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PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS: Boston College Hockey at the IceBreaker

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The season begins with so many questions

casey fitzgerald dustin Dustin Satloff for BC Interruption

GAME FACTS

Who:
Boston College Eagles (0-0-0, 0-0-0 HEA) vs.
Air Force Academy Falcons (0-0-0, 0-0-0 AFA)

University of Denver Pioneers (0-0-0, 0-0-0 NCHC) vs.
Ohio State Buckeyes (0-0-0, 0-0-0 BI6)

What:
IceBreaker Invitational Tournament

When:
Friday’s puck drops:
BC-Air Force at 6:30 PM ET
Denver-Ohio State at 9:30 PM ET

Saturday’s puck drops:
Consolation game at 6:00 PM ET
Championship game at 9:00 PM ET

Where:
Magness Arena, Denver, Colo.

Why:
The IceBreaker invitational is an annual college hockey tradition bringing together four teams from different conferences to kick off the season. For the Eagles, drawing Air Force is no easy task - the Falcons won 20 games last year, and are a veteran-laden team, so this will be a challenge.

How to Watch:
Denver’s games will be streamed on NCHC.TV, but for some reason, despite the fact that a) there are cameras there and b) it’s 20-freaking-16, the non-Denver games are not being shown online. That’s a real shame and something College Hockey Inc. needs to address going forward.

Let’s hope BC is playing Denver in the championship game tomorrow so we can watch it.

How to Listen:

Stream the audio broadcast on BCEagles.com featuring Jon Rish and Tom Grace.

BC STORYLINES

Coming off an exhibition win over Carleton, the Boston College Eagles take their young and unknown roster West for clash with Air Force in the IceBreaker.

The Eagles looked somewhat as advertised on Sunday - fast, hardworking, but certainly raw, and with a lineup that’s going to need some polish before it can take on the best of the best in college hockey.

Chris Calnan sat out Sunday’s game with an injury and Luke McInnis missed it through illness, so keep an eye on the lineup to see if those two will return for the opener tonight

One of the major storylines going in to tonight’s game is who will comprise the 6 players on the blue line. That decision was made for the coaching staff last week with McInnis’s absence, but should he be ready to go tonight, the staff will have to decide which freshman sits (assuming Casey Fitz, Michael Kim and Scott Savage are locks, which seems likely).

Another story to keep an eye on is how the goaltenders are used this weekend. Will Joe Woll start both games? He’s expected to almost certainly get the nod tonight.

GETTING TO KNOW THE OPPONENT

Air Force is perenially a tough, stingy, physical opponent and expects to be no different this season. Last year, the Falcons went 20-12-5 on the year season, including two wins over "major conference" teams - one each against Denver and Colorado College, going 2-2 against their neighboring institutions. Their season ended with an OT loss to RIT in the AHC semifinals.

The Falcons return six of their top seven scorers, including juniors Tyler Ledford (27 points last year) and Ben Kucera (25). Sophomore Shane Starrett (.924 save percentage last season) is expected to start in goal.

THE NUMBERS GAME

Boston College had the top offense last year of any team in this year’s IceBreaker, averaging 3.80 goals per game. Air Force had the lowest-ranked offense at 2.97 per game.

Defensively, Ohio State was the weakest last year of any team in this tournament, allowing 3.47 goals per contest.

Starrett of Air Force had the best SV% last year of any goalie participating in this tournament. His .924 mark was tied for 19th in the country.

THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

BC is 6-0 all time against Air Force and is generally always going to expect to win against an Atlantic Hockey opponent, but the Falcons are a very solid team with a lot of returning players. Given BC’s well-documented youth, we’d call this game a toss-up.

With Denver or Ohio State on the horizon - Denver likely if BC wins and Ohio State likely if BC loses - I’d say a reasonable expectation and hope for BC would be to come out of the weekend with one win. The nightmare scenario is probably losing to Air Force, then OSU upsetting Denver and BC having to play the Pios on Saturday. That would be a tough road matchup for sure and set BC up to possibly limp home 0-2.

RANDOM FACT ABOUT AIR FORCE

All Air Force freshmen must recite the school’s Honor Code:

“We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably.”

OBLIGATORY GIF OF THE WEEK

Last year, Matt Gaudreau provided one of the signature moments of the year with his last-minute game winner against Denver.

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. Last year, Gifford’s Cats won our seasonwide prediction contest. This year, Midnight Sky - our official cat-predictor until he gets adopted - is 0-1, after picking Carleton to win 3-2 last week. Bad kitty.

This week? More pessimism about BC: Midnight is taking Air Force to win the IceBreaker, and BC to come in dead last:

HUMAN PREDICTIONS

Joe Gravellese - Boston College 3, Air Force 2: The Eagles play a tight, competitive first 40 minutes with Air Force, then find a Colin White stroke of magic in the third to win it.

I’ll take Denver to roll past tOSU 4-1. Ohio State falls to Air Force 3-1 in the consolation game. Denver whups BC 5-1 in the finale.

Grant Salzano - BC 3, AFA 1; DU 3, tOSU 1 —- tOSU 2, AFA 1; Denver 3, BC 1

Laura Berestecki - Realistically Denver is going to win but I gotta stay true to my #brand

BC 4 AF 2 - Denver 5 Ohio 1

Ohio 2 AF 0 - BC 4 Denver 3

AJ Black - BC 3 AF 2

Denver 4 Ohio State 1

BC 4 Denver 3 in OT

Jerry York struts to the podium and says "We are a young team but we are dangerous and our expectations are we are going to win every game". And somewhere in Chestnut Hill another coach throws a folding chair at a TV

Arthur Bailin - BC 4 Air Force 1

Denver 5 Ohio State 0

Ohio State 1 Air Force 0

Denver 4 BC 3

John Fidler - BC 4 Air Force 2

Denver 4 Ohio State 1

Ohio State 3 Air Force 2

Denver 5 BC 2

Nick Tremaroli (LetsgoDU.com) - DU 4 OSU 1

BC 2 AFA 1

AFA 3 OSU 2

DU 6 BC 2

PREDICTION CONTEST

In last week’s very important exhibition, BC topped Carleton 4-3. CoachJF picked a 3-2 BC win, which was closest. He now leads the way with one win this year!.

In the fan contest category, JPDot came closest with a predicted 5-3 win. 1 point for him!

LEAVE US YOUR THOUGHTS

How will BC do this weekend out West? Can they come home with at least one win? Leave us your thoughts and score predictions below.