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PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS: Boston College Hockey vs. Wisconsin

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A two-game set begins tonight - how will it play out?

Boston College v Wisconsin Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

GAME FACTS

Who:

Boston College Eagles (1-1-0, 0-0-0 HEA) at

Wisconsin Badgers (1-1-0, 0-0-0 B1G)

What:

Nonconference hockey series

When:

Friday, October 14, 2016, 8:00 PM ET (7:00 PM CT)

Sunday, October 16, 2016, 4:00 PM ET (3:00 PM CT)

Where:

Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin

Why:

This is going to be a fun series. The Wisconsin Badgers bottomed out the last two seasons but go in to this year with renewed hope, featuring newly-hired head coach Tony Granato and a stellar recruiting class. This is Wisconsin’s home opener under the new regime, and BC is sure to get the Badgers’ best effort.

How to Watch:

Friday night’s game will be on NESN in New England, Fox Sports West in Wisconsin, and available nationally on DirecTV as well as Comcast’s Fox College Sports Atlantic channel.

How to Listen:

Stream the audio broadcast on BCEagles.com featuring Tom Grace.

BC STORYLINES

The Eagles held on for a win on Saturday night at Denver, edging the Pioneers 3-1 with an empty net goal despite being barraged with DU shots in the third period. Freshman goalie Joe Woll stood tall in net and preserved BC’s lead. David Cotton scored the game-winner, tipping home a Chris Brown shot in the second period.

The young Eagles will look to build on this momentum this weekend in a hostile environment. A few things to keep an eye on:

-What will the first line look like? Both JD Dudek and Matt Gaudreau skated with Colin White and Ryan Fitzgerald in week one.

-Will BC be healthy? Chris Calnan and Casey Fitzgerald were held out for “precautionary reasons” against Denver, which suggests they should be back this weekend.

-Can Woll build off his performance against Denver?

GETTING TO KNOW THE OPPONENT

You wouldn’t know it from their record the last two seasons, but Wisconsin has a lot of talent on their roster.

Wisconsin has four NHL draft picks on the roster. Luke Kunin, a sophomore, was the 15th overall pick in the first round by the Minnesota Wild. The Badgers added three freshman drafted players this year, including Bruins first rounder Trent Frederic. Wisconsin also returns leading scorer and senior Grant Besse, who led the team with 33 points last year.

The Badgers have pledged to play an up-tempo, attacking style of hockey this year under Granato - and delivered last weekend in their win, beating Northern Michigan 6-5. They lost 3-2 in the season opener to NMU. Either way... 8-8 on aggregate. There was plenty of scoring.

Sophomore Matt Jurusik is Wisconsin’s goalie. He struggled last year, posting a 3.45 GAA and a .892 sv%. BC throttled him in last year’s home opener at Conte Forum. We’ll see how things go tonight.

THE NUMBERS GAME

There’s not a lot you can glean from team stats this early in the season, but one national trend is worth keeping an eye on: penalties. The median team nationally has a little under 16 PIM per game so far, and games all over the country featured tons of power plays. Expect each team to probably get at least 5-6 cracks on the PP, if not 7, 8 or more, based on the way refs have been calling games.

BC’s power play is currently #37 in the nation at 9.09%, while Wisconsin sizzled for 31.25% in their opening weekend.

Austin Cangelosi is tied for 5th in the nation in goals with 3 so far.

THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

Based on last year’s record you’d expect BC to sweep Wisconsin, but obviously a lot has changed for both teams since these two last met. Wisconsin will be much improved last year, and will be jacked-and-pumped about their huge home opening weekend. I’d expect these two games to both be challenging.

A split is a reasonable expectation, and coming home with three points would be a nice accomplishment.

RANDOM FACT ABOUT WISCONSIN

Despite the fact that All the Kessels are from Madison, Wisconsin, they all went and played hockey elsewhere- most notably Phil and Amanda at Minnesota. What up with that?

OBLIGATORY GIF OF THE WEEK

This GIF tells you a bit about how Wisconsin’s season went last year.

CAT PREDICTIONS

Cat predictions are brought to you by the adoptable cats of the Gifford Cat Shelter, the nation’s oldest cageless, no-kill shelter - located near BC on Undine Road in Brighton.

Midnight Sky is retiring from predictions after this week, because he’s finally been adopted. Woooo! Did he pick BC this week?

Nope, not even once. We’ll see how he does for an encore after correctly predicting Air Force would win last week’s tournament. (HOW?!)

HUMAN PREDICTIONS

Joe Gravellese - Wisconsin 4, BC 3 tonight — an early momentum surge pushes Wisconsin past the young Eagles.

BC recovers to play a full 60 and beat Wisconsin 3-0 on Sunday.

Grant Salzano - BC 2, Wisconsin 2.... BC 3, Wisconsin 2

Laura Berestecki - BC 3, Wisco 1... BC 5, Wisco 3

Arthur Bailin - BC 2, UW 1... BC 4, UW 3

Eric Hoffses - BC 2, UW 1.... UW 5, BC 2

Jon Beidelschies (Bucky’s 5th Quarter) - Wisconsin 4, BC 3... BC 4, Wisconsin 2

PREDICTION CONTEST

Well, wouldn’t you know it... Midnight Sky from the Gifford Cats wins. Unbelievable. He was the only predictor to go 2-2 on the weekend. Everyone else was 0-4. Literally everyone. Unless we’re going to give credit to people who picked BC to beat Denver in the final as half-a-win.

Same deal on the fan side. BCJacket5’s pick of 3-1 BC over DU in the final was the closest thing to being somewhat accurate, so he gets the point for the week.

Standings

CoachJF 1
Gifford Cats 1
JPDot 1
BCJacket5 1

LEAVE US YOUR THOUGHTS

Excited to catch BC hockey on TV twice this weekend? Looking forward to seeing what Wisconsin can do under Granato? Optimistic after the Denver game? Leave us your thoughts and score predictions below.