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PREVIEW: Boston College Hockey at the Three Rivers Classic

The shorthanded Eagles look to come home from Pittsburgh with win(s)

2016 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championships - Semifinals Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Three Rivers Classic
PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
December 29-30

Thursday:
BC vs. Quinnipiac, 4:30 PM
Ferris St. vs. Robert Morris, 7:30 PM

Friday:
Consolation Game, 4:30 PM
Championship Game, 7:30 PM

For some reason, despite the fact that these games are being played in an NHL arena, they’re not streaming. So, listen to the radio broadcast on BCEagles.com or follow @BCHockey for twitter updates.

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When we last saw Boston College hockey 19 days ago, they brought an injury-wracked lineup to South Bend and were unable to hang on for a point at Notre Dame.

The road doesn’t get any easier for the Eagles this week. They should be mostly fully healthy; with the exception of Ryan Fitzgerald, all the other Eagles battling through injuries should be healthy and ready to go. But with World Juniors ongoing, BC will play without Julius Mattila, Jesper Mattila, Colin White, Casey Fitzgerald and Joe Woll.

Including Ryan Fitzgerald’s injury, BC is going to be very shorthanded this weekend as they travel to Pittsburgh for the Three Rivers Classic at the Penguins’ PPG Paints Arena.

The Eagles’ lineup is going to look.... different. Here’s a crack at how they might roll out (I have no idea what lines they’re actually using in practice, so this is pure guesswork)-

David Cotton, Austin Cangelosi, JD Dudek
Matt Gaudreau, Chris Brown, Chris Calnan
Graham McPhee, Ron Greco, Zach Walker
Chris Shero, Mike Booth, Michael Merulla

Michael Kim, Connor Moore
Luke McInnis, Scott Savage
Mike Campoli

Ryan Edquist
Ian Milosz

It’s certainly a weakened lineup, but there’s still enough firepower there to compete - especially if Ryan Edquist continues the form he displayed early in the season before Woll started to really rack up most of the starts.

BC plays Quinnipiac today at 4:30 PM in the Three Rivers Classic opener. In the nightcap, homestanding Robert Morris plays Ferris State at 7:30.

On paper, the Eagles are the favorite to win (or at least would be at full strength). At 13-6-1 and #12 in the Pairwise, BC seems to be the strongest contender in the field.

Their first round foe, Quinnipiac, enters with a 10-7-2 record and a #19 ranking in the pairwise.

The Bobcats’ hallmark in recent years has been heavily outshooting opponents and that trend has continued even in spite of all the losses QU suffered following their run to the National Championship game last season. QU has a corsi-for percentage of 57.3% in all situations and in an average game, they’re outshooting opponents 36-26 - #3 in the nation in that category.

Returning senior Tim Clifton leads the way with 10 goals and 15 points, but freshman defenseman Brogan Rafferty has been a revelation as well (2-13--15).

QU played a nonconference slate heavy on Hockey East teams to start the season, which gives us a pretty solid comparison point. They went 1-0-1 in a series against Northeastern. They split at Maine, with both games going to OT. They easily beat UConn, before losing 3-0 to BU; then they topped UMass 3-2 on a Tuesday night, massively outshooting them in the process. In total, they are 4-2-1 against Hockey East opponents. They're 6-5-1 in ECAC play since moving on from all those Hockey East matchups.

Overall, they certainly are several steps behind where they were the last few seasons, but they’d be a formidable opponent even for a full-strength BC team. With six guys out of the lineup, this is going to be a challenge.

The other side of the bracket is weaker on paper. Robert Morris is a decent Atlantic Hockey team with a chance to make the NCAA Tournament as that league’s representative. They sit in third place in the league standings with a 7-5-2 conference record (9-6-3 overall). Their nonconference slate does include a very impressive 1-0-1 weekend against an excellent Ohio State team. In their last four games before the break, they went 1-2-1 against Bentley and Mercyhurst. Statistically, nothing really jumps out about RMU other than their power play; at 24.5%, it’s #3 in the nation.

RMU will certainly be favored against Ferris State. Ferris has fallen off the map a bit (I mean, have you seen the state of Ferris on a map lately?) since their cinderella run to the NCAA title game in 2012, and this year has been a struggle. Ferris is 7-11-1 overall; they have a slightly above average team defense, allowing 2.84 goals per game, to go along with a below-average offense (2.79 GF/gm).

For reasons unbeknownst to us, you can’t stream these games or otherwise watch them in any way. Which is, for the record, lame. But, tune in on the radio, follow along on Twitter, and hope BC can come back with a win or two. If they do, they’ll be well positioned as they prepare to welcome back the cavalry before league play resumes.