Denver at Boston University Game Preview
On Saturday afternoon, the Pios will leave Chestnut Hill and head into the heart of Boston to play Boston University, the other Boston college hockey juggernaut. This will be the second game in the first real weekend test of the year for the Pios.
We know plenty about the Pios so far this year and we will certainly learn even more after the Friday night affair against Boston College. But what about the Terriers? Remember, this team made a run to the NCAA Title game where they lost to Providence (still bitter). Unfortunately, for this preview, we will not be providing any kind of Q&A with someone close to the program.
As the conversation relates to BU, the question on everyone's minds is how will they replace the talent of Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Eichel?
Just to refresh your memory, Eichel was the freshman wunderkind who dazzled crowds around the country last year with dangles and goals that made jaws drop for miles around...or something like that. To be completely honest, 26-45-71 (G-A-P) speaks for itself.
And replacing that kind of production on a team has proven to be a tall task.
Even though they returned a decent amount of scoring from a year ago, the Terriers have stumbled a bit out of the gate going 2-2 to start the year. The two losses came against a decent Union team (5-3) and against a very mediocre UConn team (5-2). On top of that, they also dropped a 7-4 exhibition decision against the US U18 national team.
In short, it has been a less than ideal start to the 2015-16 campaign for the #8 Boston University hockey team.
But that is certainly no reason to take this team lightly. The team from downtown Boston is still a dangerous team and can beat anyone on any given night...sure, that's cliche. But it's true. A victory against BC will not guarantee a victory at Agganis Arena on Saturday.
While the biggest issue for the Terriers is replacing Eichel's production, a close second might be figuring out the goaltending situation. One of the biggest reasons the Terriers were able to make a run to the NCAA Title Game last year was the phenomenal play of goalie Matt O'Connor who compiled a 25-4-4 record, 2.18 GAA, and .927 SV%. After the 2014-15 season ended, he made the decision to sign an NHL deal with the Ottawa Senators.
Coming into the season, coach David Quinn explained that he would start the year by rotating sophomore Connor LaCouvee and senior Sean Maguire until one proves himself worthy of becoming the nightly starter. So far, through 4 games, neither has really gained the inside track. Both have posted 1-1 records, around a 3.00 GAA and around a .850 SV%.
Basically, things don't look good in the goal crease for BU thus far. If the Pios can mount the kind of pressure they were able to build against Michigan State in game two, they have a very good chance of escaping Boston with a victory at Agganis Arena.
Seems pretty straightforward, no? Boring? Too easy? Glad you thought so because as you may have guessed, this preview isn't over yet.
Sure BU might struggle to score goals this year and their goalies might have a tough time stopping shots, but this team's biggest strength is along the blue line. Even with the absence of senior All-American captain Matt Grzelcyk (say that 10 times fast) due to injury, this is a stout, talented group of defensemen. D-Men like Brandon Hickey, John MacCleod, and Doyle Somerby (GREAT name) will look to stifle Denver's formidable offensive attack.
On top of these talented blueliners, freshman Charlie McAvoy will look to contribute both defensively and offensively. Last year he led all defensemen in scoring on the NDTP U18 Team. While the goalie match-up certainly appears to favor Denver, it will prove to be a tall task to just find good shots and get them on net on Saturday thanks to the stout group of Terrier defensemen.
Overall, this figures to be a great cap to a wonderful weekend of college hockey...if only we could be treated to these match-ups in Denver. If Denver plays good, relentless Pioneer hockey, there is no reason why they can't board the plane at Logan Airport with a 5 in the win column.
#5 Denver at #8 Boston University
2:00 PM MT (NOTE THE DIFFERENT START TIME)
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