Boston College hosts Providence College on Friday night at 7 p.m. in a matchup of the top two teams in the Hockey East standings. It will be the first of two regular season meetings between the two clubs.
Each team had a win, a loss and a tie in the season series last year. The Friars and Eagles tied, 3-3, in the first game of the season at Schneider Arena. The two teams met again in the second to last weekend of the regular season with each team winning at the other team's barn. Boston College won, 3-2, at Providence before PC slammed the Eagles, 5-1, at Conte Forum a night later.
Boston College fans will witness an even further improved Providence team on Friday night, but the Friars have been struggling of late. The Friars are 2-2-2 over their last six games, but it has been up-and-down hockey with the inability to put a full 60 minutes together that has been most concerning.
Junior forward Ross Mauermann leads the charge offensively with 14 goals and 14 assists in 21 games played. The Janesville, Wis. native's point total is double the next closest Friar.
Calgary Flames prospect Mark Jankowski has struggled to find the back of the net after a strong start. The sophomore had four goals in his first four games and hasn't lit the lamp since Nov. 22 when he scored his seventh of the season against New Hampshire.
The Friars have a very strong defensive core made up of players who are strong at both ends of the ice. Calgary prospect John Gilmour is perhaps the best known of the group, but senior captain Steven Shamanski is as solid as they come in Hockey East. The Carberry, Manitoba native is tied for the team lead among defensemen in plus/minus with +14, but his offensive ability was showcased in last Saturday's game against Merrimack at Fenway Park. His power play dangle evened the score at one and stood up as the last tally of the game.
Jon Gillies started his first game since leaving for the World Junior Championship on Tuesday night against Northeastern, and wasn't fully on top of his game, but the loss certainly can't be blamed on him. The South Portland, Maine native stopped 27 of 29 shots faced.
Boston College hasn't played since its 4-3 triumph over rival Notre Dame in the second game of the Frozen Fenway doubleheader last Saturday. The Eagles' top line is certainly marching to a different beat, as Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes appear unstoppable.
The real interesting decision will be made by head coach Jerry York. Does he give Thatcher Demko the nod in net, having not seen game action since Dec. 7 or does he keep Brian Billett between the pipes? Demko was the third string goaltender for the Americans at the World Juniors so he missed time with BC and didn't get into a game over in Sweden.
|Record||13-4-4, 6-3-1 HE||13-4-2, 7-1-1 HE|
|Home/Away Record||5-1-2 (Away)||5-1-1 (Home)|
|Goals Per Game||3.24 (4th)||4.42 (1st)|
|Goals Against Per Game||2.00 (T-2nd)||2.32 (6th)|
|Power Play Percentage||13.3 (10th)||14.9 (8th)|
|Penalty Kill Percentage||86.2 (3rd)||90.1 (1st)|
|Leading Goal Scorer||Ross Mauermann (14)||Johnny Gaudreau (17)|
|Assists Leader||Ross Mauermann (14)||Bill Arnold (21)|
|Projected Starting Goalie||Jon Gillies (.941)||Thatcher Demko (.911)|
|NHL Draft Picks||5||10|
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.