Sunday, March 12, 2017

BC to Face BU on Friday in Hockey East Semifinals

Boston College is headed back to TD Garden to face Boston University again, with the entire season likely on the line this time.

The Eagles (20-14-4) recorded 7-0 and 7-4 wins over Vermont in the Hockey East quarterfinals on Friday and Saturday at Conte Forum to advance to the conference semifinals for the second time in three years, and second straight after a quarterfinal win over UVM. It was also BC’s first win since a 6-4 triumph at New Hampshire on Feb. 3, which was followed by an 0-5-2 skein that resulted in the Eagles sharing the Hockey East regular-season crown with BU and UMass-Lowell.

Luke McInnis tallied a goal and three assists in the opener against UVM, as the Eagles took the lead just eight seconds into regulation on a goal by Austin Cangelosi and never looked back. BC then outlasted the Catamounts in the rematch as Cangelosi and JD Dudek each scored twice. Joe Woll stopped 54 of 58 shots in all for the Eagles on the weekend.

BC is 0-3 against BU (23-10-3) so far this season, including a 3-1 setback on Feb. 6 in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament at TD Garden. The Eagles are currently 16th in the Pairwise Rankings, which mimics the selection process for the 16-team NCAA Tournament, while BU is sixth. The two Green Line rivals will square off at 8 p.m. Friday in Boston, following the game between Notre Dame (21-10-5) and UML (24-10-3). The winners will meet on Saturday for the Hockey East championship.

Playing around with the NCAA Tournament Pairwise Comparison Ratings and the customized results features at college, BC would probably be slotted 12th in the Pairwise and just about assured of a spot in the NCAAs if it had won one more game this season—such as reversing a February loss against Merrimack, or an October defeat against Air Force. 

A win against the Terriers on Friday could certainly enhance BC’s chances of making the nationals for the eighth straight season. The 15th and 16th spots in the NCAAs will likely go to the Atlantic Hockey and WCHA tournament champions, assuming there are no upset champions in other leagues that could also take away potential NCAA berths.

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