BOSTON — Boston College enters the 2014 Beanpot as the No.2 ranked team in the NCAA polls and the overwhelming favorite to win the nation’s most prestigious college hockey tournament for a fifth consecutive year.
The question going into Monday night’s semifinals at TD Garden is a simple one: Does any team have a shot at dethroning the Eagles?
For Boston University (8-14-3; 3-8-2 Hockey East), Northeastern (15-8-3; 8-5-1 HE) or Harvard (6-11-3; 3-9-3 ECAC) to stop Boston College (19-4-3; 12-1-1 HE) from winning its eighth Beanpot championship since 1995, they must play a physical and structured defensive game, and stay out of the penalty box.
Boston College has an incredibly talented and deep group of forwards, and it’s top line is the toughest trio in the nation to shut down. It features the country’s leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau, who’s tallied 51 points (23 goals, 28 assists) in 26 games. The Calgary Flames prospect also is tied with several players for the most game-winning goals (five) this season.
Gaudreau’s linemates Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold rank second and sixth in Division I scoring with 45 and 36 points, respectively. The chemistry between these three forwards is remarkable, and their experience in high-pressure games will be a real asset for BC in this tournament.
In addition to a high-powered offense that leads Hockey East with 3.86 goals scored per game, the Eagles also challenge opponents with an impressive defense that excels short-handed.
BC allows the fewest goals in Hockey East (2.04/game) and its 91.8 penalty kill percentage leads the conference. Eagles goaltenders Thatcher Demko and Brian Billet have combined for a 12-1-1 record in Hockey East play. Demko, a freshman, is likely to start for the Eagles on Monday and leads Hockey East with a 1.16 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage.
Boston College is one of the more well-rounded (and most experienced) squads in the nation, and it’s going to take a near-perfect performance from the other three Beanpot teams for the defending champs to be defeated in this year’s tournament. The Eagles are 5-0 against Beanpot opponents this season and have outscored them 24-11.
The Terriers will be the first challenger for the Eagles when the two rivals write a new chapter in their storied rivalry at 8 p.m. ET in the second semifinal of Monday’s schedule.
A third win against the Terriers this season would give the Eagles their seventh Beanpot final appearance in the last eight years.
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