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PREVIEW: Boston College Hockey at Notre Dame

Eagles look to close out the first half strong

2016 Beanpot Tournament - Semifinals Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

GAME FACTS

Who:

#7 Boston College Eagles (13-5-1, 8-0-1 Hockey East) at
#17 Notre Dame (8-6-2, 4-3-1 Hockey East)

What:

Hockey East conference game

Where:

Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend, IN

When:

Saturday, December 10, 2016; 7:00 PM ET

How to watch:

NBC Sports Network + the NBC Sports Live Extra App

How to listen:

WEEI 850 AM, or BCEagles.com

STORYLINES

  • The Eagles have one game left before break. BC has a chance to extend their best-ever Hockey East start and end the semester undefeated in league play.
  • Chris Calnan left Tuesday’s game with an injury and his status is unknown for this weekend. If Calnan misses Saturday’s game, the Eagles would be down two of their top forwards and two of their only five upperclassmen.
  • BC got outshot 16-11 by Northeastern in the third period on Tuesday night. It was the third straight game in which they were outshot in the third, continuing a late-game trend: BC has outshot their opponents 445-340 in the first two periods, but has been outshot 205-170 in the third. They've outscored teams 46-21 in the first two periods, but are an even 25-25 in the third.
  • Hot starts have been good enough despite struggles in the third: BC is 8-0-1 when leading after the first period.
  • Matt Gaudreau is riding an eight game point streak, tied for a career high.

GETTING TO KNOW THE OPPONENT

  • Notre Dame was picked between 2nd and 3rd in the various preseason league polls; they currently sit tied for 3rd with UMass Lowell, posting a 4-3-1 mark in league play and 8-6-2 overall.
  • ND is currently 2-3-1 against teams that would be in the NCAA tournament if the season ended today. They split a series with Minnesota-Duluth, went 0-1-1 in a set against Penn State, and picked up a split vs. Umass-Lowell.
  • This team builds their wins off a stingy defense (2.38 goals against per game, 14th in the nation) and a star goalie in Cal Petersen. They only allow about 26 shots per game on average; only PC has allowed fewer in Hockey East.
  • Anders Bjork, a junior, leads the way in goals and assists for ND with 11-15--26.

STATISTICAL COMPARISON

  • Goals per game: BC 3.74, ND 3.38
  • Goals allowed per game: BC 2.42, ND 2.38
  • Power play: BC 16.5%, ND 18.0%
  • Penalty kill: BC 82.4%, ND 84.7%
  • Even strength CF%: BC 53.5%, ND 55.7%
  • CF% in close situations: BC 59.1%, ND 53.5%

HOW BC WINS

  • The Eagles’ best bet is for this game to open up and turn in to more of a shootout, as BC has a deeper and higher scoring attack than Notre Dame.
  • The other key for BC is a hot first period, as we discussed earlier.
  • Freshman Graham McPhee, whose role has increased with Ryan Fitzgerald’s injury (and may be set to increase again if Calnan is out), still hasn’t scored this season, but he has 8 shots on goal in the last 4 games after racking up a total of 12 in the first 15. He seems to be getting closer to finding the back of the net, and could add some more scoring depth at a time when the injury bug is biting.

CAT PREDICTIONS

Laura’s cat Coffee is a Gifford alum and is standing in for her shelter brethren tonight. Coffee made the mistake of not having faith in BC last season, picking them to lose to UMass. She learned her lesson and picked the Eagles to top Notre Dame 4-2:

coffee ND

Find your own game-picking friend at the Gifford Cat Shelter, located on Undine Rd. in Brighton.

LAST THOUGHT

For a number of reasons, a win on Saturday night would be one of BC’s biggest of the season. It would allow them to maintain a perfect league record for another four weeks and carry momentum forward in to a holiday tournament where they will have to play without a number of top players due to World Juniors. It would also give BC a 10 point gap on Notre Dame, certainly one of the teams that are good enough to run the Eagles down in the standings.

BC is 3-3 in their last 6 games as the schedule has ramped up. 4-3 would feel a lot better than 3-4 going in to the break, wouldn’t it?

LEAVE US YOUR THOUGHTS

Think BC can pick up another win tomorrow? Share your thoughts here or on twitter at @BCInterruption. GO EAGLES!!!!