No. 4 Boston College vs University of Connecticut: What You Need to Know

The Huskies open their conference schedule this weekend against Whale prospect Andie Anastos and the Eagles

Since 2007-08, the Boston College Eagles are 22-3-4 against the UConn Huskies.

In that span, Boston College is 11-0 against UConn at home.

BC has not lost this matchup in two years.

But those were different times, and this year’s Boston College team has already shown some cracks in its armor. Squaring off against the Maine Black Bears two weeks ago, they had their 52-game Hockey East winning streak broken. This past weekend they played to their first 0-0 final since Feb. 19, 2011, against UNH. This also marked the first time they were shut out since Feb. 8, 2014.

Elaine Chuli of UConn was the goalie on that night.

On the flip side, this UConn team is off to their best start in recent memory, going 4-2-1 through the first seven games. This first weekend of Hockey East play could set the tone for the rest of their season.

Look out for these difference makers this weekend:

Pay Special Attention to Special Teams

Boston College has the top power play in Hockey East, converting on 12 of 38 chances so far for a 31.6% total. They will have to square off against an impenetrable Connecticut penalty kill, which has only allowed two power play goals on 38 opportunities (that’s a 94.4% penalty kill rate).

A big part of UConn’s success this season has been the emergence of goaltender Annie Belanger. She started 11 games last season, posting a .906 save percentage, and this season has already recorded her first career shutout, an overtime 0-0 draw against Penn State. Her .956 save percentage is good for fourth-best in the country, and second best for goaltenders with more than 100 saves.

BC’s freshman phenom Caitrin Lonergan has been all over special teams so far this season and recorded two assists on power play goals and one shorthanded goal last week.

Hooking and Tripping and Slashing, Oh my!

WHEA has really cracked down on stick penalties this season, calling hooking penalties significantly more than last season. It seems BC has been caught in the crossfire of this change.

Boston College’s 108 penalty minutes rank third in the nation. Coincidentally, both teams above BC are Hockey East teams (Providence and BU). BC is averaging 13.5 penalty minutes per game. This is just under double the 7.3 PIM/game they averaged last season. Toni Ann Miano and Megan Keller both have six minors, for 12 total penalty minutes this season, but with Keller gone for the Four Nations Cup tournament representing Team USA, that could open up ice time for players with a bit more stick discipline.

UConn is averaging 10.3 PIM/game, which is eighth in the conference. With their stellar penalty kill, BC will be hard pressed to find as many chances as they will be giving to the Huskies this weekend.

Take the Under — No, Seriously

Partially because of the top-tier goaltending (did I mention BC’s Katie Burt recently recorded her 24th career shutout?), mixed with the penalty kill rates and both teams minding their defensive zone play, this could be a very-low scoring weekend.

Through seven games, UConn has allowed 11 goals, third-fewest among teams that have played more than two games. However, they have only scored 15 goals through those seven games and have been relying on their defense to carry them through games.

This matches up against a Boston College defense that has allowed 15 goals through eight games. However, in their last six games BC has only allowed 1.15 goals per game as Burt and the defense have hit their stride.

Barbito’s Brutal Truth

Hockey East saw very little parity last year, and any in-conference matchup involving the Eagles in 2015-16 could safely be called a BC sweep a week before puck drop. This is a different conference without Haley Skarupa and Alex Carpenter, though. UConn is on the up as a program and could make a statement with a strong weekend against Boston College.

The series will take place at Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs, Connecticut, on Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m., and at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 2:00 p.m.