Boston College vs. Denver: Previewing This Weekend's Matchup
(Photo Courtesy of BCEagles.com)
After kicking off the season with two wins, the first 2-0 start for the program since 2011-12, Boston College travels to Denver to face the No. 1 Pioneers. Denver is 4-0-0, coming off two weekend sweeps on the road against Alaska Fairbanks and Lake Superior State. Of the four games, Denver won handily in two but needed goals in the final minute of the other two to come away victorious.
Denver’s top two NHL prospects, forward Bobby Brink and defenseman Ian Mitchell, each logged two goals and two assists over that first stretch of games. Their respective performances were enough to earn Brink NCHC Rookie of the Week and Mitchell NCHC Defenseman of the Week.
BC’s wins over Wisconsin and Colgate snapped the program out of a prolonged funk against teams outside Hockey East. Before the win over the Badgers, the Eagles hadn’t won a non-Beanpot, non-conference game since a 3-1 victory over Arizona State on November 13, 2016. Now, against Denver, BC will see a model for consistency in handling out-of-conference opponents, as the Pioneers are undefeated in their last 15 non-conference games.
The Eagles offense, which averaged under 2.50 goals per game last season, looked solid during the first weekend of the season, scoring five goals against Wisconsin and adding three more against Colgate. The first line trio of David Cotton, Logan Hutsko and Julius Mattila contributed to five of the eight goals, with Mattila almost going for a hat trick against Wisconsin. Freshmen Matt Boldy and Marshall Warren also each recorded their first collegiate goals against Wisconsin.
In net, Spencer Knight will be opposed by fellow freshman Magnus Chrona. Like Knight with Joe Woll, Chrona will be replacing a quality goaltender in fellow Swede Filip Larsson, who was sensational during his only season at Denver, posting a 1.95 goals against average and .932 save percentage in 22 games for the Pioneers. After allowing 2 goals in his first collegiate period, Chrona has really settled into his role, posting a combined 1.75 goals against average through four games.
Knight, meanwhile, has been as advertised for the Eagles. The first round pick of the Florida Panthers made key saves to keep BC ahead against Wisconsin. Then, against Colgate, he posted his first collegiate shutout, turning away all 39 shots he faced, including 21 in the second period.
One area where Denver has the advantage is on special teams. Against Wisconsin, BC gave up two power play goals, both to sniper Cole Caufield. On the flip side, they weren’t able to convert after Ty Emberson received a five minute major for his hit on Alex Newhook and even yielded a short-handed goal towards the end of that prolonged power play.
In Denver, BC will be going up against the best special teams unit on the young season. The Pioneers are a perfect 18-for-18 on the penalty kill and have two short-handed goals.
As Denver doesn’t have a football team, this will be Parents’ Weekend and Homecoming for the Pioneers. The game will also be a future homecoming of sorts for two BC players, as both Newhook and Drew Helleson were drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Friday night’s game can be heard on WEEI 850 AM, while Saturday’s contest will be televised on NESN Plus.
Around the Hockey East:
- UMass Lowell knocked off preseason No. 1 Minnesota Duluth on the road 3-2 in Duluth’s first game of the season.
- Merrimack gave up 11 goals to Wisconsin the night after the Badgers fell to BC.
- In the only Hockey East game of the season, Northeastern defeated UMass 3-1 behind a 34-save performance from Merrimack transfer Craig Pantano.