Boston College are not only the hottest team in the conference, but also the country.
The #1 Eagles have fully recovered from their mid-season swoon and then some, rocketing back up the polls to the top spot and quieting their doubters. They are far from having achieved their objectives from this season, however, and the next phase begins on Friday night in the Hockey East Tournament quarterfinals. Just like last year, the Eagles drew the Massachusetts Minutemen for the best-of-three series to take place at Conte Forum.
In 2011, the Eagles won that series in workmanlike fashion, winning Game 1 by a 4-1 margin and Game 2 4-2 for a sweep.
Things appear to be a little bit different now. Last season, the Eagles’ takedown of the Minutemen was hardly unexpected, and in fact, BC did not lose a game to UMass all year (5-0-0 record including tournament results). In 2012, the Eagles go into this quarterfinal actually trailing in the season series, two games to one. The first game these two teams played was all the way back in October, and it was the only game the Eagles have won so far — a 4-2 victory. Games two and three, however, were losses of 4-2 and 4-0, respectively. The Minutemen are one of only two teams to have accomplished a shutout of BC this season (BU is the other).
There are a few things about those games to keep in perspective, and one must start by looking at the calendar. It is March 2012, but the first two games of the regular-season series took place prior to Thanksgiving 2011. The third game happened in the middle of January and was one of the low points of a particularly bad stretch of hockey for the Eagles.
Another thing to keep in perspective is the current performance of Boston College: the Eagles have won eleven games in a row and are the best team in the country at this time. Even though BC has already lost two games to UMass, you have to ask yourself if you can legitimately see the Minutemen taking two additional games from the Eagles on their home ice. Most people will say they cannot.
Finally, three games in a regular-season series is about the most you’ll get for any given team, but it’s still not a terribly large sample size. Fans need not read too much into it; what matters is how scorching-hot Boston College is playing now.
Perhaps some would prefer the Eagles to face a softer opponent — perhaps a badly-fading Providence team, for example — but the Eagles are #1 in the nation; they have nothing to fear from any team. The Eagles definitely will not take UMass lightly, but they shouldn’t be afraid of their below-average season series results; if anything, UMass should be afraid of playing BC.
Game 1 will be Friday night at 7:30pm; Game 2 on Saturday at 7pm; Game 3 (if needed) on Sunday at 7pm.