Thursday, February 2, 2012
#3 BU- #5 Merrihack preview
The 15-8-1 (12-6-1)BU Terriers and 14-5-5(10-4-3)Merrimack Warriors will square off Friday night in a pivotal Hockey East matchup in North Andover at Lawler Arena. The game has already sold out and the tickets are in high demand online some going for as much as triple the face value. The Terriers look to rebound from a sweep at the hands of the Maine Black Bears(and Bunyon) last weekend. The Warriors are coming off a hard fought win over the PC Friars at home on Sunday afternoon. Both teams are in a dog fight for the top spot in Hockey East as the Warriors currently sit 4th but have two games in hand over all competitors. The Terriers are tied for 1st with Boston College and have one game in hand over the Eagles.
This matchup will certainly be a physical one as the Terriers lead the nation in penalty minutes(498) with Merrimack not far behind(443). Merrimack's d-man/headhunter Kyle Bigos leads the conference in individual penalty minutes with 30 penalties for 74 minutes. The teams split the first 2 games at Agganis Arena with Merrimack winning the first 3-2 in OT back in November while BU took a 4-2 win in January right after the inter-semester break.
Both teams have injury concerns entering the game as BU will be without freshman d-man Alexx Privitera for the next 4 weeks and will also most likely be without junior d-man Max NiCastro with a shoulder injury. Merrimack has its own injury problems as forwards Quinn Gold and Elliot Sheen have injury concerns after their physical win over PC.
BU will most likely have to shuffle their lineup to deal with the injuries, most likely double shifting their d-men at various points throughout the game unless the coaches feel comfortable enough to move Ben Rosen or Matt Ronan to defense for a significant portion of a game against a top 5 team. I would be willing to bet 13 forwards will dress once again(unless Cisse is benched) in which case the "bod" Ronan would have to be the next man in line. Should be a great game and atmosphere either way. There is no way this isn't a one goal game or tie with how even these two teams have played in their two previous matchups this year.