Saturday marks the final regular-season game that the #1 Boston College Eagles hockey seniors will play at Kelley Rink. Since we know that they will host a Hockey East quarterfinal this is not your last chance to see them at a home game.
When we throw in that these are almost certainly Johnny Gaudreau’s last games at Boston College as well, that might increase the urgency of the fans to get to a game.
Today, the Eagles face the #14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish as they wrap the Hockey East schedule. That schedule has been very good to them all year, as the Eagles enter the game having not lost over their last 19-straight games (17-0-2). With the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament looking very likely if Boston College takes care of business, there is no doubting that the Eagles’ position beyond this weekend is secure.
In the only previous meeting, Boston College beat Notre Dame at Fenway Park, 4-3.
As for Notre Dame, though they are ranked, things are not quite so cut and dry. The Irish are tied for 12th in the PairWise Rankings and a loss here and a Hockey East Tournament early exit might push them towards the cliff. It seems Notre Dame has done enough to make it into the big frozen dance but nobody should feel that safe when a few spots separate you from the dividing line of doom.
No team can boast a line as productive as Boston College’s top line of Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes, and Bill Arnold. After all, they have 155 total points in 33 games and are first, second, and fifth, respectively, in the national points rankings. Keep looking for a line that has more points; you won’t find it. The Gaudreau-Hayes-Arnold attack has helped lead Boston College to the most potent offense in the nation, which at 4.27 goals per game scores over half a goal more per contest than the next-closest team. Let that sink in for a minute.
Notre Dame is much more average with an even three goals per game, but their goaltending has not been. Steven Summerhays leads the nation in shutouts with seven, and the Irish allow one of the lowest goals-against averages in the nation with 2.03 per game (4th). They are playing a team that is almost equally as good in that department, with a very young goalie in Thatcher Demko who now leads college hockey in GAA (1.74) — it’s almost hard to believe that as a freshman he is already as good as he is.
This could be another defensive sort of game for Boston College as both teams are good at holding the other at bay, but beating Notre Dame is nothing the Eagles have not done before this season, and what better official sendoff for the seniors than to beat the Irish.
The game will be televised locally on NESN at 4pm, coinciding with the basketball game.