The Boston College Eagles men’s hockey team aren’t just #1 in the nation, but they’re also #1 in their conference, Hockey East. BC concludes their regular season this weekend at home against the last-place Vermont Catamounts, a team they obliterated last month in Burlington. Is tonight the night the Eagles will lock up the top seed in the coming tournament?
Perhaps. The Eagles have 35 points while their closest competitor, Boston University, has 33. The Terriers own the tiebreaker over Boston College, which means the Eagles can’t afford to let them gain two or more points of ground this weekend. Luckily for BC, they’re facing the worst team in the conference by a mile.
How bad are they, you ask? Vermont has seven (7) points in 25 Hockey East games with a record of 3-21-1. The Catamounts have only won six games all season; by contrast, the Eagles have won nine — in a row, that is. Both on paper and logically, this is a complete and utter mismatch and anything less than a four-point weekend would be seen as an embarrassment.
Boston University, on the other hand, will face Northeastern to close out their season. The Huskies are tied with UMass at 20 points for that eighth and final spot in the Hockey East Tournament; meanwhile, UMass is playing Merrimack, who could pass Maine and get home ice for the quarterfinals with a good weekend. Northeastern is a lousy team that has not played well recently, but they’re not going to mail it in with something actually at stake and at least somewhat of a chance that things could break their way.
In order for the Eagles to wrap up the regular-season title tonight, (1) BC would need to win and BU would have to tie or lose, or (2) BC would have to tie and BU would have to lose, leaving an insurmountable gap for Saturday’s season finale. Even so, if Boston College wins both their games (and they are widely expected to), what the Terriers do will not matter.
Of course, some might argue that the regular season crown does not matter; those may be the same people who say the Beanpot is irrelevant. Sure, winning either one of those things pales in comparison to winning the Hockey East Tournament, and all of them fall short of making the Frozen Four and winning the national championship, but if presented with a choice between winning them or not winning them, you’re going to want to win them. It may be just one step on the journey to where this BC team wants to go this season, but it’s one that does have some meaning. The thing is, even if they have a horrendous weekend and choke the title away, it’s not the end of the world (though losing any games to a lifeless Vermont team would be problematic).
While it is entirely possible that this weekend at Conte Forum will be a nice victory lap for the tremendous regular season they’ve had, and a sendoff for what is to come, there is one other factor with which they must contend. There is one foe the Eagles have not vanquished this season: the CBS College Sports Network. Boston College is 0-4 on that channel this season, but they won’t get a better opportunity to break the losing streak than against a 25-loss team on their home ice.
The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30, but knowing live television, it will probably be closer to 7:40.