Hockey East Semifinal #1: No. 1 Boston College (27-10-1) vs. No. 7 Providence College (14-19-1)
Game Time: 5 p.m.
Game Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
TV: NESN in New England, NBC Sports Network outside of New England
Providence College is playing hockey like a campfire s'more. They began their season strong, started to crack a bit with injuries as the season wore on, played like soft like marshmallow goo in February, but then emerged strong like a overtoasted graham cracker in the Hockey East playoffs.
The return of senior leader Tim Schaller refocused the Friars last weekend, helping them shock UMass Lowell in their best of three semifinal, beating them in game 1 5-2, losing in overtime in game 2, game 3, 1-0. They became the first number seven seed to advance to the semifinal game in the history of the league.
Providence will look for another strong game from senior goalie Alex Beaudry. He faced 101 shots over three games last weekend, and stopped 95 of them in the do-or-die three game series. Friars first year head coach Nate Leaman hopes Beaudry keeps his poise and fire Friday night versus the Eagles. "This year, when he’s on, he’s extremely tough to beat," said Leaman in a media availability earlier this week. "The biggest thing about Beauds is he’s a competitor. He’s a great competitor. He loves the big games."
Boston College is no stranger to big games, and are playing like they are ready to win several down the stretch. The Eagles are the unanimous number one team in the nation for two weeks running, and have won thirteen straight games headed into this evening's semifinal, tying the longest win streak in head coach Jerry York's tenure. They are no stranger to success at the TD Garden, as they have won the last two Hockey East Championships.
Boston College did play tight with eighth ranked UMass last weekend in their quarterfinal series, but the Eagles defensive play gave them the edge in that series and should serve them well in this weekend's tournament. The Eagles have one of college hockey's best defensemen in junior Brian Dumoulin, who won the league's Best Defensive Defenseman award for the second consecutive season. He has 21 points this season and an outstanding +13 in plus/minus.
On either side of the puck, York acknowledges that Dumoulin can win games for the Eagles. "He certainly has an effect on the game, whether it defensively –making a stop or breaking the puck out of the zone – or on offense," said York earlier this week.