Beanpot: 5 things to watch when Boston College and Boston University face off
It is only fitting that Mother Nature is rearing her head with today's forecast considering last year's Beanpot final was delayed two weeks by snow.
Barring a repeat, old rivals Boston College and Boston University will meet on the Garden ice to see who will skate off to Commonwealth Ave. with the coveted silver pot.
BC (19-4-4) enters the contest ranked No. 4 in the nation and is chasing its 20th 'pot title. Defending champion BU (16-7-4) is ranked ninth and looking to extend its record of 30 Beanpot crowns. Northeastern (9-13-5) and No. 7 Harvard 13-6-3) will meet in the consolation game, which takes on added meaning when NCAA postseason implications are considered.
Here are five things to ponder when the puck is dropped:
Defending champion Boston University will be without sophomore Nikolas Olsson, who has been limited to 14 games (four assists). The hard-hitting left winger has been shut down for theseason and appears headed for shoulder surgery to repair the problem. In addition, stellar freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who made such an important impact while playing for the U.S. at the world junior tournament, has a lower-body injury and will be a game-time decision.
BC played Friday's 4-3 home win against New Hampshire without the services of a pair of key forwards in freshman Miles Wood (lower body) and junior Chris Calnan (upper body). Meanwhile, top scorer and freshman center Colin White (16 goals, 19 assists) sustained a wrist injury in that game which prevented him from taking faceoffs in the latter stages. All three are listed as game-time decisions.
It has been said that BC and BU could play in a parking lot and it wouldn't change the blood-lust between them.
Tonight marks the 270th meeting and BU holds a 130-121-18 edge. In previous Beanpot matchups, BU has a 27-15 advantage. The clubs have met 21 times with the coveted mug on the line, and the Terriers have skated to victory in 12 of those finals. BU will be appearing in its 51st 'pot final, a staggering statistic. The Terriers own a record 30 titles.
BC is making its 35th visit to the championship round and will be looking for its 20th crown. The teams met most recently Jan. 15-16 with BC taking 3-of-4 points from the weekend home-and-home series.
BC junior Thatcher Demko, a second-round (36th overall) pick by Vancouver in 2014, has posted eight shutouts to match current New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider for the program'ssingle-season record. Demko is 18-4-3 with a 1.70 GAA and .937 save percentage to rank fourth nationally. He posted 35 saves against UNH on Friday causing head coach Jerry York to remark, "Thatcher was out of this world, as far as I'm concerned."
Meanwhile, BU senior Sean Maguire, who missed all last season with injuries, has returned to the level that saw him drafted in the fourth round (113th overall) by Pittsburgh in 2014. Maguire, who is 9-4-1 with a 2.28 GAA and .922 SP this season, has backstopped BU to five straight wins and was sharp in a 6-3 road win at UMass with 30 saves Friday.
4. THE DIFFERENCE-MAKERS
Terriers All-America defenseman Matt Grzelcyk can change a game with his electrifying skating ability or his hard and accurate shot from the point. "He's as good a defenseman as there is in college hockey," coach David Quinn said of the reigning Beanpot MVP.
BC freshman Colin White (if healthy) also can impact a game in a variety of ways. The first-line center and the Eagles' top scorer (16 goals and 35 points) is the 14th Jerry York-recruited player at BC to be a first-round NHL pick after being selected by Ottawa (21st overall) last spring. The Hanover product knows where the net is when the puck lands on his stick and exhibits a pro-style burst of speed to gain separation. The 6-foot White starred for Team USA at the world juniors.
Both coaches know the ins and outs of the fabled 64-year-old Beanpot. Both have played on a tournament winner, Jerry York as a BC sophomore in 1965 and David Quinn with BU in both 1986 and 1987. Both have coached teams to 'pot titles with the York-led Eagles winning eight, including five straight from 2010-14. Quinn guided the Terriers to the title last season.
York recently became the first hockey coach in NCAA history to record 1,000 victories and currently is 1,003-595-109 through 44 seasons. Quinn is 54-36-13 in three seasons. This will mark their first head-to-head meeting in a Beanpot final.