Both Boston College and Providence enter this weekend looking to save their NCAA tournament hopes and make a final push at the end of the season to at least be competitive in the Hockey East tournament.
Boston College Eagles (10-9-3) vs. Providence Friars (15-9-1)
Friday January 21st @ 7pm
Saturday January 22nd @ 6:30pm
Friday’s game: Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA
Saturday’s game: Schneider Arena in Providence, RI
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BC and Providence are going to be jostling for Hockey East playoff seeding and a potential tournament bid for the rest of the regular season, so these games are important. The Eagles and Friars are currently tied at 4th in the HEA standings with 19 points apiece and each team having played 13 conference games, so they’re neck-and-neck. BC’s conference schedule for the rest of the season is going to be tough as 5 of their remaining 9 games are against the conference’s top 3 teams (UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell, Northeastern). Meanwhile, Providence has just 3 such games on their remaining 9 game conference schedule. So the Eagles really will want to pull out a couple wins here to keep their conference seeding (and tournament hopes) alive.
Providence is coming into this game on a bit of a skid. They got swept by Merrimack last weekend and tied Wisconsin back in December. The Friars haven’t defeated a Hockey East opponent since November 20th against UVM, having been swept by Merrimack and Northeastern since then. Boston College is entering this game on a similar skid, having been swept by UNH last weekend, losing terribly to Notre Dame on Wednesday, and not having won a conference match-up since playing Maine on November 18th.
On the ice, these teams should be pretty comparable. Providence’s defensive play is a bit better than Boston College’s, and the Friars have a goalie in Jaxson Dart with a .922 SV% this season well above BC’s starter Eric Dop (.890 SV%). It remains to be seen whether the Eagles will start goalie Henry Wilder in net instead of the struggling Dop, especially after Wilder gave up a slew of goals to the Fighting Irish in his last appearance and was pulled early. Boston College’s offense is a step above Providence, though, and the potential return of players like Jack McBain, Nikita Nesterenko, and others should boost the Eagles even further there.
This one’s a toss-up in my eyes. Both teams have been playing shaky and can’t seem to string together wins enough to make serious NCAA tournament runs. I’ll say that the BC defense probably lets up lots of goals in both games again like they did against UNH, but the offense rebounds a bit and they’re able to outscore PC in game 2 to split the series.
Friday: Providence 5 BC 3
Saturday: BC 5 Providence 4