PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Welcome inside the Dunkin' Donuts Center in downtown Providence, Rhode Island where the 2015 NCAA Division 1 Men's Ice Hockey Championship returns for the first time in two years. Today's opening East Region Semifinal pits Boston College and Denver at 3 p.m.
This afternoon's game will be televised on ESPN2 (as well as TSN2 in Canada) with John Buccigross and Barry Melrose on the call.
BC had last weekend off after falling in a three-game Hockey East quarterfinal series for this second time in as many years, this time to Vermont. Despite the 1-0 loss to the Catamounts on March 15, a No. 11 PairWise position made the Eagles a near at-large lock to the NCAA field for the sixth straight year.
Denver fell to Miami in a NCHC semifinal but ran away to a 5-1 win over North Dakota to capture third place and the slight seeding advantage the following night.
The Pioneers were eliminated from NCAA Tournament contention in the Northeast Regional (in Manchester, N.H. and Worcester, Mass.) in each of the last two seasons and will look to avoid the early exit to Boston College for a second straight year. Last year, the Johnny Gaudreau-Bill Arnold-Kevin Hayes line combined for 13 points and all six BC goals in a 6-2 win.
The teams also met earlier in this season, splitting a pair of 2-1 games in Denver on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2014. Sophomore Ryan Fitzgerald, whose 16 goals lead the Eagles, scored twice in the opener to propel the offense.
NCHC Rookie of the Year and fellow Bruins prospect Danton Heinen did the same to lift the Pioneers on the second night of the early-season series and went on to score a team-best 45 points in 38 games, good enough for third in the nation among rookies.
Denver senior Joey LaLeggia is the second-highest scoring defenseman in Division 1 to Minnesota junior Mike Reilly as he has posted 13 goals and 38 points in 35 games. The Oilers prospect is a Hobey Baker Award top-ten finalist while his 130 career points are fifth most among NCAA Tournament participants.
Here are tonight's lines:
EAGLES (21-13-3, 12-7-3 Hockey East)
Ryan Fitzgerald - Austin Cangelosi - Chris Calnan
Zach Sanford - Adam Gilmour - Alex Tuch
Cam Spiro - Michael Sit - Destry Straight
Quinn Smith - Matthew Gaudreau - Teddy Doherty
Noah Hanifin - Ian McCoshen
Michael Matheson - Steve Santini
Scott Savage - Danny Linell
PIONEERS (23-12-2, 13-10-1 NCHC)
Trevor Moore - Daniel Doremus - Danton Heinen
Evan Janssen - Quentin Shore - Ty Loney
Zac Larraza - Gabe Levin - Emil Romig
Larkin Jacobson - Matt Tabrum - Grant Arnold
Joey LaLeggia - Nolan Zajac
Adam Plant - Josiah Didier
Will Butcher - Nick Neville