Lost in the excitement of bowl Selection Sunday and a strong three game stretch from the Eagles men's hoops team is the recent success of the Eagles ice hockey team. The Eagles have quietly gone 3-0-1 in their last four Hockey East matchups and have taken sole possession of second place in the Hockey East standings. The Eagles hopefully won't show any signs of slowing down. BC looks to finish off 2009 on a high note with road trips to lowly Harvard (1-7-2) and current Hockey East cellar dweller Providence (2-5-1 Hockey East).
In a dress rehearsal for next month's Fenway Park game between BC and BU, the Eagles cruised to victory Saturday night behind two points (one goal and one assist) by junior Joe Whitney. Fresh off their National Championship season, BU is far from their championship form of a season ago. Saturday's 4-1 win over Boston University even drew the attention of the New York Times Slap Shots blog, as BC and BU are two programs seemingly moving in different directions:
The Terriers (4-8-3) are in an entirely different position, scrambling to salvage what is beginning to look like a lost season. If it were not for the lowly, last year’s champs would be planted at the bottom of Hockey East. As Parker told The Boston Globe, it won’t be easy to climb out of the basement.
"Can we catch B.C.? Probably not. Can we catch U.N.H.? Probably not," Parker told the Globe. "In order for us to get back in this, we have to win five league games in a row to start looking like we’re a hockey team again. That can be done, maybe. But there’s no reason to think it’s going to be automatic."
I wouldn't sleep on Boston University's chances to make a run the second half of the year in Hockey East. However based on their early season results, all indications are that the Terriers won't be making any noise in the conference this year. If the Hockey East regular season ended today, last year's National Champions wouldn't even qualify for the conference tournament. Imagine that.
The Eagles have been sparked of late by the play of goaltenders John Muse and Parker Milner. Muse stopped 30 shots for the Eagles in Saturday's 4-1 victory over BU, while Milner stopped 23 of 24 in Friday's 3-1 victory at No. 9 Massachusetts. Milner is quietly 3-0-0 on the year, posting a .897 save percentage and a 2.34 GAA. Milner's performance on Friday earned him Hockey East Rookie of the Week honors while the Eagles moved to No. 10 in the national polls.
One thing is for sure. If BC can skate past Harvard and Providence - two very winnable games - and keep their unbeaten streak going into the Denver Cup over New Year's, the Eagles will be much better positioned to make a run at the Hockey East title and an NCAA title than they were at this time a year ago. It's nice to see the Eagles hitting their stride in December rather than in March like last season where it ultimately proved too little, too late.