conference after lopsided weekends. Will this series go as the stats might suggest, or will UMass bounce back and continue their run of improved form against the Eagles? Will UMass's injured goalie Mastelerz play or will BC get two cracks at a freshman backup?
Players to watch: Troy Power, a junior, leads UMass with a 4-4--8 line, while freshman Steven Iacobellis is off to a great start at 4-3--7. Steve Mastalerz is one of the conference's best goalies, but he is day-to-day after suffering an injury last weekend.
Fun Fact: UMass's win at BC in January was their first at Conte since December of 2007.
How will Teddy Doherty fare in his return to thel ineup? Can BC keep up their ludicrous 5 goal/gm average? Will Mastalerz be healthy enough to have a say in that? Does Gaudreau keep up his insane pace?
Scoreboard Watching: Out-Of-Town Notes
This is a bit of a light weekend in terms of intriguing Hockey East matchups. BU is playing Maine, which would be totally epic if this were 1997. Since it's 2013, my eye will be on UNH-Northeastern - one team that's been underperforming relative to my expectations, and one that's been overperforming.
The Pre-Game Watering Hole
Given that you have to travel through three time zones to get to Amherst, I've never had a lot of time to enjoy the town's offerings pre-game. I did have an awesome, albeit brief, experience at Amherst Brewing Company, a huge bar featuring many of their own beers.
On paper, this looks to be a set of cakewalks for BC. But I'm going to temper my optimism a bit and say UMass manages the split, winning tonight at home, 3-2. BC bounces back with an easy win tomorrow night, 6-1. I just have a weird feeling that one of UMass's freshmen backups is going to have one of those out-of-nowhere goaltending performances, BC will turn the puck over a few times, and UMass will play their game of the season to win. I have nothing substantive to base that on other than a latent pessimism that I blame on the football program.
UNH gets things revved up with a sweep of Northeastern this weekend. UMass-Lowell rolls over Penn State.
Boston College 6, UMass 0
Boston College 5, UMass 1
After winning 50 straight games again UMass, give or take, Mullins Arena has become a sort of mini-Matthews for the Eagles. Strange things have happened @ UMass, man. BC needed OT to put away UMass, 5-4, in the only game at Mullins early last season. The year before, BC lost both games on the other end of the Mass Pike. That streak ends this week, where the Eagles potent offense smothers a UMass squad that may be playing without starting goaltender Steven Mastalerz. Freshmen Alex Wakaluk and Mac Haight combined to give up nine goals on 33 shots vs. UNH in relief of Mastalerz, which, ouch.
UMass Lowell 4, Penn State 0
UMass Lowell 6, Penn State 2
The Nittany Lions are 3-3-1 (.500) on the year, but the program's three wins have come against Atlantic Hockey competition. Not coincidentally, that's the conference that this program should be competing in. UML big.
Boston University 3, Maine 1
After sweeping UMass in a non-conference conference series, Maine managed a single point the following weekend against the same UMass team when it really counted. That's the type of season Maine is having under first-year coach Red Gendron.
Providence (Vermont), New Hampshire (Northeastern) and Notre Dame (Merrimack) all sweep. Nothing to see here.
On Sunday, UConn pulls a Sacred Heart and shocks Boston U-- hahahahaha no, sorry. Can't bring myself to do this. UConn does beat the other BU, Bentley, on Friday night. Sorry, New Guy.
BC 5, UMass 2
BC 5, UMass 1
New Guy followed up his predictions with some trolling comments about UMass but he's fulfilled his UMass-trolling quota for the week, so we'll give it a rest.
BC with a pair of 4-0 wins.
UConn vs. BU is fascinating. BU is just not good this year. UConn isn't either, and they're definitely worse than BU, but would it shock me to see UConn keep it close and win? Not really.
I say BU wins 3-0 but watch out for this one.
1. Don't send in any predictions
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 BC-BU and BC-Army predictions in the comments.
Boston College 5, BU 1
Boston College 11, Army 0
Joe: BC 4, BU 3 (2 points).... BC 6, Army 1 (0 points) ---> 2 points
Brian: BC 4, BU 2 (3 points).... BC 4, Army 0 (1 point)---> 4 points
Grant: BC 4, BU 0 (5 points)... BC 6, Army 0 (1 point) ---> 6 points
Dan: BC 3, BU 1 (4 points)... BC 6, Army 0 (1 point) ----> 5 points
Patty: BC 4, BU 3 (2 points).... BC 6, Army 1 (0 points)--->2 points
Maureen: BC 3, BU 2 (2 points).... BC 5, Army 2 (0 points)--->2 points
Amy C: BU 3, BC 1 (traitor!) (0 points)..... BC 5 Army 0 (1 point) ---> 1 point
Grant wins...this time. This competition is shaping up to have quite a bit of parity,.
Brian - 1.5 wins (Week 3 tie, Week 4 )
Joe - 1 win (Week 1)
Conrad - 1 win (Week 2)
Grant - 1 win (Week 5)
AJ - 0.5 wins (Week 3 tie)
How are you feeling about the series? Will the Eagles pick up a tough road win tonight? Can they continue their unbeaten start on home ice?