BOSTON -- As I sit in the press box behind a snow-covered home plate, there is only one way I can think to begin this: “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and welcome to Fenway Park!”
Snow pushed things back a day, but we’re just about set to commence the first of two outdoor Hockey East doubleheaders over the next week with Boston University and UMass set for a 1:30 p.m. puck drop. The 5 p.m. nightcap features Boston College and Providence.
NESN and TSN Go will televise both games today with Tom Caron, Billy Jaffe and Guerin Austin on the call. With the Boston Bruins playing at 5 p.m., the BC-Providence game will be televised on NESNplus and NESN National.
Ten players on today’s rosters recently returned from capturing gold with Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championship. I wrote about that group (which combined for 18 points, 41 points and two wins in goal) in this preview piece yesterday.
Now, a few notes entering today’s games:
The early contest features a pair of teams in extreme opposite states as BU earned its third straight win and tenth in 15 games Thursday night against Union, while UMass’ 3-0 loss Tuesday to AIC was its seventh in eight games.
Sophomore Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored the last two goals of the Terriers’ latest contest ― a 5-4 win, capping off his first collegiate hat trick with the game-winning goal 2:51 into overtime. Bobo Carpenter also had three points in that game.
Patrick Harper is BU’s leading scorer and the second-highest scoring freshman in Hockey East with 20 points through 17 games, while his seven goals are tied with Clayton Keller for the team lead. Keller was Team USA’s leading scorer at World Juniors, posting 11 points.
UMass has seen freshmen account for 39.5 percent of its goals this season as Jonny Lazarus and Griff Jezka each have five. Sophomores Austin Plevy and Kurt Keats lead the Minutemen in scoring through, with 12 points apiece.
TERRIERS (11-5-2, 4-2-2)
Kieffer Bellows - Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson - Patrick Harper
Jordan Greenway - Clayton Keller - Bobo Carpenter
Nikolas Olsson - Ryan Cloonan - Patrick Curry
Tommy Kelley - Gabriel Chabot - Nick Roberto
Chad Krys - Charlie McAvoy
Brandon Hickey - Dante Fabbro
Doyle Somerby - John MacLeod
MINUTEMEN (5-14-2, 2-7-1)
Brett Boeing - Steven Iacobellis - Niko Hildenbrand
Austin Plevy - Jack Suter - Jonny Lazarus
Kurt Keats - Ryan Badger - Ray Pigozzi
Griff Jeszka - Joseph Widmar
William Lagesson - Jake Horton
Jake McLaughlin - Shane Bear
Ivan Chukarov - Callum Fryer
The Friars are 3-0-2 in their last five games after posting an impressive past weekend against then-No. 2 Denver, skating to a 2-2 tie and 3-1 win. PC never trailed in the series finale as it took a 1-0 lead and then freshman Josh Wilkins scored the first of the team’s two third-period goals at the 1:16 mark.
Three of the Friars’ games in their current unbeaten stretch have been against top-ten teams as it opened the month of December against BU. However, tonight PC is looking for its first Hockey East win since Nov. 19 against Northeastern.
On the flip side, the Eagles are looking to rebound from an 0-1-1 weekend against Quinnipiac and Ferris State at the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh, but are off to their best-ever Hockey East start and did not lose a league game until Dec. 10 at Notre Dame.
BC won just once in five December contests and will look to create some momentum in its fourth-ever Fenway contest before taking on the archrival Terriers next Friday. Sophomore Michael Kim scored BC’s lone goal with 4:47 to play against the Bulldogs, but it settled for a draw despite totaling 59 shots.
EAGLES (13-7-2, 8-1-1)
Ryan Fitzgerald - Austin Cangelosi - Christopher Brown
David Cotton - Matthew Gaudreau - J.D. Dudek
Graham McPhee - Julius Mattila - Chris Calnan
Ron Greco - Mike Booth - Zach Walker
Jesper Mattila - Connor Moore
Luke McInnis - Scott Savage
Michael Kim - Casey Fitzgerald (game-time decision)
Michael Campoli (dressing for warm-ups)
FRIARS (8-6-4, 1-4-2)
Josh Wilkins - Brian Pinho - Ryan Tait
Brandon Duhaime - Scott Conway - Kasper Bjorkqvist
Erik Foley - Bryan Lemos - Shane Kavanaugh
Conor MacPhee - Robbie Hennessey - Niko Rufo
Garrett Gamez (dressing for warm-ups)
Kyle McKenzie - Anthony Florentino
Jake Walman - Josh Monk
Jacob Bryson - Vincent Desharnais