Newly #1 ranked Gopher Hockey (4-0-0) faces their first big test of the season as they host #5 Boston College (2-1-0) Friday night and Sunday afternoon at Mariucci. We talked to Joe Gravellese and Grant Salzano of SB Nation blog BC Interruption about the big games this weekend.
The Daily Gopher: First off, thank you for beating the bejeezus out of Wisconsin (BC thumped them 9-2). I never tire of seeing them lose, especially when they were ranked ahead of Minnesota. Hang on, my computer must be broken- it says BC had 49 shots?!?!? From the stats that looks about as lopsided as a 9-2 final score would indicate. What happened? And isn't beating Bucky fun?
Joe Gravellese: You're more than welcome. The only thing better than torching them was that it gave me flashbacks to the last time we played Wisconsin... in the 2010 national championship game, when BC torched them then, too. That was awesome.
Yes, BC had 49 shots. 9-2 may have been a generous scoreline for Bucky. Their goalies made a number of great stops to keep BC from hitting double digits.
Honestly, as good as BC played - and they played GREAT, from top to bottom - Wisconsin looked completely terrible. They honestly looked like they'd never seen game film on BC before. They let Johnny Gaudreau lurk behind the defense and take long passes for breakaways three times in the first period including twice ON THE SAME SHIFT. Needless to say, that eventually burned them when Gaudreau tucked in his goal.
We also saw some freshmen emerge in a big way, especially Austin Cangelosi, who scored twice on one shift. BC fans are already getting excited about him as the next potential speedy BC superstar.
It was truly a tremendous performance. Total smackdown from start to finish. By the time the dust settled on the first period, the Badgers looked ready to go home.
TDG: Eagles are 2-1 to start the season with two lopsided victories on home ice against top 12 foes, and a close loss at #4 Michigan. I know we're VERY early, but thoughts on the season thus far? And what are your thoughts on Minnesota's, um, "new" conference rival?
Grant Salzano: More than anything I think we're just pleased to see our freshmen playing so well against such good competition after being thrown right into the file. I'm not sure I can ever remember such a tough schedule to start a season.
Last year we were so starved for depth that once we lost one or two players to, well, anything, we looked like we wouldn't be able to put up a fight to someone like Union. Wait...
As for your "new" conference rival, they looked like they just didn't show up. I can't imagine they are as bad as they played this weekend. Their goalie struggled, particularly against BU (so I hear), so maybe that was part of it.
It's so tough to get a reading on them. I heard they were a good defensive team, and they weren't. So, honestly... no idea where they're going to end up.
BC lost some key defensemen and one of the nation's best goalies in Parker Milner from a season ago. How is the team looking for this season in replacing those guys?
Joe Gravellese: Not to disrespect any of the guys BC lost - all of whom played major roles in their national title run(s) - especially Milner... what came in this year looks to be much better on that front than what we lost.
Ian McCoshen, Steve Santini, and Scott Savage are instantly 3 of our best 4 defensemen. They have been electric on offense and defense.
Thatcher Demko is expected to be a standout in net at BC and he will probably play one of the two games this weekend, as Jerry York has instituted a rotation between him and junior Brian Billett.
I'm a huge fan of Parker Milner and what he did for BC, playing a big role in 2010 and an even bigger role in 2012. But statistically, he did not have a very good year in 2013. A lot of that can be attributed to poor defense, but the numbers are what they are. They shouldn't be too hard for Billett/Demko to team up and replace
TDG: You have three Canadians on your roster, all from British Columbia. Why do you hate America? And is there some rule we don't know about where BC can only take Canadians from BC?
Joe Gravellese: Well, I think we have instituted the rule that any Canadians we have must be gingers, or at least be of Irish descent so they can fit in with the rest of the team. So that helps.
In all seriousness, 1) Much like Minnesota, BC hasn't really needed to recruit Canada to get top talent, so that's why you don't usually see many Canadians on the team. But given BC's elite status, someone like Mike Matheson who is one of the best prospects in college hockey is going to be drawn to BC and I wouldn't be surprised to see more like him going forward. Matheson is actually from Quebec, not from BC. 2) For whatever reason we have had the BC-to-BC pipeline going for a while now. For some time, Brock Bradford was the only Canadian on the team, and he was from BC; we recruited a women's hockey player, Lindsey Wright, from BC on the same recruiting trip where we got Bradford. There's probably something to this.
TDG: Thoughts on the changing landscape in college hockey. Getting Notre Dame can't be a bad thing for Hockey East, but how do you feel about all of this realignment? Grant: oh i want this
Grant Salzano: Maybe I'm speaking in hyperbole here, but none of us were happy when Notre Dame was added to the conference.
I get that Notre Dame is really good, and has a shiny new arena, and will probably be a contender for years to come... but I just don't care. Hockey East didn't need to change things up just because the rest of the country did.
The best thing Hockey East had going for it was its 'Bus League" dynamic. Not a single in-conference game required a flight. Yes, Providence to Maine is like a 4 and a half hour haul, but you guys make that trip every week to go touque shopping or whatever it is you Southern Canadians do out there.
And worst of all, adding Notre Dame meant we added UConn. What the Christ is that garbage? Seriously. Ugh. UConn. So that's the biggest problem with adding Notre Dame.
Of course we could have gone after Quinnipiac but nooooo...
Anyway, realignment is probably dumb, since you guys don't get to play all of your traditional rivals anymore. But it shouldn't have affected the east in the slightest.
Ugh. So dumb. UConn, guys.
TDG: BC has become the measuring stick for elite college hockey programs in recent years, so Gopher fans have been excited about this one for awhile. How do BC fans feel about this series with Minnesota?
Grant Salzano: We love you guys. Maroon and Gold. Arrogance. Hatred from everyone else around us. Titles. History. Success. Etc.
I have found these last few years -- in both men's and women's hockey -- that I'm all buddy-buddy until the game, and then I hate you guys because your men's and women's teams are full of such dirty hacks.
But then after a few days I get over it and everything is okay and I like you guys again.
As far as on-the-ice -- I haven't seen anyone out here pick a BC sweep, there's too much respect for the Gopher's talent for that, and many of us are talking about a split like it would be a big boost to our season. Which, really, it would be.
Having said that, a sweep by either team wouldn't shock me. It's just that getting swept would be horrible and sweeping you guys would put me over the freaking moon.
TDG: Give me three keys to the series this weekend.
Joe Gravellese: For BC, it's usually pretty simple... 1) stay out of the goddamn box (a repeated problem). 2) when defensemen are turning around or serving as traffic cones, that's bad news. Last year, this tended to happen in bunches. See: the Minnesota game, the BU game in the Hockey East semifinals, the Union game. Eek. 3) Johnny Gaudreau needs to be on the scoresheet and making plays for BC.
TDG: Call it- do we a see a sweep or split at Mariucci this weekend?
Joe Gravellese: I'm saying it will be a split, with BC coming in strong on the heels of last weekend with an impressive win on Friday, and Minnesota edging the Eagles on Sunday.
Grant Salzano: Split, of course. But I'll take the opposite, with Minnesota taking the first game and BC taking the last game to give BC fans at least some moderate warm-and-fuzzies. BC wins on aggregate because reasons.
For coverage of Boston College men's and women's hockey go to BCInterruption.com, and you can also follow the crew on Twitter at @bcinterruption, @joegrav, and @salzano14