#2 Boston College vs. #7 UMass: Prediction and Preview

BC and UMass, two of the top tier programs in Hockey East are battling this weekend in a home and home series.
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Boston College men's hockey will again try to get their season started as they take on the UMass Minutemen this weekend. Last weekend the Eagles had their games cancelled against UNH due to COVID-19 issues, and this series came together after BC's series against Providence was also postponed. 

Expectations are high for the Eagles, who won the Hockey East regular season championship last season. Led by stalwart goalie Spencer Knight, the Eagles also return two of their primary scorers from last season (Logan Hustko & Alex Newhook). However, Newhook will miss the game as he is preparing to play with Team Canada in the World Junior Selection Camp.

This should be a battle of not only two Hockey East contenders, but also contenders for the Frozen Four this spring. The Minutemen were in the National Championship only two years ago. 

2019-20 Records: BC: 17-6-1 in Hockey East, UMass 14-8-2 in Hockey East

Series History: Boston College leads the overall series with UMass 66-16-3 with a 30-7-1 head-to-head advantage dating back to 2008

Last Season Head to Head: 2-1-0

Recent Results: BC: Idle 

UMass beat UConn 5-1 at home last Friday to open the season, then tied the Huskies 2-2 in Storrs the following night but lost in a shootout

When: Friday: at BC 6pm, Saturday: at UMass 4:30pm

How To Watch & Listen: Friday's game will be televised on NESN and streamed on SportsLive (CollegeSportsLive.com) outside New England. Saturday's game will be on NESN+. Radio coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. both nights on WEEI 850-AM and BCEagles.com with Jon Rish and Andy Powers.

Follow Along: We will be watching the game and giving our feedback here on the site during the game. But you can also follow us on Twitter @BostonCollegeSI

Keys to the Game:

1. Settle In: Just like every other sport trying to restart after COVID-19, it's going to be challenging getting everything going right away. Add in a handful of freshmen who haven't played a game at the collegiate level and you can expect some sloppiness to start the season. This weekend could be dictated by which team can calm down first and start to play their game.

2. Find their offense: Last year the Eagles were one of the top goal scorers in the country finishing second in goals per game (4.0). However, they lost a chunk of their offense with Julius Mattila and David Cotton both moving on, and Alex Newhook unavailable for this game. Hutsko is now the leader on offense, but where else will BC find their offense?

3. Big night(s) from Knight. The biggest weapon Boston College has this year could be their goaltender Spencer Knight. As a freshman he was electric and was tied for third in the nation with five shutouts and ranked fifth nationally in winning percentage (.727) with a 23-8-2 record in 33 starts. His play can take over games, if he has a big weekend, it could be a long two games for the Minutemen.

AJ's Predictions: UNH was a tough out for the Eagles last year, but I expect strong play from Knight to be the difference this weekend. If UNH struggles out of the gate, BC should be able to find a quick goal, which should be all Knight needs. Friday: BC 3-1, Saturday BC 2-1.

Photo courtesy of BCEagles.com