After surviving a quarterfinals scare against New Hampshire, the Boston College men’s hockey team will look to earn a spot in the Hockey East championship game when they take on UMass Lowell in a semifinals matchup on Wednesday afternoon. Lowell is coming off of a 2-1 win over second seeded BU, a score that doesn’t really accurately how well the River Hawks played. Lowell outshot BU 29-17 and controlled play for the vast majority of the game. Puck drop for the semifinals matchup will once again be at 4:30 (Providence and UMass playing in the later contest) with NESN once again broadcasting the game.
TEAM STATS - Boston College
Goals For/Game: 3.9
Goals Against/ Game: 2.1
Power Play %: 16.0%
Penalty Kill %: 86.2%
TEAM STATS - UMass Lowell
Goals For/Game: 2.9
Goals Against/Game: 3.2
Power Play %: 17.2%
Penalty Kill %: 76.2%
February 12: Boston College 7 - UML 1: After both teams scored within the first five minutes of the game, BC put on a dominant performance, scoring six unanswered goals to blow out the River Hawks. The Eagles got three power play goals on the night, including the first two of the season from Alex Newhook. Mike Hardman also scored two goals, while Matt Boldy, Drew Helleson, and Casey Carreau had one each as BC turned in one of their best performances of the entire season.
February 13: Boston College 4 - UML 3: Lowell jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one period of play, but BC fought their way back to even terms in the second before scoring two early goals in the third to complete their comeback win. Mike Hardman and Drew Helleson scored on the saem four-on-four to tie things up for BC, while Nikita Nesterenko’s goal just nine seconds into the third period stood up as the eventual game winner. Jack McBain added an insurance tally for the Eagles a few minutes after that to help BC cap off their weekend sweep.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Getting Hot at the Right Time: Since being swept by BC back in February, Lowell has been playing some of their best hockey of the season, having gone 5-1-1 in their last seven games. That record includes their two recent wins over Vermont and BU in the Hockey East tournament, which might stand up as two of their better performances over the entire season. Lowell ended both games with a significant edge in both shots on goal and overall shot attempts, and despite a few close scorelines, they were without question the better team in both games.
No Elite Scorer, but Scoring Depth: Lowell doesn’t have the kind of high end scoring talent that BC does. In terms of points per game, there are only three players on Lowell who would crack the top 8 of BC, and only one who is scoring at a point per game clip (compared to four Eagles). What they do seem to have, however, is a decent bit of scoring depth, with 13 players averaging at least half a point per game. A few of those players only have a handful of games played this season, but even if you take them out, Lowell is still looking at more than 10 players above that marker. They’re a team full of guys who can get it done in any game, even if they lack a true star scoring talent.
Questions Remain in Net: If you remember back to BC’s series against Lowell, there was a lot of talk on both broadcasts about how the River Hawks were still trying to land on a starting goalie, with three different players making their case. Things have cleared up a little bit, with only two goalies getting starts since playing BC, but it still doesn’t seem to be decided yet, as Owen Savory got the start in the tournament game against Vermont before Henry Welsch started against BU over the weekend. Of the two of them, it looks like Savory got the lion’s share of starts down the stretch, but it remains to be seen who will be in net against BC.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Andre Lee leads the River Hawks with 14 points in 18 games and is currently on a four-game point streak. He scored in the second game against BC back in February, but hasn’t actually found the back of the net since.
- Chase Blackmun has nine points in 17 games as a defenseman, including two goals in his last four games. Blackmun had a hat trick way back in January as part of a 9-5 win over Maine.
- Matt Brown leads the River Hawks with seven goals on the season, three of which have come in the Hockey East tournament. Brown scored two in his team’s win over Vermont and added another one this past weekend against BU.
Lowell is a much better team than the one that BC beat 7-1 in their first matchup of the season, and they have been on a bit of a hot streak ever since they last played the Eagles. This feels like another close game, but the River Hawks don’t seem to have a great answer to BC’s top line of Boldy, Newhook, and Hardman. I’ll say BC wins a close one and advances to the championship game.