Boston College recovered from a defensively disastrous performance against Northeastern to mostly lock down Harvard and Minnesota-Duluth and advance to the Frozen Four yet again. Now, the degree of difficulty ratchets up as BC has to take on the #1 team in the country.
To advance to the final, BC will need to shut down the nation's #4-ranked offense, while also cracking one of the stingiest defenses in the country in terms of both goals and shots allowed. Can they do it?
In the Frozen Four nightcap, Denver takes on North Dakota in an all-NCHC clash at 8:30 PM, a rematch of the NCHC's always-riveting Third Place game, which ended 1-1.
#2-seed Boston College Eagles (28-7-5, #5 in the Pairwise rankings) vs.
#1-seed Quinnipiac Bobcats (31-3-7, #1 in the Pairwise rankings)
Date and Time: Thursday, April 7, 2016, 5 PM
Venue: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fla.
BY THE NUMBERS
On paper, Quinnipiac has no weaknesses. They average 3.88 goals scored per game and 1.90 goals allowed per game, a notch ahead of BC in both categories. They also have an outstanding power play and penalty kill that are both top 5 in the country. Unsurprisingly, they're also one of the best teams in the nation in terms of possession and average shot margin.
For BC, their big edge is probably in net. QU's Michael Garteig is no slouch with a .926 save percentage, but Demko has been next-level good and demonstrated an ability to steal wins. If QU stays true to form, they'll probably pump at least 35 shots on net, so Demko will be a huge part of BC's chance for success.
THE PREGAME WATERING HOLE
There are two official BC meetup spots. The BC Alumni Association is hosting an event at Splitsville in Channelside, which requires pre-registration through the Alumni Association website and costs $40 ($30 for GOLD Alumni), with appetizers and drink specials provided. The Pike's Peak Hockey Club headquarters for the weekend will be Ferg's Live, one of the hot spots on the waterfront near Amalie Arena, with outdoor seating and food/drink specials all weekend long.
GIF OF THE GAME
This is it. Time for everything to come together. Games aren't played on paper, and Quinnipiac has rightfully earned its mark as favorite to win this game. But on paper, BC does have weapons up and down the roster, weapons that, if firing all together, should be enough to beat anyone. Can White, Wood, Tuch, McCoshen, Demko and both Fitzgeralds all play their best games of the year? If that happens, BC will win, on the power of sheer talent alone.
As we know, the cats have predicted Quinnipiac to win the national championship. The Gifford Cats currently sit #9 in the BCI Bracket Pool, and they will win the pool outright if the final result is QU over Denver. They can also finish in the money at #2 if Denver beats QU in the final game.
Joe Gravellese: Quinnipiac 4, Boston College 2
BC isn't a monumental underdog here or anything. If BC and Quinnipiac played 100 times, BC would probably win 40-45 of them, and they could easily win this one too. But given that this is a national semifinal, I expect to see both teams play their absolute best games. And sort of like what we saw when BC played Union two years ago, if both teams play at their best, the team that's proven to be slightly better over the course of the season will come out just a bit on top.
This will be a close game where BC will be in it but clearly a tick behind, I think. As they always do, Quinnipiac will likely have a lot of the puck and will probably outshoot BC (I'm going to officially guess 36-27). Demko will play well, but QU will be just a little bit too much to handle, especially with Sam Anas having another two weeks to rest up after playing pretty well despite being banged up in regionals.
QU will either add an ENG or a counter-attack goal to break the back after BC pressures for a game-tying goal in the final minutes, and punch their ticket to the final.
In the late game, I'm feeling Denver, as I have all season. I'll go with Denver 4, North Dakota 3 in a star-studded barnburner, setting up an interesting NCAA final.
I agree with everything Joe said about this game. I'll go with Quinnipiac 3, Boston College 2. In the late game, I'll take North Dakota, also 3-2.
I agree with your analysis but for whatever reason, the sports gods have been good to me lately. So I'm going with BC 4, Quinnipiac 3.
If any of you think I'm not picking BC, you're crazy. BC 3, Quinnipiac 2. Also, Denver 2, North Dakota 1.
Will BC advance to the national championship game? Leave your thoughts in a comment here, or join the conversation on Twitter. Let's go BC - keep it going and knock off the Bobcats!