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Boston College Men’s Hockey: Breaking Down the Boston University Series

What did we learn this weekend?

Kathryn Riley-BC Interruption

The Boston College Eagles went into Friday and Monday’s games against archrival Boston University with solidifying their lead in the Hockey East standings. Instead, the Terriers won two games on the weekend, sweeping the series, and the Eagles now have a challenger for the top spot in the league.

What did we learn this weekend? Here’s what we got:

1. The Boston College Eagles will go as far as Joe Woll will take them.

Just by the oft-cited eye test, Woll was tested heavily during the series. In fact, BU had 20 Grade-A chances on Woll. For the most part, Woll was up to the task, frequently bailing out some of his teammates in front of him. This has begun to be a frequent narrative for the Eagles. The reality is that, in college hockey, teams will only go as far as goalies will take them (just ask last-place Northeastern, with Ryan Ruck in net), but Woll appears to be taking a much more important role for the Eagles. While Woll has more than proved that he is capable of bailing out BC’s offense in big game situations, the offense hasn’t proven that it is good enough to bail out its goaltender. Until the offense improves, Woll needs to be on his game night in and night out.

2. BC settled for non-Grade-A chances, not testing Oettinger

The shot charts tell an interesting story for the Eagles:

First Period Shot Chart
Second Period Shot Chart
Third Period Shot Chart

By and large, the Eagles were forced to take less-than-spectacular shots, with the Eagles only registering 11 shots from a Grade-A area, only seven of which necessitated a save by BU netminder Jake Oettinger. Jerry York and David Quinn both attributed the lack of Grade-A chances for the Eagles to the play of the BU defense, and the defensive corps for the Terriers definitely deserves credit. At the end of the day, however, being forced to take most shots from above the circles isn’t going to test one of the better goaltenders in Hockey East. As Oettinger himself put it:

“I think [BU’s defensemen] did a great job making it easy on me, I don’t think I had to make any big Grade-A saves.”

Two of BU’s three goals came from Grade-A chances. Getting more opportunities- and better opportunities- was the difference for the Terriers Monday evening.

3. The Student Section Needs Immediate and Fundamental Help

Before angry students start throwing things at me whilst walking across the quad, let me just say the following: I’m right about this and I’m not the only one who thinks this.

The student section was easily the largest it has been all year, with students crowding the upper deck to the point of overcrowding. Yet, it was thoroughly unengaged and quiet throughout the game. Even when the BU student section baited the BC students with it’s “Sunday School Chant,” the BC students were either unwilling, or just too apathetic to even acknowledge the chant. Only the occasional “Let’s Go Eagles,” or chants of the like arose from the student sections.

It’s not enough to show up. It’s not enough just to occupy space in the arena. What’s the point of having a student section if it doesn’t add anything to the energy in the arena, because if we’re being completely honest that’s all the student section was good for Monday night– occupying space and nothing more.

A lot of the problems with the student section can be attributed to the absolute lack of student section attendance throughout the season, but that has been a problem through my three years at BC. For the past two years, though, it seemed that BU was the one time the students came out and cheered. Now, even the BU game was a dud.

I don’t know if it takes an Athletics initiative to interject life into the student section, or a grassroots effort by the students to get the student section back in order. Monday evening was unacceptable. Get it together.