Hockey Aims For Regular Season Title
Series Vs. Vermont Standing In The Way
Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
The No. 1 Boston College men's hockey team (23-10-1, 17-7-1 Hockey East) will end the regular season with a two-game home set against Hockey East opponent Vermont (6-25-1, 3-21-1). The Eagles head into the weekend with a two-point lead over rival Boston University in the regular season standings.
Head coach Jerry York says that this is the time of year he prepares his team the most, and he understands the importance of maintaining momentum in this final stretch.
"We point toward trophies, and that's our whole psyche," he said. "We measure ourselves by how many trophies we can win, and this is a trophy weekend."
While Vermont is currently in last place in the Hockey East, York and his team are trying to avoid letting up, due in large part to how tight the standings are heading into the playoffs.
"We have to understand the fact that BU could very easily get four points this weekend," he said. "They own the tiebreaker against us, so it's imperative that we get four points. Technically we need three points to win it, but we need to play very well. We're not talking about anything more than just one game at a time, or even one period at a time, but one shift at a time. We're staying focused through the week of preparation."
This idea of taking the game shift by shift has been one of BC's strengths throughout the latter half of the season. The team currently has a nine-game win streak, which has included games against top-tier conference foes BU and Merrimack. Despite this success, York says that this philosophy of concentrating on the smaller details is still a work in progress.
"I think that we're trying to adopt that," he said. "We're close to achieving our goal. We haven't achieved it yet. We understand that, and we're going to have to play good Eagle hockey over the weekend. We really want to hoist that trophy, because it's still such a tight race."
In the first matchup between these two teams, the Eagles ran away with a 6-1 victory. The team was led by freshman Johnny Gaudreau and junior Chris Kreider, who each scored two goals. Despite this dominant win, York still sees the Catamounts as a threat down the stretch.
"Vermont's coming down with nothing to lose," he said. "They're looking to be a spoiler. That's a dangerous opponent to have."
York went on to say that his team's main focus must continue to be playing solid defense, forcing turnovers and limiting opportunities for the opponent.
"We have to be really sound defensively. One of our mantras is that our offense will come from good defense. We have to be thinking, with Parker in goal, about being tight on our own end."
There are a couple of question marks for the Eagles. Freshman Michael Sit and junior Brian Dumoulin were kept out of some practices this week due to injuries. York said that the team is just taking it "day by day." At this point, he continued, both players are listed as probable for the series.
Regardless, the team will rely on its strong senior class, which has helped the younger players learn on the fly this season. In last Saturday's rout of Providence, senior Barry Almeida had a career day with four points on one goal and three assists. Fellow seniors Tommy Cross and Edwin Shea each added two assists on the day. After defeating Providence the night before, 3-0, the Eagles had two consecutive shutouts for the first time since the 2006 season.
The biggest thing heading into the weekend is to continue building momentum as the team looks for the Hockey East regular season title, and the top seed in the conference playoffs. At this point, these spots are in the Eagles' hands, and they cannot let down their guard, despite Vermont's lackluster season.
"I think it's so important to play well late in the year, because that's when all of the objectives that you talk about in September are attainable if you do well," York said. "We're in a really good position."