Denver-Boston College Q&A with BC Interruption

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Since LetsGoDU made its triumphant return over two years ago, Denver and Boston College have played each other at least once each year. That streak will continue tonight as Denver makes the trip from Boston University to Chestnut Hill to take on the Eagles. As such, it has become an annual tradition between BC Interruption and LetsGoDU to each do a pregame Q&A. This has always been a fan-favorite piece and we’re nothing if not a crowd-pleasing blog (it’s ok to laugh).

In the first two editions of the Q&A, former editor Joe Gravellese did the honors for BCI. He always did an excellent job analyzing what BC brought to the table and how the Pioneers matched up with the Eagles (not only that, he very kindly provided me a place to stay after the DU-BU game last night!). This year, because Joe retired from his post, the duty has been bestowed upon Peter Caliguri, another excellent Italian name, and I think you’ll find he’s done an excellent job previewing Saturday’s game from a BC point of view.

The full Q&A is below. All questions posed to BC Interruption are in bold.

By BC’s definition, last year was a tough year. Though the year is young, are there signs that BC has rebounded?

Although the year has just kicked off, I am beginning to see a bright future for our Eagles. Incoming freshmen such as Jacob Tortora and Christopher Grando have shown a lot of promise thus far with their high-intensity play and sheer elusiveness getting to the net. I have no doubt that guys like these, especially Tortora, will make for some high profile players in the near future. However, with that being said, I cannot say that this team has fully rebounded just yet. This is a very uncharacteristic team for Coach York with there not even being a true senior on the team. This absence of seniority has forced the team to rely on a lot of the young guys to step up and show their value to try to get this ship steered in the right direction. It has been a rocky start to the season with us dropping both games to St. Cloud, as well as a blowout loss to Wisconsin, but I am optimistic that these losses are solely growing pains and that BC will develop into a better team by season’s end.

The NCHC is arguably the best conference in college hockey. How did BC’s style of play match up with St. Cloud State and how will it match up against the likes of Denver and the rest of the NCHC?

In the first game of the series, BC came out red hot by scoring the first two goals of the match and shooting just about on par with the #3 team in the country. However, BC gradually let St. Cloud back in the game as the Eagle’s offense slowly began to become non-existent and the defense was just letting the Huskies rip shots on backup goaltender Ryan Edquist. At the end of the game, St. Cloud outshot the Eagles 47-20 proving that there needed to be work done on both sides of the puck for BC. For game two, it was a much more competitive match with BC actually ending up putting more shots on net than the Huskies by a 37-24 margin. We could have squeezed out a win in the game, but foolish penalties early on ended up shooting us in the foot and digging us a hole that we couldn’t climb out of. To beat a dead horse, I think these were some growing pains of a young squad that we simply have to learn from. Foolish penalties and weak defense can be the dagger for these tough NCHC teams. BC has to learn to adjust in these areas by playing a more levelheaded game while also exhibiting some strong defense in order to keep themselves in their matches against NCHC opponents.

If BC is going to pull off the victory, what has to go right for the Eagles?

We have to control the game from both sides of the puck. The season thus far has been too lopsided. We have seen two very different types of BC teams. There is the BC team that come out guns blazing and recording a high shot count, but operating in conjunction with a defense that allows too many shots of their own. Or, we have seen phenomenal performances from goaltender Joseph Woll, but with an offense that is incapable of showing their gratitude by scoring a few goals themselves. In order to win, we need to find a solid equilibrium with a sound offense and stout defense. With high caliber teams like DU, we cannot afford to tip the scale in one direction. If we do, we might as well throw in the towel and start warming up the buses.

What are BC’s weaknesses that DU should try to expose on Saturday?

DU needs to expose BC’s youthfulness. The Eagles have a talented roster, but that talent is stuck in the shadows of pure inexperience and has not fully emerged itself yet. DU has to make sure that talent in the likes of Tortora, Grando, and Hutsko is subdued and to keep them from easy opportunities on the net. If they are able to force these young guys into making rookie mistakes, there could be a lot of opportunities for the Pioneers to capitalize on.

When DU fans think about BC, it’s hard to forget the performance Johnny Gaudreau put forth in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. He was the player to watch back then. Along those lines, who are the BC players DU fans should be watching for on Saturday?

DU should most certainly keep their eyes on defenseman Casey Fitzgerald. With his standout brother Ryan having left the Eagles after his senior year and now playing for the Bruins, Casey has picked up where is sibling left off. In the five games BC has played thus far, Fitzgerald leads the team in goals, assists, and points and has a shot percentage of .154%. For a defenseman, Casey has proven himself to be an all-around player who can both deliver strong shots on net as well as on the boards. DU needs to find a way to take him out of the game, or else he could really be the one to deliver a damaging blow. Additionally, pay attention to freshman Jacob Tortora. Tortora has a little bit of Gaudreau-esque qualities with his short stature, great elusiveness, and high paced style of play. He is going to be a strong asset in the years to come for this BC team.

What’s your prediction for the game on Saturday night?

Between the big football game on Friday night against FSU and this game against the #1 team in the country, the students are in for a real treat (Halloween pun intended). With that being said, I predict that Conte Forum will be popping Saturday night and that will make for a tough atmosphere to play in. However, despite the fact that I believe this will be a hard-fought battle, I think that BC still hasn’t gotten all of its youthful kinks out just yet. Thus, I think that the more experienced and talented Pioneers will edge out a win by a score of 4-2.

If you want to read the other side of the Q&A, click here to head over to BC Interruption and read our answers to their questions. This is always one of our favorite features to do and we’d like to thank BC Interruption for keeping it alive even in Joe’s absence.

Top-ranked Denver and Boston College hit the ice tonight in Chestnut Hill at 5 PM MT. If you have a cable subscription that includes ESPN, you can stream the game on ESPN3. Of course, you can also listen to Jay Stickney’s silky pipes on the radio on ESPN 1600 AM.

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