2013 Frozen Four - The "Time For Some Payback!" Q&A

Todd Huxley Smith

We check in on the Boston College Women's puck squad by querying Grant Salzano and Joe Gravellese of BC Interruption.

Ah Boston College...The Gophers may be 4-1-1 against BC, but their last meeting (3-1 NCAA Quarterfinals loss in 2011) needs to be rectified. But to evaluate the matchup I needed knowledge. Thankfully, Joe Gravellese (@joegrav) and Grant Salzano (@Salzano14) from the fine SB Nation blog BC Interruption (@bcinterruption) were there to help.

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The Daily Gopher: With national media coverage of women's hockey being so sparse, I'm sure many Gopher fans come into this weekend not knowing a ton about BC. Could you start us off with a high level overview (what's their style of play, are they a deep team, etc)?

Joseph Gravellese: BC's strength is their depth. They come at you with three lines who can score.
Caitlin Walsh, who scored the game winner against Harvard, is on the third line, as is Ashley Motherwell, a senior leader and goal threat.

But obviously the meat and potatoes of BC is the superstars on the top two lines, most noticeably Alex Carpenter, who has 32 goals. Which might not seem like a lot to Gopher fans, but it's a lot to anyone else.

When the Eagles are at their best, they play fast, tenacious hockey. They're also very physical, which to me puts them more in line with the style of game you see more among top WCHA teams, at least from my perspective occasionally watching them on TV or online.
The flipside to this is that they tend to take inopportune penalties.

Because of the nature of this matchup, goaltending will be key. Corinne Boyles is a senior and someone who has been on the USA Hockey radar from time to time. She struggled a bit early in the year but has come on strong and now leads Hockey East in GAA and save %.

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TDG: BC doesn't seem to be lacking for talent with 6 Hockey East award winners (including the Player/Defenseman/Goalie of the Year trifecta) and the stats for BC's stars are impressive. For example, PoY and Scoring Champ Alex Carpenter (Soph/F) tallied a league-record 48 points (25g, 23a) in 21 conference games and GoY Corinne Boyles led the league in goals against with a 1.81 average. But stats don't always tell the whole story. Who do you think the most important players are on this BC team and why?

Grant Salzano: "Important" is an interesting angle to take. Carpenter is the best player in the east and will be a serious Patty Kaz threat either next year or the year after, depending on if she makes the Olympic squad.

But I'm going to go with senior defenseman Blake Bolden as our most 'important' player right now. Obviously BC can score -- and Bolden is a part of that with 29 points on the year.

But more than that is the fact that we need to shut down Minnesota's top players. She can do that, but she needs to do that without taking penalties. She leads the team by a pretty wide margin in penalties.

BC can beat anyone on any given night, but has seen plenty of games against inferior competition be too close because of inopportune penalties. So a clean shutdown game from Bolden will be key.

Shout out to Joe's mention of Corinne Boyles, who really needs to have one of the best games of her career and match up with Noora Räty save for save across the ice.

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TDG: Minnesota has been having a stellar season keeping opposing teams off the scoreboard, having allowed teams to score 3 goals only three times in 39 games. The rest of the season? 21 shutouts, 8 games with one goal against, and 10 games where the opponent potted two goals. Do you think BC has the firepower to push Noora Raty and the Minnesota defense? Or will the Eagles have to grind it out if they want to win? Does facing a team like Minnesota present any additional challenges for BC based on their style of play?

JG: I don't think facing Minnesota is any sort of stylistic challenge for BC. It's a talent challenge, because quite frankly, BC has not faced anyone with this kind of firepower, maybe ever. BU has Marie Philip Poulin - multiply her by about six and you've got the Gophers' first line.

BC just put up 3 goals on a Harvard team that gave up just 38 goals in the prior 33 games. So I do think BC can score on Minnesota.

I would love to say BC can/should dictate the flow of the game one way or the other and try to have it turn out to their liking, but I'll be honest, I'm expecting Minnesota to dictate the flow.

High or low scoring, BC only wins by getting great goaltending, excellent special teams, and opportune attacking.
One trait BC has shown all year is the ability to grind out wins in the third period (/overtime) when games are on the line. Minnesota tends to have a habit this year of really pulling away in the third. Something's gotta give.

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TDG: What were the expectations for this BC team coming into the year? Would a loss leave the team and fans feeling disappointed beyond the normal post-loss letdown? Or do you feel that the Eagles have already exceeded any reasonable pre-season goals?

GS: I'm about as positive as it gets as far as expectations are concerned. I was talking potential national championship from day one in our season preview.

Interestingly, going into this game, despite having easily the best season as far as wins goes in our team's history -- the season has actually been a complete letdown. We lost the Beanpot. We lose the Hockey East regular season title in the last weekend after a horrible tie to Vermont. We lose the Hockey East tournament championship.

Going into the game against Harvard in the quarterfinals, it was almost a feeling of "God, this will be an entirely lost season if we don't at least get a Frozen Four out of this." Fortunately, we got to that benchmark.

BC went into the season hoping to advance past just getting to the Frozen Four, though. Facing Minnesota in the semifinals is a bit of an annoyance but losing all that other hardware will mean nothing if we're able to pull off the upset.

JG: I'll just add: Nobody could be realistically disappointed by a loss to the Gophers this year. BUT, for the reasons Grant outlined above, I wouldn't say expecations have already been met.

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TDG: Predictions?

JG: Oh boy. Do I have to?

I really like this BC team. I REALLY believe in this BC team. They've played their best against the best competition.
But Minnesota is really good. And it's in Minnesota.

Ugh.

I'm going to have to say 3-2 Minnesota. While holding my nose. And sincerely hoping this somehow ends up as bulletin board material. (NO RESPECT!)

GS: Before the Harvard game I would have had to call a BC loss (and, in fact, did in my tournament preview). But as I said in there -- a good win against Harvard might change my mind. And we got that good win against Harvard.

I'm going to go with the wild prediction of saying 3-1 BC. I really think the Eagles are the best team Minnesota will play all year. I'm not saying BC is the better team... But BC has the talent to win a game here and there against Minnesota.

They might win nine out of ten. But not this one. Insert speech from "Miracle" here.

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A big thank you to Joe and Grant for the great answers. Keep and eye out later tonight for press conference summaries for both BC and Minnesota. And as always, stop by tomorrow for the Women's Hockey OPEN THREAD.

SKI-U-MAH!

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For more coverage of Boston College sports, go to BC Interruption or follow @bcinterruption on Twitter.

Follow The Daily Gopher on Twitter at @TheDailyGopher.

You can follow GoAUpher on Twitter at @GoAUpher.

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