College Hockey Series of the Week: Boston College vs. UMass Lowell
Hockey East is a league that is extremely unpredictable year in and year out. As each season starts, you wonder if the blue bloods like Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern will remain at the top. Or in BC’s case for this particular season, make up for lost time.
As the calendar shifts to 2020, Boston College (13-5) sits at No. 5 in the PairWise rankings and are already looked upon as a lock for the NCAA Tournament after missing out for three straight seasons.
The Eagles will look to boost their résumé against No. 13 Hockey East foe UMass Lowell (12-5-4) in a one-game tilt at Tsongas Arena in Lowell and make a push toward the top of the conference standings.
Coach Jerry York’s troops have had a knack for scoring at a high rate this season, and it has really shown through 18 games. Boston College is tied for third in the nation in scoring, averaging 3.94 goals per game. That production is a total team effort.
Carolina Hurricanes draft pick David Cotton and Florida Panthers draft pick Logan Hutsko each have 10 goals, with other players, such as Aapeli Räsänen and Alex Newhook also contributing in the goals department.
Senior forward Julius Mattila is second on the team in total points with 24, which is one point behind Cotton. The Finnish prospect has 19 assists and is a player that has an extremely high IQ in pressure spots.
On defense, Boston College has three defensemen with plus/minus ratings above plus-10, and that is an extremely comforting sign for this Eagles team.
The trio of Minnesota Wild draft pick Marshall Warren, Jesper Mattila and Florida Panthers draft pick Ben Finkelstein have proven time and time again that they are a force to be reckoned with on the back end.
In net, Boston College has one of the better goaltenders in the nation in Spencer Knight. The 2019 first-round pick by the Florida Panthers ranks seventh in the nation in goals-against with an average of 1.82.
In addition, the young freshman holds a record of 12-5, a save percentage of .937, which is good for No. 6 in the country, and has recorded four shutouts.
For the River Hawks, they too have quite a bit of firepower on the attack, with seven players above 10 points. UMass Lowell’s offense ranks No. 29 in college hockey with 2.70 goals per game, but it is extremely balanced in every aspect of their game.
Of UMass Lowell’s top four scorers, three of them are freshmen. Matt Brown, Carl Berglund and Andre Lee have put up a combined 20 goals, 32 assists and 52 points through 21 games played.
Lee, a Los Angeles Kings draft pick, has an extremely high ceiling and has big-play capability any time he steps onto the ice.
If there’s one thing in particular to look out for, it’s River Hawks netminder Tyler Wall. The New York Rangers draft pick has been having a stellar season thus far.
In 19 games played, Wall has a record of 12-3-4, a save percentage of .941, which ranks second in the country, and a goals-against average of 1.81, which puts him at No. 6 on a rather impressive list alongside players such as Minnesota State’s Dryden McKay and Cornell’s Matthew Galajda.
This one game is extra personal for both sides, as the two schools are separated by just over 30 miles. There is no doubt that the goalies will be the headline of this heavyweight clash, but it all comes down to which offense shows up.
Boston College’s prolific attack has the ability to break a game open at any time. UMass Lowell uses its back end to win games and does just enough to hang around with its competition. However, the River Hawks are also coming off a shocking sweep courtesy of Atlantic Hockey’s RIT.
Look for the Eagles to come out soaring and put pressure on Wall from the get-go. If they can score first and catch UMass Lowell still a bit hungover from its past two losses, things could get ugly fast.
Prediction: Boston College 4, UMass Lowell 2
Christopher Hess is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.