As regular season champions for the first time, BC is the top seed in this weekend's Hockey East semifinals and finals played in Hyannis, MA. Let's take a look at what's ahead for the highly-favored Eagles.
It has been one of the best seasons in Vermont Catamounts history. Vermont hasn't had a winning season since 2001 -- they've had less than half as many wins as losses every single year since then -- and has been one of the absolute worst teams in the country since... well, almost forever. But give credit to Coach Crowley, who identified the Cats as one of the teams to keep an eye on this year. Turns out they were a halfway decent team and even earned home ice in the Hockey East quarterfinals.
Vermont is riding a pretty impressive 7 game winning streak and has won 9 of their last 10, no small feat when you consider that the 10 game stretch started with a sweep of then top 6 ranked Boston University. They've climbed all the way up to TUC status in the Pairwise.
Vermont has a national top 10 goaltender in Roxanne Douville, who was named to the All-Hockey East first team at last night's championship banquet, but she's not all BC has to worry about. The Cats also boast the #4 and #6 leading scorers in Hockey East in juniors Amanda Pelkey and Brittany Zuback.
They are 15th and 17th in team offense and team defense, respectively, out of 36, and 17th in the Pairwise. They are almost exactly described as "halfway" decent. Jerry York would trip over himself to call this team "just, really, just terrific."
The Eagles, on the other hand, have evolved from NCAA tournament bubble team to one of the very best programs in the country. They are 15-1-2 in their last 16 games, the only blemish being a total head-scratcher against UConn, one of the the most completely mind-blowing losses in recent memory. Top scorer Haley Skarupa is 7-4--11 in her last 5 games and appears to be back to full strength after missing 4 games to injury in January.
But the most important factor in BC's success has been the evolution of the lock-down defense and redshirt senior goaltender Corinne Boyles. Boyles has climbed up to 4th in the country in save percentage, which seems impossible considering she was in the bottom half of the country as recently as halfway through the season.
BC seems to be really clicking on all cylinders -- the offense is playing well, the defense is playing well, the goaltending has been spectacular, and even the power play and penalty kill are both tops in Hockey East. It's hard to imagine BC not taking the conference title in what has been a real down hear for Hockey East.
Prediction: Boston College 5, Vermont 1