Joseph Gravellese: Going into the three-week Christmas break, BC is right back where they started when it comes to the goaltending controversy.
In their previous starts, Brian Billett and Thatcher Demko both got torched for five goals in tough losses.
Billett responded last Friday night by making 39 saves in BC's 6-2 win over UNH -- including keeping the Eagles in the game as the Wildcats completely dominated the first period.
Just when it looked like Billett had taken the lead, Demko responded with an outstanding performance of his own, backstopping BC to a win in Durham in a game in which they were outshot 29-19, allowing two lethal finishes to be enough to earn a tough road win.
This time two weeks ago we were looking at Demko and Billett both being near the bottom of the Hockey East goaltending stats list. And, well, they still are (13th and 11th in SV%, respectively). But those were two nice performances -- aided by an all-around improvement on the blue line, especially last Saturday night.
Grant Salzano: Yes, it's funny how they've been playing in tandem. At least this time it was good news as both of then played pretty incredibly. And so we continue to run with the rotation.
You bring up an interesting point on the defense. I think it was MacLeod and Linell? who were both +2 in the Saturday game, a game that we only scored two goals.
Obviously doesn't tell the whole story but they were improved.
I'm interested to see if you've noticed (because I'm really not sure) but based on the goalscorers is looks like Jerry has been putting the bottom D pairings out with the top line. That would probably go a long way towards minimizing the damage.
JG: Yes, they were both plus players on Saturday after a rougher night on Friday. Which was nice to see, for their sakes.
Teddy Doherty stepped in to the lineup and didn't miss a beat, even getting on the board with a goal on Friday. He played well. I think he'll continue to be in the mix going forward -- though I have to say, I don't know what Savage did to lose his spot. But I guess when you're a freshman, you're going to be on the bubble, unless you're Steve Santini and putting up ridiculous numbers (1-1-2, +4!!! on Friday night).
GS: I'm glad you brought up Doherty and The Great Santini.
Doherty has looked really good. Like you said, I really hope that he's earned his way into the lineup on a regular basis.
That is a grown ass man.
I sat pretty much on the glass at UNH and he *jacked up* some poor Wildcat (which is becoming a pretty regular occurrence).
The kid knows how to make a clean hit. Like, really, really well. Because there were a couple of huge hits last week that were as clean as they come. The one in front me me along the glass at UNH, Santini jacked him up and immediately stopped what he was doing and looked at the ref.
He probably shouldn't have stopped what he was doing... But it was pretty funny.
I almost wonder if somehow Santini is getting a reputation as a *clean* big hitter. Be since that's a couple games in a row now.
JG: Well, I know Jerry York was pretty vocal after his ejection against UMass that it was a good hockey hit and that it was a bad call. You don't really see him going to the media with his disagreements about officials that often. We all know the refs have been infamously susceptible to outside pressure in this league, so maybe that's had something to do with it. When Santini leveled a UNH player his next shift after scoring on Friday night, I immediately looked to the refs and figured I'd see an arm would go up, but it didn't happen.
And that's good news for Santini, because his game is certainly partially predicated on bringing the lumber.
But really, he's been a revelation all around. He's chipped in quite a bit offensively, and has been a rock on the blue line for the Eagles. It's hard to imagine where that unit would be without him.
We are going to have to figure out life without Santini pretty quickly as he will join the brigade of Eagles shipping off to Sweden for the World Junior championship.
That's a topic we can get into a little more next week as we look ahead to the First Annual Pittsburgh Classic Thing.
GS: If BC hockey wins two games and no one is able to see it, do they still count?
JG: Good question. I recall BC-Air Force in the 2007 Mariucci Classic being a "hidden game" only available on the radio. Even last year's BC-'Bama-Huntsville clash had a livestream. Looks like that won't be the case for these games; lame.
GS: Ridiculous. What is this, the 90s?
JG: Aye. The good news is, they'll probably be ugly games between the midmajor competition and BC's missing pieces. So it's best to just follow along and hope for good results, probably.
We'll end it there for this Banter with a couple weeks until those games in Pittsburg. But check back in with BC Interruption in the coming days as we take a detailed look back at the first half for BC hockey and Hockey East, and make some predictions for the rest of the year.