After regular season redemption against Boston College last season, the Golden Gophers men’s hockey team will host the Eagles in a weekend series at Mariucci Arena for the first time since October of 1999. Minnesota defeated then No. 1 ranked Boston College 8-1 last December to win the Mariucci Classic.
The tables are turned this year as the Eagles visit Minnesota as the No. 5 ranked team in the USCHO.com polls. Minnesota is the top-ranked team in the nation after their weekend road sweep of Bemidji State. Still, the Eagles pose the toughest test to date for the Maroon and Gold as they battle the team that took them out of the 2012 Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla.
Boston College would go on to win the NCAA National Championship that year over Ferris State as the Gophers looked on.
This season, both teams are a force to be reckoned with. Boston College lost an opening matchup with Big Ten Hockey foe Michigan 3-1, but bounced back with blowout wins over Rensselaer and the Wisconsin Badgers. This will mark the first weekend series for the Eagles against a single opponent, as it is a part of the Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge.
Currently, Hockey East holds a 9-4 lead in the challenge heading into the weekend.
Leading the way for Boston College is junior forward Johnny Gaudreau with seven points in three games. The Calgary Flames draft pick is leading the nation in points per game at 2.33 per — just ahead of Minnesota’s Sam Warning with 2.25 per game.
Boston College’s lone Minnesotan on their roster is junior forward Michael Sit. The Edina High School grad scored the first collegiate goal against Wisconsin last weekend.
Don Lucia will bring his undefeated squad at 4-0-0 into the series with one of the top scoring lines in the country with Hudson Fasching, Kyle Rau, and Warning. The combination has 20 combined points over the first two weekends of the year.
Early season battles are what Minnesota needs to help develop the grit they will need to go deep in the playoffs. Boston College and next week’s opponent — Notre Dame — will provide that for Minnesota as the Big Ten Conference will need all the help it can get to live up the level of competition the Western Collegiate Hockey Conference gave Minnesota over the last 60 years.
The weekend series will be split between Friday at 7 p.m. CST and Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games can be heard on 1500 ESPN radio locally as well as online. Friday’s game will also be available on the Big Ten Network and Sunday’s game can be found on Fox Sports North.
Whatever the outcome, Minnesota will be just fine coming out of the next two weeks of the season. A sweep this weekend will be quite impressive for the Gophers. A split should be expected and celebrated against the Eagles.
Prediction: Friday – Boston College 4, Minnesota 2. Saturday – Minnesota 2, Boston College 1.