A pair of thrilling performances in yesterday’s Hockey East semifinals sets up the tournament’s championship game with a lot at stake for one team (Maine), while the other has their spot already virtually assured (Boston College).
According to the Pairwise Rankings, the method the NCAA uses to choose the tournament field, No. 1 Boston College already has their ticket to the big dance punched and they even know who their first-round opponent will be; they’ll get the winner of the Atlantic Hockey championship game either R.I.T. or Air Force.
If you think having their fate set for them will deter BC from trying to beat Maine, you don’t know Jerry York’s teams very well. After seeing the game Johnny Gaudreau (pictured below) put up against Providence in the semifinals, the Eagles are primed for victory. Considering that BC is in the midst of a 14-game winning streak, things are cruising along nicely and that’s not even accounting for guys like Chris Kreider and Barry Almeida doing much yesterday.
Making things a bit easier for BC was seeing how goalie Parker Milner settled in after a rocky start to their game against Providence. That’s a game that could’ve gotten out of hand had Milner not found his rhythm. Little things like that help keep the Eagles rolling along and they’ll need more of that against Maine.
The Black Bears’ big win over BU help them to virtually in the NCAAs as a team can be. They’ll be at a serious disadvantage in this one as their Hobey Baker Award finalist, Spencer Abbott, left yesterday’s game after taking an elbow to the head. Without Abbott, Maine will be missing their leading scorer although that wasn’t enough to hold them back late in yesterday’s game.
Stepping up in Abbott’s place were forwards Joey Diamond (pictured above) and Greg Shemansky as the Black Bears held off BU. Goalie Dan Sullivan’s late game heroics helped prevent BU from tying the game up late and they’ll need him and the defense to step up big to keep BC off the board. With so many talented scorers on Boston College to hold down, Maine is going to have their hands full to try and steal the Hockey East crown.
No. 1 Boston College faces No. 11 Maine at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN