Worcester, Mass. -- Boston College has had plenty of success over the years at the DCU Center. All four NCAA Championships the program has won under Jerry York has come after advancing from a regional in Worcester.
Standing in the Eagles' way of advancing to the 2016 Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla. is Minnesota Duluth. The Bulldogs upset Providence, the region's top seed and defending NCAA Champions, 2-1, in double overtime on Friday. BC advanced to Saturday's Northeast Regional Final with a convincing 4-1 triumph over Harvard.
BC is certainly the favorite on paper and will be tough to beat in front of a largely partisan crowd just about an hour from its campus in Chestnut Hill. However, UMD does a lot of things well that will make it difficult for the Eagles to do what they want to control the game.
Keys to the Game
Minnesota Duluth did a good job of controlling the neutral zone and not letting Providence push it up the ice on Friday. The Bulldogs will need to do that again Saturday night. Limiting guys like Miles Wood, Alex Tuch and Zach Sanford to have free reign entering the offensive zone is critical.
Boston College, as the home team, obviously has the last change. That could play a significant role as the Eagles try to minimize the speed of UMD's 'KFC' line - Austin Farley, Tony Cameranesi and Karson Kuhlman. UMD's top line is a little more difficult to handle because it combines size and speed, but BC has plenty of guys -- Wood and Tuch, specifically, that come to mind that can counterbalance that.
BC has a plethora of riches up front -- nine NHL Draft picks among the 12 forwards dressed. UMD's defense was very good Friday. Senior Andy Welinski and freshman Neal Pionk logged a ton of ice time. The top pairing was very good. Welinski was a man among boys out there, which he'll need to be again to shut down the likes of Tuch, Sanford, White, Fitzgerald and Wood. The second pairing is also very good and a little more mobile. The ability of Carson Soucy and Willie Raskob to skate with BC's forwards will be imperative.
Another thing BC has to do, and it did a better job of doing so Friday night, is play a simpler game. There is plenty of talent to create chances without taking unnecessary risks and making cute passes. Some lapses in judgement led to UVM and Northeastern goals in the Hockey East Quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.
Lastly, both goaltenders were sharp last night. Kasimir Kaskisuo faced less rubber than his counterpart in the double overtime win over Providence, but he made several big-time stops. He looked confident in the crease and was aggressive. Thatcher Demko was spotted some 'run support' with the 3-0 lead just 22 minutes into the game, but he made a couple of point blank saves on Sean Malone and Jimmy Vesey that were potential game changers.