Boston College men’s hockey returns to the ice for a real, honest-to-goodness game that counts in front of fans tomorrow at 4:30 PM, when they take on Quinnipiac to open up the IceBreaker tournament at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA.
BC is coming off a solid 4-1 exhibition win over AIC last week which gave us a sneak peek at BC’s new lines and some idea of how the freshmen and the grad transfers factor in to Jerry York’s plans as the season opens up.
The IceBreaker is played as a non-bracketed ‘showcase’ format, with fixed matchups.
On Friday, BC plays Quinnipiac, and then in the nightcap, Northeastern takes on Holy Cross. Saturday’s early game features Northeastern and Quinnipiac, while BC will round things out against Holy Cross in the evening.
Friday’s game at 4:30 is on NESN+, while Saturday night’s 7:30 game is on NESN.
Let’s take a look at BC’s opponents.
Quinnipiac is rated #9 in the season-opening USCHO poll and comes in to the Icebreaker as an intriguing team, a dark-horse national contender who generated some hype with their roster moves this summer, and tough matchup for BC. QU was voted #1 in the preseason coaches poll after topping the ECAC’s strange, four-team regular season last year.
The Bobcats ran roughshod over UMaine in an exhibition game last weekend, smoking the Black Bears 7-0, so that should give some indicator of where they’re at currently.
QU is coming off a 17-8-4 season with a 10-4-4 record in ECAC play. They qualified for the NCAA tournament, and took Minnesota State to overtime before losing 4-3.
The Bobcats bring back an experienced team, with 5 senior/grad student defensemen and 6 senior/grad forwards. They lost their top scorer in Odeen Tufto, but bring back 4 of their top 5, including Ethan de Jong and Ty Smilanic, who both notched 14 goals in a 29-game campaign. Zach Metsa returns as a pre-season All-ECAC defenseman, leading a talented blue line corps.
What makes this roster particularly intriguing is some of the transfers they brought in, including Oliver Chau who comes over to QU after winning a title at UMass. They also brought in goalie Dylan St. Cyr from Notre Dame, who should seamlessly replace Keith Petruzzelli, an outstanding keeper for QU who was lost to graduation.
Quinnipiac probably comes in as the favorite to win a solid ECAC and will be a tough matchup for BC right out of the gate. The Eagles have had a rough go historically against QU, with an 0-3-1 all-time record. The first matchup against them was BC’s loss to the Bobcats in the 2016 Frozen Four. They lost to QU 1-0 early in the 2018-19 season in Hamden, and tied them 1-1 at BC in 2017.
The Crusaders will hope for some success on home ice at the DCU Center and they go straight in to the fire by facing off against two Hockey East teams.
Their first crack against a Hockey East team came last weekend at BU in an exhibition and it didn’t go well, with the Terriers trouncing them 5-1.
The game was Bill Riga’s first behind the bench at Holy Cross, who took over this summer after 13 years as a deputy under Rand Pecknold at Quinnipiac. He replaces David Berard, who ended his tenure at HC after last year with an 84-116-34 record.
Holy Cross went 4-12 in an abbreviated 2020-21 campaign, including a brutal 10-game losing streak that stretched from December 22 to the end of the season. They will hope a new staff means a fresh start for the program, which has found periods of success mixed with struggles.
The good news for HC is that they return their senior goalie Erik Gordon as well as their leading scorer in Alex Peterson (4-5—9 in 12 games). The bad news is that there’s not a huge infusion beyond that, as Riga’s rebuild just beginning.