It's 4:20 pm (which may be appealing to some of my readers), faceoff for tonights BC-BU game at Conte is in less than 4 hours and I am still seriously entertaining the notion of jumping in my car, flooring it to the airport, and getting on a last-minute flight to Boston to show up just in time for faceoff. That's how big this weekend is.
BC's hockey team has struggled so far this year, most recently dropping a tough 6-3 contest at home to UNH. BU also does not come into the weekend firing on full cylinders, having disappointingly tied UMass 2-2 at home on Tuesday after an unconvincing 2-1 home win over Yale last Saturday. Both teams are struggling somewhat early in the season, but both certainly have the talent to bounce back and make a long postseason run.
Throw all that out the window, because none of it matters tonight and tomorrow night. This is BC-BU, and emotions and physical play will always be the theme of the day. It is one of American sports' greatest rivalries, and even if there was a significant gap between the two teams in talent or current form it would be highly unlikely that either team will take the full 4 points this weekend. Throw in the fact that these two teams are very evenly matched, and these will be two great games.
BU will be looking for revenge, plain and simple. They've had all summer to think about last year's NCAA regional final, where they had their season humiliatingly ended 5-0 by the Eagles. They will need a big weekend from John Curry if they are to defeat the Eagles, but Curry, in the fine tradition of BU goalies, more often than not comes through in games against BC (that glorious night in Worcester [how often has THAT phrase ever appeared in print??] notwithstanding). Jack "The Alc" Parker's team will also be looking to senior captain Kenny Roche, currently leading the Terriers with 11 points, to lead the charge. Sophomore Matt Gilroy, expected by many to have a breakout season, is currently lagging behind BU's top scorers but could get his season kick-started with a big weekend against BC. The loss of sophomore Brandon Yip, a constant thorn in BC's side last year, will not help the Terriers.
For BC's part, the outcome of the weekend will come down to the play of the young defense--particularly the unit's leaders, Mike Brennan and Brett Motherwell. Motherwell, touted as a preseason All-American and Hobey Baker candidate in just his sophomore year, has had a disappointing season to date but still has plenty of time to turn it around. Brennan, on the other hand, needs to start living up to his leadership role and stop taking stupid penalties. On the other end of the ice, Joe Rooney seems to be finally living up to his potential. While not having the Collins-esque breakout year that many had hoped for (if not entirely expected), Rooney is leading the Eagles with 15 points and will seek to recreate his heroics from the 5-0 game in Worcester. However, it's also time for Brian Boyle to step it up and start becoming the dominating force that he is capable of being. His production so far (13 points) is decent, but nothing special; more so than the numbers however, he needs to realize that this is HIS team, take it by the scruff of the neck, and drag it to victory, singlehandedly if need be. Boyle still has time to put together a Hobey Baker season but he needs to start stepping it up now.
I think he'll do it, and I think BC will do it. Tonight's game will be very hard-fought (even by BC-BU standards) as the Terriers will seek revenge for March's 5-0 defeat. I do expect BC to weather the storm and come out with a point before riding Cory Schneider to a win tomorrow night at Agganis. Prediction: BC 2, BU 2 (Friday); BC 3, BU 1 (Saturday)
Faceoff in just a little over 3 hours on CSTV, with tomorrow's game at 7 pm on CN8. Until then, check out this great preview video courtesy of CSTV: