By James Garrison
The No. 13 Boston University men’s hockey team (17-10-3, 11-6-3 Hockey East) is set to take on their cross-town rivals the Boston College Eagles (11-16-5, 6-11-3 HE) in the battle of Comm. Ave with games set for Friday and Saturday night.
The puck will be dropped Friday night at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts at 7:00pm and at 6:30pm on Saturday night at Agganis Arena in Boston, Massachusetts. For both the teams, it is their second-to-last weekend series of the regular season.
This will be the first game for the Terriers since their post-Beanpot layoff of eleven days. Despite the longer than usual layoff, the Terriers are still carrying the emotional weight of the Beanpot games into a rivalry weekend.
“Pretty excited to get back at it, especially in league play, especially versus a cross-town rival,” Terriers Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in his weekly media availability. “Should be a couple of fun environments and a great way to play a cross-town rival towards the end of the year.”
The two sides met earlier this year for a one game set back in December. The Eagles came back against the Terriers and took the extra point in the shootout in a thrilling game at Agganis Arena.
Much has changed since then, though, with the two teams trending in opposite directions. The Terriers have won 11 of 12 games since then with only one overtime loss, while the Eagles have only won three games, going 3-11-2.
Despite their disparate second half records and inverse momentum, the battle of Comm. Ave never disappoints and always holds very tight games, much like Beanpot games.
Both teams have also welcomed the return of some of their top players from the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Drew Helleson and Marc McLaughlin were both able to play in the Eagles’ series last weekend against Northeastern and expect Jack McBain to be back in the lineup this weekend as well.
The Terriers will be welcoming goaltender Drew Commesso back into the lineup this weekend after suiting up for Team USA. It is still unclear what the Terriers’ goaltending situation will be with Commesso having traveled this weekend.
“I think some of it has to do with where Drew’s head is at and where Vinny’s head is at,” O’Connell said. “Just the energy level. That’s a long trip coming back from overseas. I think the travel itself is like a full day.”
In addition to the classic anticipation for any BC-BU matchup late in the season, the Terriers have much more to play for than just bragging rights. Points will be at a premium this weekend as the Terriers try to jump to the top of the crowded Hockey East standings.
With only two weekends remaining in the regular season, the Terriers could finish as high as first place or as low as seventh place. BU is currently tied for fifth place with Northeastern and only trail UConn and Merrimack by three points.
The Terriers will hope to finish in the top-four of Hockey East standings, which will grant them a mid-week bye as well as a home quarterfinal game before the semifinals and final, which will be played at TD Garden.
Much still has to be determined at the national level for the Terriers. Sitting within the top-sixteen of the national rankings in both the Weekly Poll and the Pairwise would have seemed like a far-off dream for BU back in the months of November and December but has become a reality.
In order to receive an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament, the Terriers will most likely have to beat the Eagles at least once and lose in overtime, and beat Maine twice next weekend at the very least. Currently tied with UConn at fourteenth, there is still much to be played for.
The long layoff may result in a slow start for BU come Friday, but the team is confident that they will come out strong and ready to play.
“I think we’re dialed in to what we’re doing,” O’Connell said. “All in all, it’s been a pretty good week so far and we’re hopefully going to have a good practice today and be in the right mindset for tomorrow.”
Coverage for a full weekend of BU, with women’s playoff tilt on Saturday and a weekend series against BC, can be found with recaps posted on the blog, as well as coverage on Instagram @boston.hockey.blog and on Twitter @BOShockeyblog.