The Battle of Comm. Ave. is Back

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Photo by BCEagles.com

The last time Boston College and Boston University met in a game where both teams were coming off a season in which they missed the NCAA Tournament was November 1, 1988. From 1989 through 2018 at least one of the two has played in the postseason. But don’t expect the emotion to be dulled. Both teams understand the importance of this game and this rivalry.

It’s also a matchup that’s long overdue. Because The Battle of Comm. Ave. took place in the fall semester of last season and the spring semester of this season, the two didn’t face each other once during the 2019 calendar year. This marks the longest stretch between two BC-BU games since the Eagles joined Hockey East in 1984.

The real difference between the two is that BC’s offseason was marked by an influx of talent, whereas BU’s summer saw an exodus. While BC added its talented trio of first round picks, BU lost Dante Fabbro, Joel Farabee and Chad Krys, among others. All three had collegiate eligibility remaining.

Last season, BC went 1-0-1 against BU, winning the game at Agganis Arena and fighting to a 0-0 draw the following night back home at Conte Forum.

BU hasn’t quite had a rebound season on par with BC’s, as the Terriers sit at 8-7-5. They do, however, boast wins over UMass, Northeastern and Harvard. David Farrance, one of the nation’s top offensive-defensemen, leads the team with 11 goals. Farrance anchors a strong blue line that also includes 6-foot-6-inch, 2019 second round pick Alex Vlasic.

While the defense has been strong, goaltending has been a big weakness for BU, as they haven’t been able to find a replacement for Jake Oettinger. Thus far, three different goalies have started, including freshman Ashton Abel, who logged his first career start in Friday night’s win over Merrimack. Yale transfer Sam Tucker has seen the bulk of the action, posting a 2.72 goals against average in 18 games this season.

The offense has been middle-of-the-pack but does have some interesting pieces, chiefly freshman Trevor Zegras who was recently ranked by The Athletic’s Corey Pronman as the top NHL prospect after lighting it up at the World Juniors. He was selected ninth overall by the Anaheim Ducks last June. The forward unit should be in for a bit of a boost with the return of Logan Cockerill who appeared in his first game since October last night against Merrimack.

BC is 14-5-0 after Friday night’s come-from-behind victory over UMass Lowell. The Eagles gave up two goals in the first 80 seconds of the game, but Spencer Knight held strong from the point on, allowing BC to claw back for a 3-2 victory.

Saturday night’s game is the first of three editions of the Battle of Comm. Ave. in the next month and a half. On February 3rd, the teams will face off at the TD Garden in the first round of the Beanpot, and BU will host BC on February 29th. A first round matchup in the Hockey East Tournament is still very much on the table, as well. You can’t ask for much more as a fan of college hockey.

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