Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eagles Commence Title Defense

The 2010-2011 Boston College Men's Hockey Team picked up right where last year's squad left off with a win Saturday night at Matthews Arena against Northeastern. It was not the typical 4 goal effort that we've grown accustomed to seeing, but it was a win nonetheless.

The defending national champions walked into a rowdy crowd decked out in all black and sporting "Beat BC" T-shirts, a difficult environment to open the season in. But the Eagles settled them down early with a strong first period. As expected, the top line of Joe Whitney, Brian Gibbons, and Cam Atkinson led the way and three new lines followed suit. John Muse matched the great play of the Huskies' Chris Rawlings (both with 12 saves in the opening period) and the two teams returned to the locker room knotted at 0-0.

The crowd woke up in the second period as the Eagles began to struggle breaking the puck out of the zone, one of the few things that plagued them at times last season. As if that wasn't bad enough the Eagles earned a seat in the penalty box 6 times. With the loss of Matt Price and Matt Lombardi, two excellent senior penalty killers last year, the Eagles should have been concerned. But John Muse stepped up to the challenge, standing on his head for 16 saves, keeping the undisciplined Eagles tied through 2.

The third period was back and forth and physical up until the 11:45 mark when, much to the crowd's dismay, Northeastern's Anthony Bietto was called for interference. The rare 5 forward power play unit of the Eagle's had been 0/2 thus far, but Joe and Steve Whitney proved the third times the charm. At the 12:06 mark Joe did what he does best, making a perfect pass across the Northeastern defense to his younger brother who buried it top corner. That would be all Muse needed as he finished his shutout and earned defensive player of the week honors.

Last year the defense was a huge question mark, but after Saturday's game that doesn't seem to be an issue. Tommy Cross, the first junior to be named assistant captain since Mike Brennan in '06-'07, and Edwin Shea enter their third year on the blue line; Brian Dumoulin returns after a record breaking +/- season; Patch Alber really emerged in last years playoffs; and Wey and Samuelsson each have a year under their belts. Combine that with a two-time national champion goaltender and arguably the best back-up in college hockey - aside from the two-headed beast in Miami, Ohio - and scoring against the Eagles will be quite the task. The offense, who return 79% of their goals last season and bring in 1st round pick Kevin Hayes, can breathe a sigh of relief.

The Eagles take their season opening road trip out west as they travel to Denver for a weekend double header against the Pioneers.