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Hockey Banter, Week XVI: Beanpot Review, And Looking Ahead

Double Beanpots, and Vermont is pretty high.

via Boston College Athletics

Joseph Gravellese: By the time Tuesday had come and gone, Boston College's men's and women's hockey teams had Beanpot titles under their belt. Not a bad week.

This weekend, the men and women both have chances to win another trophy. They both have the potential to lock up the Hockey East regular season titles with road sweeps -- the women at Maine, the men at Vermont. It's not a lock, obviously, but there's a decent chance they both get the job done and add to the hardware collection. I'd say trophy season is off to a pretty good start.

Grant Salzano: It sure is.

You touched on it recently, but I don't think anyone really anticipated how good the men's hockey team would be -- or at least appears to be. And our last few games have been without an optimal lineup. That will change this weekend, though, with the return of McCoshen to the blue line.

JG: Yep. They don't necessarily feel like an all-time bone-crushing all star squad... you looked at the lineup sheet in 2011 and saw Chris Kreider on the third line and thought "holy crap, this team is absolutely stacked." I don't necessarily feel that way about this year's roster -- but they're just so very good all around and are putting up some incredible numbers.

McCoshen's return can only make things better, as he's one of the team's most valuable players -- but it should be said, both Linell and MacLeod had possibly their best games on defense on Monday. Both were noticeable making good defensive plays and using speed to help jump start offense.

GS: The most important part of McCoshen's return, to me, other than just his blue line expertise, is getting Linell back at forward. He was really starting to look good up there. Linell can start to jump start offense while on D, but he can actually be a part of that offense when he doesn't have to be back there.

Also, I really want Savage to succeed, of course, but McCoshen coming back will probably also lower his ice time a bit. He had some really, really bad plays this week.

JG: I had a conversation about that on Tuesday while sitting at the women's Beanpot final with a friend -- the question about whether York would keep Straight in the lineup, keep Linell at D, and bench Savage. He had two bad moments on Monday -- one that really cost the team, and one that didn't, thanks to Demko and some good luck.

HOWEVAH -- I am not on board with that approach. I am all about getting Linell back at forward and keeping Savage in the lineup. To me, that's our best, deepest lineup. As was evident in that stretch against BU, Maine and the Mack.

GS: Yes, I agree. I don't think Savage is *bad* -- he just had some breakdowns. He is a freshman, after all.

JG: No doubt. And it hasn't really been a common occurrence.

Linell just adds so much when you insert him into the forward mix. We've been over this extensively, obviously. So that's the move I think York will make.

Before we turn the page, do you have any final thoughts on the Beanpot? Either winning the thing itself, or on BC's performance on Monday night?

GS: Honestly, I know we were crapping our pants for most of that game, but I thought they looked great. Northeastern had just a couple of stretches where they were out-doing us, but despite the close score I thought we played pretty well.

It helps that we played a good team and both teams looked to be playing at a high level.

As for winning 5 straight: God damn, man. God damn.

JG: It was a nerve-wracking game, but when is a Beanpot final not? The last 8 or 9 minutes were sort of a version of overtime against Harvard in the 2008 Beanpot final. It had been a close game and the Eagles had been, at times, outplayed.

Then overtime started and they went absolutely beast mode, outshooting Harvard 8 or 9-0 in OT before scoring the winner.

BC began to really assert control of the game in the third period, increasingly as it went on. No doubt, NU probably emptied their tank as they pretty well controlled the second period. Once BC took the lead, their back was broken.

BC did a nice job of weathering that storm and actually employed a pretty successful neutral zone trap for part of the second period.

The goal stunk, but was more of a result of two rare occurrences: a bad mistake by a defenseman, and Demko giving up a big, juicy rebound.

But for the most part, they had a great plan and solid execution.

GS: Also, I don't think that game is close without Clay Witt.

Kid is legit.

JG: Yes, wow, Witt. He did a Tim Thomas impression a few times. Some wild stops.

And I'll just echo your sentiments on being amazed by the fifth straight Beanpot title. Unfathomable not too long ago. I certainly greatly appreciate getting to watch this run and do not take it for granted.

GS: We can briefly touch on the Women's Beanpot for a second.

First of all, this is only the third time ever that one school has had both Beanpots. And there have been a hell of a lot of Beanpots.

