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Boston College, UMass Kick Off Weekend Action in Hockey East

The health of UMass starting goaltender Steven Mastalerz will have a huge impact on this series.

Could Johnny Gaudreau be going up against backup goaltenders this weekend?
Could Johnny Gaudreau be going up against backup goaltenders this weekend?

Boston College is the prohibitive favorite in this series regardless of who starts in goal for the University of Massachusetts, but the health of Steven Mastalerz will impact this series significantly. The Minutemen will need all hands on deck in order to squash down the high powered offense of Boston College.

Mastalerz was injured in last Friday's 4-1 loss at the University of New Hampshire. He played through the pain for the remainder of the game, but sat out the next night. UMass lost 9-0 with a combination of Alex Wakaluk and Mac Haight tending goal. John Micheletto's squad has given up 20 goals in the eight games started by Mastalerz. In the other two games UMass has given up 17 goals. That is a big disparity in quantifiable results.

Boston College is hitting full stride it would appear after an 11-0 thrashing of Army and a 5-1 whitewashing of archrival Boston University last weekend. Johnny Gaudreau tallied three goals and added four assists last weekend to lead the way, but seniors Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes are also extremely dangerous.

The Eagles will be without Steve Santini for Thursday's game after a high hit on an Army defender resulted in a game disqualification. Sophomore Michael Matheson and freshman Ian McCoshen lead the defense for Jerry York's squad. Thatcher Demko will presumably get the start Thursday night followed by Brian Billett on Friday. Demko, the highly regard freshman, has the better numbers, but York seems content with rotating the two for the time being.

Micheletto is still trying to figure out what lines work best as evidenced by moving last year's leading scorer Brendan Gracel down to the third line and moving transformed defenseman Adam Phillips to the first line centering Conor Sheary and Michael Pereira. One consistent for UMass has been the line of junior Troy Power with rookies Steven Iacobellis and Ray Pigozzi. Power, a Camarillo, Calif. native, has four goals and four assists on the season after putting up just 17 points in his first two years in Amherst.

Breaking Down the Matchup

Boston College Massachusetts
Record 6-2-1, 3-0-0 HE 3-6-1, 1-2-1 HE
Road/Home Records 2-2-1 (Away) 3-1-1 (Home)
Goals Per Game 5.00 (1st) 2.10 (10th)
Goals Against Per Game 2.44 (6th) 3.70 (11th)
Power Play Percentage 20.6 (4th) 28.6 (1st)
Penalty Kill Percentage 86.4 (3rd) 78.2 (10th)
Top Scorer Johnny Gaudreau (9-9--18) Troy Power (4-4--8)
Starting Goaltender Thatcher Demko (1.96/.928)

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Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.