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Boston College Hockey: 6 Things We Learned In The Sweep of Vermont

A look back at the weekend that was for BC hockey.

Boston College went on the road and picked up four key points this weekend in Burlington, putting them in the pole position as the Hockey East season goes in to the final weekend. Here's a look back at some things we observed over the weekend.

1. Penalties are back to (still?) being a huge problem for BC: It seemed like we had hit a bit of a respite in the Eagles' neverending parade to the penalty box. BC's power plays allowed over the previous 4 games were 2, 5, 2, 3 and 4... not exactly perfect discipline, but nothing too out of whack. This weekend, however, they were back to the penalty box parade that defined them earlier in the season, taking 7 and 8 penalties respectively. Part of the problem was getting officials who were calling the game very tight, but the other problem was simply, once again, a lack of discipline. Plenty of BC's penalties this weekend were preventable. A higher-powered team would have made BC pay.

2. The good news is that the penalty kill is still there to save them: BC uses one of the most aggressive penalty kill systems in the country. Watching this series in full was a great chance to see the difference between what BC does on the PK and what a "normal" team like Vermont does. While the Catamounts drop in to a passive box and hope to limit their opponents to shots from the outside, the Eagles swarm all over their opponents, use aggressive sticks to put the pressure on, and pounce immediately and look to jump up ice if the opponent so much as bobbles while handling the puck. It's not a system most teams can get away with unless they have the speed, stick skills and positional awareness the Eagles do. But since BC can get away with it, they use it to incredible effect. The PK went 14 for 15 this weekend, keeping BC at #5 in the nation in PK percentage. They're also second in the nation in shorthanded goals.

3. BC's balance makes them a very dangerous team: Colin White was quiet this weekend, as the Catamounts kept him off the board. No matter. BC's offense still did enough to score 7 goals in 2 games and secure the sweep. Up and down the lineup, BC is dangerous. Once again, scoring distribution was very balanced for BC, with three different goal scorers each night. On Friday night it was Zach Sanford's line that dominated possession, putting on 13 of BC's shot attempts. On Saturday it was Austin Cangelosi's unit that accounted for two of the goals, while Ryan Fitzgerald led the way in terms of shot attempts for BC. On Friday, Matt Gaudreau was limited to 4th line duty with an injury, so Chris Brown slid up in to his spot on the wing and performed well. This team is just incredibly deep and balanced right now, and has so many ways to beat you. There's no single person you can shut down to limit BC's ability to win.

4. Austin Cangelosi has gotten freakishly good at faceoffs: It's not even just his percentage, which is outstanding; Cangelosi had 26 faceoff wins to 18 losses this weekend, and now has a 63.7% winning percentage on the year. It's also where he places his faceoff wins. He's become really good at winning the back to a perfect position for a shooter in the high slot to fire off a wrist shot off the draw. That ability has already gotten BC a couple of goals and several solid scoring opportunities this season, and it could prove clutch down the stretch.

5. Vermont is a competitive team that lacks scoring oomph: In terms of possession, Vermont was pretty much in both games; they in fact led BC in even strength shot attempts on Friday 42-32. In their seemingly never-ending power play opportunities they got good puck movement and possession but were unable to convert their opportunities in to anything too dangerous, aside from when their star Mario Puskarich scored a nice goal in the first period on Saturday. As UVM looks to rebuild, they're in a position where they're well coached and play hard but just don't have guys who can put the puck in the net.

6. BC and Providence are the class of the league, though BU is not far behind: Notre Dame is a good team, but when the margins between the teams are so close it makes a big difference that ND had made it to just before last weekend without having to face either Providence or BU. ND has also benefited from a number of two game homestands against some of the dregs of the league, opportunities for the Irish to rack up four easy points. They're certainly a very good team that will make noise in both the Hockey East and NCAA tournaments, but I think this past weekend, combined with BC's comprehensive win in South Bend a few weeks back, showed that BC and Providence are a cut above the rest of the league right now. BC is 23-4-5 while PC is 23-5-4. We're setting up for a potentially epic clash between these two teams at some point down the stretch. BU is clearly a tick behind those two teams but has been very competitive against both of them, so they'll be heard from in March as well.