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PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS: Boston College Hockey vs. North Dakota Fighting Hawks

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It’s a NYC showdown!

NCAA Mens Hockey - Frozen Four - Semifinals - North Dakota vs Boston College Photo by G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images

The College Hockey Showdown at Madison Square Garden:

#8 Boston College Eagles (12-4-1, 7-0-1 Hockey East) vs.
#13 North Dakota Fighting Hawks (7-5-3, 2-3-1 NCHC)

Saturday, December 3, 2016 - 7:30 PM
CBS Sports Network
WEEI 850 AM

Welcome To New York:

Despite the lack of a D1 hockey team in New York City (for now... get on that, Fordham/Columbia/St. John’s/someone), college hockey has gained some traction in the city with games taking place more frequently at Madison Square Garden - most notably, Cornell’s annual appearance at MSG.

However, this is the first time BC will be a part of a MSG hockey event. Hopefully, it won’t be the last time, either another big regular season game, or perhaps a future Frozen Four in Brooklyn or at the Garden?

Everybody here wanted something more:

North Dakota’s title defense hasn’t gotten off to the best start, with a 7-5-3 record and an 0-1-1 weekend last week against lowly Michigan State. Though North Dakota brought back a number of stars from last year’s team, including Brock Boeser and senior defenseman Gage Ausmus, they did lose a lot, and their offense is suffering for it.

It's shocking to look at the national scoring list and see North Dakota tied for #28 in the nation, averaging 3 goals per game. They have way too many weapons to stay that low for long and will be looking for a breakout game.

On the other side, BC has exceeded expectations so far, but has mostly done so against a light schedule. Aside from their win at Denver, BC's biggest pairwise win was a victory over #22 Wisconsin. The Eagles are currently 1-2 against teams that would be in the NCAA tournament field as of today (granted, it's ridiculously early for that kind of thing). So, this is a biggie for BC for both pairwise purposes and for solidifying themselves as serious contenders.

It’s not going to be easy for BC, as they continue to deal with the absence of Ryan Fitzgerald, out for about 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain. In Fitzgerald’s absence, JD Dudek and Matt Gaudreau flanked Colin White on the top line on Tuesday, with David Cotton stepping up to the second line wing with Austin Cangelosi and Christopher Brown.

Graham McPhee was given a chance for a bigger role, playing alongside Julius Mattila and Chris Calnan. If BC is going to continue to attack with balance and depth, that line will need to produce. Though they did not score on Tuesday, they combined for 8 shots.

It’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat:

Boston College is basically an entirely new team from last season: 13 freshmen are on the roster, and some of the older players are playing much different, much bigger roles. This includes Chris Brown and JD Dudek, two players who were buried behind a bevy of high end NHL prospects on the depth chart last year but are emerging as top players for BC this season.

The theme of this season has been balance, and new heroes stepping up each night.

Some of Boston College’s best teams in recent years have been full of players who have been better BC players than they were pro prospects. This team seems to be building that kind of identity as well, and it’s fun to watch.

The lights are so bright, but they never blind me:

Call Boston College Hockey the traveling road show: they’re on an arena tour this season. Madison Square Garden is the biggest, but they’ve also played games at the DCU Center, Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena, and the XL Center; later this season, they’ll play at the Penguins’ PPG Paints Arena, Fenway Park, and TD Garden. Hopefully after that, they’ll be at TD Garden again, an AHL arena for the tournament, and maybe the United Center?

If my count is correct, Jerry York’s BC teams will now have played in 8 different NHL arenas, with a 9th forthcoming in December and a theoretical #10 if they advance to the Frozen Four.

Everybody here was someone else before:

DID YOU KNOW: The University of North Dakota hockey team was not always known as the “Fighting Hawks?” That’s right, for three seasons, they were known simply as “The University of North Dakota.”

Believe it or not, BC’s first animal representation was a cat, representing the track team in a Heights cartoon. Reverend Edward McLaughlin didn't like that one bit, and pressed BC to adopt the Eagle mascot. Thus, BC’s mascot changed, and nobody even had a hissy fit over it. Except maybe Rev. McLaughlin. (Get it? HISSy fit? Cat? Never mind.)

Speaking of cats:

Mimi the cat is predicting a 4-3 Boston College win over North Dakota in overtime.

You can adopt Mimi at the Gifford Cat Shelter, located right near BC on Undine Road in Brighton. Do it!

Like any true love, it drives you crazy

The intensity level has ratcheted up as fall has turned toward winter. BC has had a flair for the dramatic in recent weeks:

  • A game winning goal with under two minutes to play against UNH on November 8
  • A game against Harvard that was white-knuckle until it all fell apart in one crazy minute
  • Tuesday night’s last minute game winner at Northeastern

We expect to see another emotional game tomorrow night.

I was reminiscing just the other day

BC and North Dakota are tied in their all-time series, 11-11-1, though BC has had the upper hand in the last 11 years.

We talked about some of the recent history yesterday, but commenter EagleNY added some other history:

“In 1999 we beat (in my opinion) the best North Dakota team from the 99-01 trilogy to win the Western Regional and advance to the Frozen Four. Game was played at the old Wisconsin Arena in Madison. We played Northern Michigan the previous night, the Sioux came in off a bye. Jeff Blake, both Panzer brothers, Mike Commodore, Lee Goren, that was a stacked North Dakota team. They were #1 in the country for all but the first 2 or 3 weeks of the season. Anyway, early in the third period Jeff Giuliano broke a 1-1 tie with a laser of a wrist shot. Their D man had trouble fielding a puck that had been flipped high into the air and into their zone. Jeff poked it through the guy’s legs and put his head down and ripped a wrister that beat Goehring high glove from about 35 feet. Scott Clemmensen made it stand up the rest of the third, with Brian Gionta netting an ENG with about ten seconds left to clinch it.

In 1965 St. Jerry had a hand in every BC goal (2 goals, 2 assists) in a 4-2 upset of the Fighting Sioux to send the Eagles to the National Title game.”

This is looking like a (no) contest

JPDot continues to run away with this year’s prediction contest, correctly pegging a 2-1 Boston College victory on Tuesday.

The standings:

JPDot 6.333

Laura Berestecki 2.333

Joe Gravellese 1.333

CoachJF 1

Gifford Cats 1

Grant Salzano 1

BCJacket5 1

Arthur Bailin 1

princisb 1

Eric Hoffses 1

Predictions for the game:

Joe Gravellese - North Dakota 4, Boston College 1. NoDak is due to bust out unfortunately and I think we’ll be on the receiving end of it.

Grant Salzano - Boston College 1, North Dakota 1.

Laura Berestecki - Boston College 3, North Dakota 2. On brand.

Thomas Greenberg - North Dakota 4, Boston College 3.

Arthur Bailin - Boston College 5, North Dakota 4.

Leave your thoughts

Share your predictions or thoughts on the game here or on Twitter at @BCInterruption. Go Eagles!