The Boston College men’s hockey team will get their postseason started on Sunday afternoon when they take on New Hampshire in a Hockey East quarterfinals matchup. The Eagles topped the Hockey East Power Index to close the regular season and get a first round bye while New Hampshire traveled to Maine and knocked off the Black Bears 7-2 in order to keep their season alive. Puck drop will be at 4:30 and the game will be aired on NESN, while the radio broadcast will be available on WEEI.
Boston College UNH
Record 16-4-1 6-13-3
Goals For/Game 3.9 2.6
Goals Against/Game 2.2 3.9
Power Play % 15.8% 18.1%
Penalty Kill % 85.7% 65.9%
January 8: UNH 4 - Boston College 3 (OT): BC welcomed back Alex Newhook, Matt Boldy, and Drew Helleson from World Juniors, but it was UNH who came away with the overtime win, scoring a power play goal with just 25 seconds left. Henry Wilder started in net for the Eagles, who got goals from Colby Ambrosio, Nikita Nesterenko, and Patrick Giles.
January 10: Boston College 3 - UNH 2 (OT): UNH scored a power play goal with seven minutes left in regulation, and BC took a penalty with one second left in regulation, but Marc McLaughlin scored a shorthanded goal just 25 seconds into overtime to give BC the win. New Hampshire outshot the Eagles 29-26, but Spencer Knight made 27 stops in his first start for BC since returning from World Juniors. Casey Carreau and Mike Hardman also scored in the victory.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Special Teams Battle: UNH did most of their damage against BC this season while they were not at even strength, going 3/12 in their two games series and adding a shorthanded goal as well. BC, meanwhile, went just 1/8 while on the power play in addition to McLaughlin’s shorthanded tally. New Hampshire’s penalty kill is currently ranked last in the nation (though they do have four shorthanded goals), so if there was ever a weekend for BC’s power play to show up, this would be the one.
Stumbling to the Finish Line: After knocking off BC back on January 8, New Hampshire had just two wins in their next 14 games to finish the regular season (not including two shootout wins). They did sweep a series against UMass Lowell, but lost some ugly games in that stretch as well, including a 7-0 loss to Northeastern, an 8-3 loss to UConn, and both a 5-2 and a 6-2 loss to Merrimack. They bounced back on Wednesday with a 7-2 drubbing of Maine, however, so maybe they’re coming out of their spiral at the right time.
A Thorn in BC’s Side: With that said, New Hampshire has played BC as tough as anyone in the conference the past few seasons. In addition to the two overtime games the teams played back in January, UNH pushed the Eagles in all three of their games in 2019-20 as well. BC went 1-1-1 against New Hampshire last season, with two of the three games going to overtime and BC’s lone win coming by a goal. For whatever reason, despite not getting the best results over the past few seasons, UNH has given BC fits in all of their matchups, so get ready for another close one on Sunday afternoon.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Jackson Pierson leads the Wildcats with 25 points in 22 games. He is riding a four-game point streak and has at least one point in all but six games this season.
- Angus Crookshank is tied for second on the team in points (18 in 19 games) and is tied for the team lead in goals with nine. He scored four goals about a month ago in an overtime win against UMass Lowell and scored against BC earlier in the season.
- Kalle Eriksson leads the defensemen with 18 points, 13 of which have come on the power play. He scored a goal in Wednesday’s win over Maine.
- Mike Robinson is the likely starter in net, having started 20 of the team’s 22 games on the season. Robinson currently has an unimpressive .879 save percentage on the season, but stopped 58 of the 64 shots he faced against BC earlier this season for a .906 clip.
New Hampshire has been a tough matchup for BC over the last two seasons, with four of their five games going to overtime. Still, UNH was going through a real rough stretch before knocking off Maine, and BC should certainly have matchups that they can exploit, particularly with New Hampshire’s bottom two lines and on the penalty kill. It’s hard to predict a blowout with the way that this series has gone recently, but this still feels like a game that BC should win.