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Hockey Banter, Week V: With Apologies To The United States Military Academy

Yeah, no, that wasn't very enjoyable.

Graham Beck, BC Heights Sports

Joseph Gravellese: The hockey weekend has snuck up on us, thanks to the holiday weekend and a weird Thursday game at UMass.

After weathering the early season storm, BC is now on a four-game win streak and sits at 6-2-1 heading into this home-and-home with the Minutemen, featuring two very winnable games.

But before we chat about that, let me start with a plea to my man Brad Bates, and to Sir Jerry of York:

Far be it from me to question the scheduling of said Jerry of York, but I do humbly request that next year's apparently scheduled game at Army be canceled.

Under normal circumstances, seeing BC score double digits would have been an all-time highlight. But watching that disparity on ice -- especially against a service academy -- was actually quite difficult to watch.

I suppose it's possible that the disparity will be a little less next year. Army is realllly down this year, and we might not have Gaudreau, but it just felt wrong to watch that game. Unlike in other sports, you can't really make mass substitutions and put in all the backups in hockey.

Let's not do that again.

(And, to make sure I'm being perfectly clear, because there was confusion about this on Twitter: I mean absolutely no disrespect to Army here. I'm not trying to put them down. I obviously have utmost respect for Army's student-athletes (who, as one astute commenter pointed out, most definitely do not 'suck at life,' as the students might say). Which is why I took no joy in seeing BC hang double digits on them.)

Grant Salzano: It's a very difficult situation. Army's coach seemed to imply in his post-game comments that BC was the one who reached out to schedule the series. It would be a little difficult for us to turn around and cancel it.

No one is pointing out that regardless of the fact that it *did* happen, it just *shouldn't* happen that a D1 team puts up double digits on another D1 team. It's exceedingly rare. Look at what happened last year when we played BAMA-Huntsville. That was no blowout. And look at Sacred Heart vs. Lowell.

Hell, Army just beat Sacred Heart on Tuesday. Handily, I might add.

Expanding that out even further... Army > Sacred Heart > Lowell > Michigan > BC.


Anyway, I would argue that if you were to put BC and Army on the ice another 10 times, BC would score double digits zero times in those 10 games.

I think such a blowout was a fluke. Like I said, it just never happens. There's a reason we havent scored 11 goals since goalies weren't allowed to drop down to the ice.

JG: I don't know if I agree with that. Having watched the game live, I don't think it was a fluke. I think it really was a horrible mismatch in terms of speed and talent. Especially the speed part. And they had no answer for Gaudreau (granted the same can be said for some teams with a full compliment of scholarships).

But, you're right, I did also hear that BC reached out to schedule the series. It seems like York likes the idea of the team going to West Point next year, and giving them a marquee home game at a time when lower-tier teams are having trouble filling their schedules.

But yeah, that was pretty rough to watch.

To shift gears and focus on the BC side of things: You've got to be feeling pretty good about the way the Eagles have performed over the past two weekends. Especially given that Gaudreau seems to be replicating his scorching early-season pace from last year (though the hope is that it continues all year this time).

GS: The most encouraging this about Gaudreau, to me, is that he scored on *two* breakaways. That's been his Achilles Heel lately. He's been getting at least one breakaway opportunity per game and if hes going to score on half of them... well, you do the math.

To that point -- when was the last time there was someone with such overwhelming Hobey hype, anywhere in the country? Every audio broadcast, every TV game, every highlight reel... All they talk about is Gaudreau.

It's warranted, but it's CRAZY how intense it's gotten. He's had one of the top 5 plays of the week for the last 3 weeks now. Even the actual NCAA twitter feed is saying things like "Is Gaudreau here again? You guessed it..."

JG: It's hard to say. I usually drown Hobey stuff out. I know you've been the world's #1 Hobey cheerleader...

GS: ...


JG: ...but I tend to honestly not care. But it certainly does seem like he would have to really drop off from what he's done his entire career in order to NOT win it.

GS: Well, I certainly care. It's a lot of pride for the school. And particularly this year where it appears we might win both the Hobey and Patty Kaz in the same year, which would be unprecedented.

It's fun to follow, anyway.

JG: It's fun to follow, but certainly not my focus.

And yes, Skarupa is absolutely shattering expectations this year. She didn't necessarily start the year as a Patty Kaz favorite, but she's got to be on the radar now. How far ahead of everyone is she on the scoring list at this point?

GS: She's really starting to pull away.

She has 33% more goals than 2nd place and 50% more goals than 3rd place. She's averaging *more than* a goal per game.

JG: From a team perspective (back to the men's side of things), the best news is that they played 120 minutes this weekend and gave up one goal.

Granted, Army. But still.

More telling: they gave up SIX (6) even-strength shots against BU. Six!

Now, McLaughlin let us know ahead of time that we shouldn't expect BU to carry much sustained pressure but even expecting them to get outshot, you don't expect that much of a disparity. And while Billett had his second game of the year where he could basically set up a hammock between the goalposts and still win the game, he continues to be solid in net, maintaining a healthy competition with Demko in which both are doing well.

Demko once again has the taller ask this week as he'll lead the charge in the game at Mullins.

GS: Yeah I havent changed my opinion on the goalies. They both have played solid and well enough enough to stay in rotation, with Demko having a slight advantage.

Not sure this weekend will change that either.

JG: UMass is in a bit of disarray after last weekend, getting completely roasted by UNH, but overall they've been fairly competitive this season, sweeping Michigan State and taking three points against Maine.

While BC has a very good record against UMass over the past 4-5 years (okay, over the past forever), the last game against UMass was pretty terrible, when the Minutemen pasted us at Conte. That was probably the worst loss of the season; hopefully that serves as a motivating factor. UMass traditionally has played us tough at the Mullins Center (last year's game required a late comeback and OT to win, not unlike this year at Matthews).

They are dealing with an injury tot heir goalie Mastelerz, which will put them in a tough spot if he's unavailable. I think he could steal a game against BC, but I like the Eagles' chances to sweep quite a bit if he's out.

GS: It wasn't that long ago that UMass was our annual whipping boy, where we had something like a 10 game winning streak on them. Now it feels like every game is a battle.

I think BC is really starting to hit a nice stride though. Whether or not Mastelerz is there shouldn't really matter in this series because BC seems to really have some firepower at the moment.

That is a pretty decent start to the season they've put together though. Tip of the cap to that.

JG: Other quick hits on the hockey week that was and will be: two Hockey East foes saw off Ivy League competition on Tuesday night, with Lowell edging Princeton and UNH topping Brown -- nothing to see there, move along, though the UML game was tighter than they maybe would have liked (a one goal win).

UNH-Northeastern is a pretty intriguing home-and-home this weekend.

GS: Yes it is... NU is still hanging around. How good are they? We're quickly leaving small sample size territory.

JG: For sure. I mean, their sample size against legitimate competition is still small, but they looked good against BC.

GS: That UNH series should tell us more.

JG: Definitely. I think as much as UMass sucking last weekend, the story was UNH getting on track. A little statistical correction if you will. They're much better than they showed early on.

GS: And I have a feeling NU might see the opposite statistical correction eventually... although since we already have two wins on them, hopefully they hang around and win some games.

I guess that's it for this week. Hockey... tonight! That was quick. Alright then, Go Eagles.