The song reminds us, “So, this is Christmas” and what has been done for the hockey fan at your house is the return of the Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center this weekend.
This year the Boston College Eagles and the Bowling Green State University Falcons will join the Penn State Nittany Lions and the host Robert Morris University Colonials for the NCAA Division I men’s college hockey tournament.
Coming up on Friday, Boston College will take on Bowling Green at 4:30 p.m. while Penn State will meet RMU in the second half of the doubleheader at 7:30 p.m. The consolation and championship games will be held on Saturday at 4:30 and 7:30, respectively.
Friday’s opening round matchup marks the seventh time that Eagles coach Jerry York has met his former school since returning to his alma mater in 1994. It is also the 15th meeting between Boston College and Bowling Green overall, with the Eagles holding the 11-3 advantage.
These two clubs first dropped the puck against each other on March 24, 1978, in the semifinal round of the NCAA Tournament, where the Eagles grounded the Falcons. Boston College also defeated a York-coached BGSU squad in two opening-round games in the 1989 NCAA Tournament.
Our friend Matt Gajtka explored the common theme linking Penn State and Bowling Green programs earlier this week. Now, let’s take a look at the Boston College Eagles.
Eagles Talons: Boston College is coming into the tournament ranked sixth in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, while coming in seventh in USCHO.com’s poll.
With an overall record of 10-4-2, and a Hockey East Conference record of 6-1-1 this season, the Eagles are tied for first place with the Providence College Friars.
In scoring, the Maroon and Gold are first in Hockey East with 67 goals scored while they have allowed only 39 to be scored against them. Their offense has been solid across all three periods as they have 23 goals in the first, 22 in the second, 21 in the third, and one goal in overtime.
While a bit weak on the power play, scoring only 8 of 53, with a success rate of 15.1 percent, the Eagles are 71 of 79 on the penalty kill for an 89.9 percentage rate, which is good for second overall in the conference.
Coach York is 456-226-62 in 18 seasons at Boston College. In his 40-year career, he is 923-561-96 overall. He recently passed fellow college hockey coaching legend Ron Mason for the most wins ever in any division.
York is also one of just three coaches in NCAA history to lead two different schools to national titles as he led the Bowling Green Falcons to the 1984 NCAA title, and while at Boston College he’s helmed the Eagles to championships in 2001, 2008, 2010 and 2012.
Since he took the coaching reins in 1994, the Eagles have participated in 16 mid-season holiday tournaments, with the last win taking place in 2011 against Dartmouth at the Ledyard Bank Classic in Hanover, N.H. Boston College has won six holiday tournaments in all, and has been the runner-up on three occasions while finishing third three times, and fourth just twice.
Players To Watch: Junior forward Johnny Gaudreau leads the team in goals with 13 and in points with 28. Last year’s Hobey Baker Award finalist is the second-leading scorer in the country, averaging 1.75 points per game
Senior forward Kevin Hayes is second for the Maroon and Gold with 10 goals and 24 points while fellow senior Bill Arnold leads the team in assists with 16. Gaudreau and Hayes are tied at three apiece for the lead on power play goals.
Freshman defenseman Ian McCoshen leads the blue line crew with three goals, six assists for nine points in 16 games for the Eagles.
Between the pipes, it is junior goaltender Brian Billett getting it done with a record of 6-3-1, a 2.58 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. Freshman Thatcher Demko has been the main backup with a record of 4-1-1, a 2.31 GAA and a .911 SV%.