After defeating the University of New Brunswick 6-4 on Saturday night in a spirited exhibition game at Conte Forum, the real games begin for Boston College hockey on Friday night when the Eagles travel to a nearly-sold-out Tsongas Center in Lowell to take on the Riverhawks. For those who won't be making the trip to Lowell, the game will be on NESN.
As you may remember, the last time BC and Lowell met, they produced one of the greatest college hockey games of the last 10 years, a heavyweight bout living up to all the hype surrounding two great teams battling it out in their backyard for a trip to the Frozen Four. But don't call this a rematch. While the ambitions for both programs remain the same, there is an awful lot of turnover.
We all know what BC lost. Lowell arguably lost even more than BC did. First and foremost, Lowell lost two outstanding goalies to the NHL, Connor Hellebuyck and Doug Carr, both of whom were simply outstanding in their UML careers. Joe Pendenza, Derek Arnold and Josh Holmstrom graduated. Scott Wilson left after his junior year to sign a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Gone, therefore, is the core of the team that won back-to-back Hockey East titles.
Like BC, Lowell will be looking to reinvent themselves this year and re-establish themselves as contenders. First, they need to figure out who their starting goalie will be, with two freshmen and a transfer from UMass-Amherst battling it out. Then they need to see if their forwards can continue to play the sort of stifling, in-your-face game Lowell became famous for the last two years.
The fact that these two teams open the season against one another just makes it even more fascinating to see how both teams will look to start the season. Let's get it on!
Tomorrow, Hockey Banter will take a two-part look at BC's roster, first breaking down the forwards, then looking at the defense and goaltending.
On Thursday, we will have a Q&A with the Lowell Sun's UMass-Lowell hockey reporter, Shawn Hutcheon. Then on Friday we'll have our final thoughts as we get ready for the game itself.
The puck drops at 7:15 on Friday.