This season has motored right along, and we have now inexplicably reached the playoffs, even though the season opener was basically just a few minutes ago — so to speak.
Boston College is the regular season Hockey East champion, having locked up the title a full month before the end of the regular season. As the top seed, they’ll face #8 Vermont, a team that gave them fits earlier in the season and could absolutely steal one from BC, but who ended the regular season on a bit of a skid. Vermont hasn’t scored a goal in over 140 consecutive minutes of play — over 7 full periods — which is great news for a BC team looking to give its defense some confidence as we hit the stretch run of trophy season.
Women’s Hockey East Quarterfinals
No. 8 Vermont Catamounts (10-18-5, 7-13-4 WHEA)
at No. 1 Boston College Eagles (28-3-3, 19-2-3 WHEA)
February 23-25, 2018
2pm Fri/Sat, 2pm Sun (if necessary)
How To Watch: ESPN3
I will be representing BCI as color commentator on ESPN3 with play by play announcer Luis Sanchez for Game 2, and, if necessary, Game 3. Be sure to tune in!
Vermont is the best case scenario team for the Eagles to face in the Hockey East quarterfinals. No, the Catamounts are not the weakest team BC could have faced, but that’s the point. The Eagles need some RPI help if they want to hold onto the #2 spot in the Pairwise Rankings even if they win the Hockey East tournament. You can see for yourself by playing with our Pairwise Predictor here.
Despite being ranked right around all the other bottom tier Hockey East teams, beating Vermont gives a respectable Pairwise boost thanks to the structure of their RPI — their very strong Opponent’s Winning Percentage relative to the teams around them means a win over Vermont is worth more than a win over UConn, Merrimack, or BU.
In addition, the Catamounts have a pretty rough goal margin. They are in the unenviable position of having both a below average offense and a below average defense. Still, they’ve shown that they are capable of taking down some good teams with wins over #8 Minnesota (??), #3 Clarkson (???), and a weekend sweep of Northeastern about a month ago.
Last Time Out
Vermont stumbled to a 4-0 loss to Northeastern in their regular season finale, although they did manage to outshot the Hueskies 34-28. Combined with a 0-0 draw to UConn the week before, and Vermont is not sitting at over 7 consecutive periods without scoring a goal.
Boston College cruised to a couple of stress-free 5-0 and 3-1 wins at Maine last weekend, a team that was sitting in 10th in the polls at the time. Maine is pretty comparable to Vermont in that they have a couple of solid offensive threats but no one that’ll really scare you, so hopefully BC can put up a similar weekend.
Can the Eagles continue their improved defensive play and post another shutout or two on the weekend? Can BC avoid a slip up and pull off a stress-free sweep? Will there be some friendly results on the out of town scoreboard that could put BC in control of its own destiny to grab the important #2 spot in the Pairwise? With final Patty Kaz votes in on Monday, can Daryl Watts solidify her position as the favorite to take home the award with a big weekend? Is Katie Burt 100% after an awkward play against Maine where a teammate fell on top of her after a scrum in front of the net? Will Katie Burt continue to play out-of-her-mind hockey like she has the whole the second half?
Random, Possibly Incorrect Fact From Vermont’s Wikipedia Page
The University of Vermont is officially called “The University of Vermont and State Agricultural College.” Neat.
Ice Cream of the Game
Apparently we’re doing “Ice Cream of the Game” this year. Ask Bailin or Laura; I don’t make the rules.
Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk
The Ben & Jerry’s factory is a short hop away from the Unversity of Vermont, which is admittedly a pretty damn cool thing. So eat an entire pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk, which is the undisputed best variety of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
Game Time Song of the Week
Twenty One Pilots — “Heathens”
Have you ever gone to a men’s hockey game in Burlington? Believe me, those people are Heathens.
This weekend has a pretty similar vibe as last weeks. Vermont should, in theory, be a much easier opponent than Maine was, but the Catamounts have given good teams more fits than the Black Bears have this season, despite the far inferior record. This feels like a weekend that could give us one blowout and one frustratingly close one. So I’ll go with a repeat of the scores we saw last week against the Black Bears, with BC sweeping 5-0, 3-1 to head to the Hockey East semifinals.