Posted: 12:00 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, 2013
By Joseph Gravellese
It sure feels like a long time since BC last took the ice at Conte Forum. In reality, it was only two weeks ago today when the Eagles destroyed Wisconsin on Jerry York night. But a lot has happened since then in the sports universe - including BC's not-so-great weekend at Minnesota. There's a lot to be encouraged about from the first five games of the season, but with a 2-2-1 record, the hope is that BC can now start to pile up wins as conference play begins. It starts tonight at home against Northeastern.
The Huskies are off to a "surprising" 5-1 start to the season and have managed to eke their way into the USCHO Top 20 - but in reality, they haven't really played anyone yet, sweeping through Alabama-Huntsville and Holy Cross before splitting with St. Lawrence last week. While I still don't expect them to be ranked for long, they are clearly better than they have been in recent years, since the Huskies have infamously lost to some AHA and other low-caliber opponents at home in the past couple of seasons. They'll also be riding some renewed confidence.
Another factor in NU's favor is that they will be playing at home on Saturday night at Matthews Arena where BC has struggled. For whatever reason, weird things always seem to happen there- from Milner giving up a goal on a shot from the red line, to BC's breakout getting stuck in a puddle on the ice, leading to a turnover the Huskies scored on to win the game. It seems like an early-season loss at Matthews is a rite of passage for BC teams lately. Since the start of the 2009-10 season, BC is 2-3 at Matthews Arena, while enjoying a 9-0-1 record against the Huskies elsewhere (Conte Forum, TD Garden, and Fenway Park).
Demko in game 1, Billett in game 2
Game Time: 8:00 PM Friday, 7:00 PM Saturday
TV: FRIDAY: NBC Sports Network. SATURDAY: GoNU.com XStream (the best streaming broadcast service in Hockey East)
Radio: WEEI 850 AM and BCEagles.com
Record: Northeastern is 5-1-0; BC is 2-2-1.
BC: 21 GF (T-3rd in HEA), 16 GA (T-10th in HEA) = +5 (4th in HEA)
NU: 30 GF (1st ni HEA), 15 GA (9th in HEA) = +15 (1st in HEA)
Last Time Out: Northeastern faced their stiffest test of the young season and fared reasonably well, splitting at St. Lawrence. They won the first game 6-3 and lost the second, 6-4.
Common Foes: Since Northeastern hasn't played a Division I opponent yet, there are no common foes to scout here.
Storylines: The Huskies are feeling pretty good about their start to the season, and I don't blame them, after the complete dumpster fire that was last year. But this is obviously their first big test. BC needs to be ready, because NU circles the date on the calendar for these games.
Players to watch: Kevin Roy. It starts and ends with Roy, the standout sophomore for the Huskies who is a potential darkhorse Hobey candidate. He has 12 points already this season for NU; you may remember him from his hat trick in the Beanpot final last season.
Fun Fact: Did you guys know that Matthews Arena is the world's oldest indoor hockey something something? I promise, it is. Ask an NU fan.
The Demko vs. Billett battle royale rages on. Who will have the better game? Can BC's beefed-up defense slow down Roy in a way last year's team had a harder time doing? Is Northeastern for real? How will attendance be on a night when the wider sports universe in this town is still consumed by preparations for the Red Sox parade, and sports fans at BC prep for a home football game on Saturday?
Notre Dame plays its first official conference game tonight at Vermont, so that's something, I guess. The marquee matchup in Hockey East is suddenly-surging Providence against BU in a home-and-home. UMass-Lowell also takes on UNH in a key home-and-home series. The conference grind gets well and truly underway.
You know, even though I have a lot of love for the history of the place, and it's actually the closest rink to where I live, I've cut Northeastern out of my away game trip list this year. Part of the reason is that we usually lose in some stupid manner when I see us play at Northeastern, and another reason is that ever since they spread the student section over both ends of the balcony rather than containing them to one end like they used to, it's impossible to go there and enjoy the great views of the balcony without being surrounded by nimrods (the lower-bowl seats just aren't nearly as good there).
