Now that nonconference hockey games have returned to our lives after a one-year hiatus due to Covid-19, the #8 Denver Pioneers will renew their annual tradition of playing two Hockey East teams early in the season. This year, they will travel to the northeast to do battle with the #12 Providence College Friars on Friday before heading north to Chestnut Hill to take on the #10 Boston College Eagles on Saturday. Both games will begin at 5 pm MT and be streamed online (we will tweet the details).
But as the Pioneers get set to play Boston College on the road for the first time since October 2017 when the Pios dominated the Eagles 6-1, it’s time once again to renew our own tradition with our good friends at BC Interruption and put together a Q&A. Just like last time, questions were posed to Editor-In-Chief Laura Berestecki and she offers great insight into this year’s Eagles team, some discussion about Colorado Avalanche defenseman prospect Drew Helleson, and explains just exactly what happened last weekend when BC lost 6-2 to Bentley.
The full Q&A is below and when you’re finished, be sure to head over to BCI and read the questions posed to me by Laura about DU and this weekend’s matchup!
Nick Tremaroli, LetsGoDU: Uh…first off, what happened against Bentley, and is there reason for concern moving forward for BC?
Laura Berestecki, BC Interruption: Ugh that was not an enjoyable game. There were a few things going on, some of which concern me a little and some of which don’t. This is not the first time BC has unexpectedly lost to a Bentley team in a spectacular fashion, and I think part of the reason for last weekend’s loss was that the team probably spent more time focusing on and preparing for Northeastern. But BC is better enough than Bentley on paper that this shouldn’t have resulted in such a stomping, so I do worry about the team’s ability to keep motivation up when they start losing in a game. The Eagles also looked very tired at the start of the game, which also isn’t ideal since they will be playing 2 games a weekend for pretty much the rest of the year?
On the less concerning side, goaltending on both sides really played into this loss. The Eagles actually got a fair number of SOG, and played particularly aggressive offense in the second period, but Bentley’s goalie just wouldn’t let pucks in. On BC’s end, the coaching staff have been swapping off transfer student Eric Dop and sophomore Henry Wilder. Wilder played against Bentley, and it definitely earned Dop the starting goalie position. Wilder made some good saves, but he also let up a number of uncontrolled rebounds that in turn became Bentley goals. So hopefully with Dop in net BC will be less likely to get into such a bad position in games?
We have plenty of Avalanche fans reading the blog, so can we get an update on Drew Helleson? How’s he doing? What’s his outlook this year?
Helleson has looked good! He’s one of those defenders who you don’t always notice if you aren’t watching for him because he’s a solid defensive defenseman who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes or need to do anything too flashy. But he can also score if needed, which is nice. He definitely needs more time to develop though, leave him alone, don’t take him from us!
Obviously, like DU, winning a national title is at the top of the list of expectations for BC, but what are the realistic ones for this year? What would make this a successful season for the Eagles?
I tend to always be the optimistic one at BC Interruption, but I’m definitely a little down after that Bentley game. I think the Eagles have a good chance of at least winning the Beanpot or Hockey East Tournament, but I really need to see some of the other Hockey East teams play more before I feel confident in that. Pre-Bentley, I would have said BC was definitely a contender to get to the Frozen Four. But I’m going to need to see a) how they bounce back after such a rough loss and b) how they compete against a truly top team like Denver.
Other than Helleson, who should fans keep their eyes on? Who are the Eagles’ biggest scoring threats?
Marshall Warren has been the one to watch so far. He’s been doing everything from day 1: playing defense, getting up the ice to create scoring opportunities, taking passes and rebounds to score goals. Captain Marc McLaughlin has also been a strong offensive factor for BC so far. And Jack McBain, who has been struggling to hit the net since last season despite lots of great chances, finally broke his scoreless drought against Bentley, and has also been setting up a lot of goals for his teammates this year.
UMass-Amherst finally ended the NCHC’s run of four straight national titles last year (even if it came with the Covid asterisk). How do you see Hockey East going this year? Seems like it’s been an inconsistent start to the year throughout the conference.
Sorry, I don’t recognize UMass’s title. Last year didn’t happen, I will not attribute success to them. I also don’t have a great answer to this question because I don’t watch other Hockey East teams when they aren’t playing BC unless something wild is happening in a game and I want to laugh at them.
If Boston College is going to get the win on Saturday (not too concerned about Friday against CC), what has to go right for them?
I think the biggest things are a) actually beating Colorado College instead of putting all the focus on Denver, blowing it Friday night, and then coming into Saturday on a low, b) getting the students in the stands – the atmosphere at the home opener was the best we’ve seen in years and I think that definitely helps, and C) scoring early to get the team confidence up early. Also, like, note letting Denver score 8 goals like everyone else has?
What’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?
I want to be optimistic, but Denver is the clear #1 right now, so this is going to be a big challenge for the Eagles. My heart says BC pulls off a win by 1 goal but my brain says Denver wins like 4-2 and not in a huge blowout?