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Vermont at Boston College: Exit January; Enter Winning?

Boston College hockey has officially escaped another disastrous January. Following their consecutive home defeats at the hands of last-place Maine, the #5 Eagles are ready to turn the page and hit the gas in February. The challenge will be leaving the past behind them and not allowing it to follow them into this new month.

Had the slump been in November, that would have been one thing. In January, it’s merely par for the course. It’s February now, with the Beanpot days away and the Hockey East Tournament next month, and to be completely blunt, the time for BC to screw around is over. If they intend this to be another special season, then that downslide from last month cannot carry over.

Pat Mullane’s Boston College Eagles will host the Vermont Catamounts tonight in a conference clash and unofficial tune-up for the Beanpot (which is almost nonsensical, because the Vermont game has real significance in conference play and the Beanpot semis technically mean nothing). Much like Maine, the Catamounts come to Conte Forum with a very sub-par record: 7-13-4 (4-9-4); Vermont’s 12 points has them in eighth place and barely clinging to a Hockey East Tournament spot. If the standings somehow hold up, Vermont will be back at Conte Forum in March for the best-of-three quarterfinals.

About those, however: BC only has a two-point lead over New Hampshire in the Hockey East race, but UNH has two extra games in hand. Boston University is also just two points behind, and they have a game in hand over BC as well. The Eagles have played 18, UNH has played 16, and BU 17. Now you see why the Eagles need to win this game urgently.

One of Boston College’s problems in the Maine series was offense, at least inasmuch as scoring goals were concerned. BC scored just twice in the two-game series, but had a total of 60 shots on-goal. To their credit, they put plenty of pucks on the net but the Eagles kept getting stood up, which led to a lot of frustration on the ice and in the Conte Forum general admission seats. Defenseman Mike Matheson was a non-participant in the Maine games due to injury, but will reportedly return. Frankly, with the state BC is in, they could use all the help they can get anywhere.

Vermont recently snapped a five-game losing streak with a home win over UMass on Saturday. It is to date their only victory in 2013, so at least BC had a better January than someone else. The Catamounts have the second-least potent offense in Hockey East at 2.25 goals per game (Maine’s was the only one worse, for all the good it did the Eagles), but the difference here is that UVM’s goaltending also happens to be near the bottom of the conference. They have given up the most goals at 75 and are second-worst with 3.12 goals allowed per game. Vermont also has the worst penalty kill in Hockey East once again this season, stopping the other team from converting just over 80% of the time — that’s a significant improvement from the previous year, believe it or not.

The Catamounts take a lot of penalties and they don’t do a great job killing them off. Boston College could not ask for much more if they want to get February off to a good start, but they have to be able to take advantage. Losing to another inferior team at home would send all of the wrong messages.

The puck drops at 7pm.

Tags: Boston College Eagles Hockey Vermont Catamounts

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