Second, I was REALLY worried going into this game without Dana Trivigno after losing to UConn (WTF), who as far as I'm aware is out for this weekend as well. But man, Northeastern never had a chance.

I mean, they really just did not threaten. The D has looked great lately, and Boyles is turning it on at the right time.

And also... the Women's Beanpot got more national coverage than the North Star Cup thing did just by @SportsCenter and @Buccigross tweeting the picture of their championship photo. POINT: BOSTON.

JG: #TrollSoHard

You're right. BC had that game in their control from the word go. They almost scored a few goals in the early minutes but couldn't capitalize on a number of chances. Once they did score it was pretty much over. NU hit a post in the second but it was never really troubling.

The game was pretty boring, for the most part, just because BC really locked things down.

I don't mind the winning kind of boring.

On the media attention front, the Globe and the Herald both had decent coverage of the Women's Beanpot, too. I think the attention of the Olympic team may have had a little trickle down effect. The women's edition of the sport only grows with each Olympic cycle.

Something like 350,000 people tuned in live to watch USA-Finland last week at 3 AM on NBC Sports Network the other night. That's... pretty good, even for not 3 in the morning in a non-meaningless game. For some perspective, average NHL regular season viewership last year on NBCSN was 392,000.

GS: The women's hockey team really gets a lot of love every 4 years. It doesn't hurt that the talent level has gotten so high the last few cycles. It's really a shame that the USA/Canada final isn't during prime time because that would get excellent ratings.

JG: Agreed. Of course, in order for the US women's hockey team to become a cultural institution the way the women's soccer team is, they would need to have more opponents than just Canada. As much as the US-Canada rivalry is fun, the lack of competition prevents, say, the IIHF World Championship from being something that could become a real TV event.

But that's another topic for another day. And it's certainly been beaten to death enough in print and on TV.

GS: So let's look ahead to the weekend. I'm confident the women can't possibly lose to Maine after last week's UConn debacle, so let's talk men's hockey.

Vermont is a damn good team. But I am *sure* we'll sweep. Why is that?

JG: Because you always think we are going to win every game.

GS: Well, I don't know. I thought we were going to lose to NU in the women's game.

JG: For me, we are getting into "they can't possibly just run the table" territory so I'm probably going to predict a split.

These are going to be two challenging games. Vermont has been under the radar all year, but is quietly poised to possibly make the NCAA tournament in addition to tipping the apple cart in Hockey East.

GS: It's hard to believe that Vermont is 0.0001 RPI points away from being in a tie for 10th in the Pairwise.

But there they are.

It's actually really confusing when you look at their schedule. It's not really all that impressive. Split with BU. Split with NU. Went 1-1-2 with some pretty 'meh' ECAC teams. Swept by PC. Split with Maine. Split with Notre Dame.

JG: I'd be lying if I said I've seen Vermont more than three times on TV this year. Notre Dame and BU, and I think that was all.

But on the stat sheet, they've built their run off pretty consistently good defense.

GS: How are they ranked so high?

JG: Haha, Vermont. High.

GS: Their schedule has been pretty 'potent,' I guess you could say.

JG: 3-1 against Maine and a sweep against UNH helped. You know, I wonder if playing Maine in two non-conference games boosted their RPI so much just by virtue of playing "non conference" games against a team from the best conference in the country.

GS: They don't really have many weak opponents, honestly. I guess consistency against good teams gets them into 12th.

Good for them.

JG: They also pretty consistently give up 1 or 2 goals. Sometimes 3. Rarely more. That'll get tested this weekend.

They were a pretty heavy trap team a few years ago before they became just a terrible team. I haven't seen them enough to know whether that's what's going on this year. #JoeMorgan'd

GS: Looking forward to the predictions for this one. You could make a case for just about anything this week.

JG: Before we wrap this up, I want to discuss one more thing.

via Boston College Athletics

I love this picture.

I love seeing the players in various levels of celebration. I love seeing the manager fired up. And you've got some BC fans in the fancy seats fired up right behind them. All great. And then you've got Jerry York, as cool as can be. Probably thinking :okay, lots more to do."

Dude is just a boss.

GS: Absolutely. Cold as ice.

JG: That lots to do starts this weekend. Hopefully we're talking more trophies this time next week.