But another reason is that despite its excellent downtown location, I haven't found the perfect pre-game spot. Conor Larkin's on Huntington Avenue is outstanding and on a non-game night is one of my favorite bars in Boston, featuring delicious pub food and a true Boston-Irish-pub vibe without being gimmicky. But again, on game nights, you have the nimrod problem and it's usually completely jammed a couple of hours prior to the game. We tried going there about 2 1/2 hours ahead of time last year and still couldn't find room and had to retreat. We made the horrible mistake of going to the Uno's on Huntington AVe, thinking it would be a quick and easy process; it was not, we waited for over an hour for freaking Uno's and barely made it into our seats in time for the game. Huge bummer.
I really liked Symphony 8which was right around the corner from Symphony Hall, a weird sort of split-personality bar and restaurant that had a floor that looked like a nice casual pub, and a floor that felt a little bit more like a moderately-priced restaurant. But it's sadly closed now. So I got nothing. Any suggestions? I mean there has to be another really good bar and restaurant within walking distance of Matthews Arena, right?
FRIDAY: BC 6, Northeastern 1; Saturday, Northeastern 3, BC 2. BC is a better team than Northeastern and should have no trouble feasting on their weak defense and goaltending at home on Friday night. But Matthews being Matthews, expect some level of lunacy to occur, BC to take dumb penalties, the Huskies to play their best game of the season, and Northeastern to eke out a win.
Out of town, I think BU manages to nick one point off of Providence at home, but the Friars win the series by defending home ice tomorrow night.
Like Grant, I'm high on UNH this year but I think Lowell will snag a split and continue their ascent back up the rankings after an ugly start to the season.
It would be great if Bentley beats Merrimack tonight, so I'm going to officially predict that. You're welcome, New Guy.
Boston College sweeps, though naturally it won't come as easy at Matthews. 4-1 BC at Conte. 3-2 BC at Matthews.
Too drunj from Wednesday night to get his predictions in. I bet he thinks Bentley will win, tho. JCNG.
BC will sweep NU, 8-1 and 3-0. NU stinks.
5 points for a correct prediction, minus one point for how far off you were from the victory margin. i.e., predicting a 4-goal win and it ends up being a 2-goal win = 3 points. Also, 1 bonus point for getting a team's score correct. Enter this week's contest by leaving your BC-Wisconsin prediction in the comments.
Boston College 3, Minnesota 3
Minnesota 6, Boston College 1
Joe: BC 3, MN 1 (1 point).... MN 4, BC 3 (1 point) ---> 2 points
Grant: MN 4, BC 3 (1 point).... BC 6, MN 2 (0 points and may god have mercy etc.) ---> 1 point
Brian: MN 4, BC 2 (0 points).... MN 3, BC 1 (3 points) ---> 3 points
AJ: BC 5, MN 4 (0 points).... MN 6, BC 4 (3 points) ---> 3 points
Conrad: DNQ (0 points)
BCEagle74: BC 5, MN 4 (0 points).... BC 5, MN 3 (0 points)----> 0 points
BCMike22: BC 4, MN 1 (0 points).... MN 2, BC 1 (2 points)----> 2 points
Amy C: MN 5, BC 2 (0 points).... BC 4, MN 3 (0 points)---> 0 points
Patty: BC 4, MN 2 (0 points).... BC 2, MN 1 (0 points)----> 0 points
Maureen: BC 4, MN 1 (0 points).... BC 3, MN 2 (0 points)---> 0 points
Another rough week for everyone, with AJ and Brian splitting the honors by taking 3 points each. They get half-a-win each, because I make up the rules. #HockeyEast'd
Joe - 1 win (Week 1)
Conrad - 1 win (Week 2)
AJ - 0.5 wins (Week 3 tie)
Brian - 0.5 wins (Week 3 tie)
How are you feeling about the series? Think BC finally picks up a two-win weekend? Will Northeastern continue their strong start? Leave your thoughts below.