Hockey Notebook

Coming off a stunning sweep of New Hampshire in the first round of the Hockey east tournament, Boston College looks to keep their NCAA hopes alive in the second round. BC takes on Boston University in round two of the Hockey East tournament tonight at the Garden.

• "It doesn't matter if you're playing the team from Timbuktu, or BU right down the street. If you can't get motivated for this game, you shouldn't be playing," said junior forward Matt Price, when asked if playing Boston University added more fuel to the fire in the run-up to Friday night's Hockey East semifinal.

While he's certainly right – and while the Eagles will need to beat whoever they play in the next two games in order to lock down an NCAA tournament berth – it's hard to believe that players and fans alike won't be feeling extra anticipation. Every BC-BU game has a chance to shift the local college hockey landscape – as BU's 5-2 win over BC on January 19 at Agganis Arena did, sending a clear message to the hockey world that BU was the dominant team in the East this season.

This one has the extra storyline of BC's season on the line. While BU has already clinched one of the four #1 seeds in the NCAA tournament regardless of what happens this weekend, they have two important motivations: earn the overall #1 seed, and end BC's season. The last time BU entered the postseason as Beanpot champions and #1 in the country, the Eagles derailed their run with a memorable 5-0 win over the Terriers in Worcester.

Friday night's semifinal games feature Northeastern vs. UMass-Lowell at 5 PM, followed by BC-BU at approximately 8 PM.

• BC and BU took much different roads to the Garden. While the Eagles had a rough regular season that relegated them to a road trip to UNH last weekend, they steamrolled the Wildcats in two games to make it to the semifinals.

BU earned the #1 seed in the regular season, but struggled mightily against Maine, winning game 1 in the last minute and losing game 2 before roaring back with a convincing 6-2 win in game 3.

"I think we are fortunate that we are playing BC because I think BC and BU usually bring out the best in each other," said BU head coach Jack Parker in the Hockey East coaches' conference call. "I think BC is a team going in the right direction, and we have to see if can get back going in the right direction.

"We're very, very fortunate to still be in this tournament," continued Parker. "Saturday night's win (by Maine) could have easily been us going home instead of getting ready to play a third game because they played so well on Friday night as well. We kind of squeaked out a win, and they dominated us on Saturday. We didn't play anywhere near the way we should. I was very disappointed."

Parker said his team is aware of the challenge they will face by taking on a hot BC team in March.

"This time of the year has been their time of year for a decade," he said. "It's up to us to make sure we're at the top of our game, or we're going to be watching them play Saturday night… they are the defending league and national champion. If you don't beat them, they are not going to beat themselves."

• While Parker was displeased with his team's effort against Maine, BC coach Jerry York was glowing after his team's road upset over New Hampshire.

"I thought it was very significant for us to go through New Hampshire to get to the Garden," York said. "I think UNH is going to make a lot noise in the national tournament next week. They're that good a club… It's always exciting to go to the Garden. We never take it for granted."

"It's exciting for us to be in the role of the underdog," said Price. "We talked about how going to be in our maroon jerseys the rest of the way, so we better get comfortable in them from here on out."

• One of the keys to BC's success at UNH was the penalty kill, which killed off all 10 of UNH's power play chances. The Eagles have now killed 31 of their last 32 shorthanded situations.

"We just try to bring a similar attitude each time on the penalty kill, no matter who we're against," said Price. "We try to pressure them, and use our attributes, use our speed. We're a talented team and we have the ability to keep it steady and do what we have to do to kill penalties."

"Our goaltender has played very well for us recently," added York. "We've rotated through six forwards [on the PK]. Matt Price and Cam Atkinson have really stood out in the penalty killing for us. But, you need some bounces and we've certainly got them for us on the PK."

"We're certainly going to get challenged. I haven't seen many better power plays over the years than what BU can put out this year. They're really very productive in that part of the game."

Special teams appear to be a major edge for the Terriers.

BU's power play is 52-for-229 on the year (22.7%) – easily best in the conference. With their recent surge, the Eagles' penalty killers are up to 4th in Hockey East at 160-for-186 (86.0%). BU leads Hockey East with an overall +26 net on special teams. BC is 5th at +3, hampered by a staggering 11 shorthanded goals allowed.

Still, the Eagles are trending upward on special teams and in their overall game – and according to Parker, BU struggled with special teams against Maine.

"If anyone was in the building for any of the games, you would believe that Maine had the best power play in the nation and the best penalty kill in the league, and you would have believed that BU was 34th in those numbers," he said. "They completely dominated us in both of those areas of special teams. When you get dominated in special teams and you still sneak out, you're really fortunate."

• York cites improved team defense and cohesiveness as the reason for their surge over the past few weekends.

"Our play has been much better overall. We've had a much stingier defense and we're scoring some timely goals. We're not reinventing the wheel. We've been trying to get better all year long. Late in the season, we've really come together as a cohesive unit. We're certainly not going to have a lot of all-stars when it comes to our [league] banquet on Thursday, but our team is really becoming a more cohesive team and I think that's one of the keys as you get into the playoffs."

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