BC, BU to see if they’re in championship form
It’s that time of year again.
But when the puck drops at Agganis Arena tonight, it won’t just be the start of the annual weekend home-and-home series between No. 2 Boston University (7-1-5) and No. 8 Boston College (9-5-0). It will also be a matchup of the squads that brought home the last three NCAA championships.
“It’s always an exciting weekend that we look forward to over the summer,’’ said BC captain Joe Whitney. “It’s always been some pretty heated battles, and I’m sure it will be the same this weekend.’’
Whitney said he has many fond memories during his college career, but a couple of instances stand out.
“There are two games I remember [most],’’ said the senior forward. “We beat BU in the Beanpot in overtime [in the first round Feb. 4, 2008] when Nathan Gerbe scored. That’s the one I remember on the positive side.
“On the negative side, we lost two years ago in the Hockey East [semifinals March 20, 2009]. They scored three in about 50 seconds, so there are always ups and downs. We’re looking forward to this.’’
Although nothing is decided in early December, this weekend will serve as a gauge for both teams.
“We’re obviously going to get their best and we’re going to give them our best, so it’s going to be a good measuring stick to see where we’re at,’’ said Whitney. “We always bring out the best in each other, so it will be a fun series for us.’’
BC raced out of the gate, winning four of its first five games, but since then, the Eagles have gone 5-4.
“We’ve just been a little inconsistent,’’ said Whitney. “We had a few sweeps earlier in the year and then we had some splits. We can’t seem to find a groove yet, but we’re working hard every day and we’re just trying to get better. It’s all mentality and your attitude. That starts with myself and Brian Gibbons and Tommy Cross as the leaders of the team. We just have to have a good attitude and we have to have the mentality of the team to forget about last season. That’s over and done with and we wanted to look forward to this season. We’ve done a pretty good job so far, we’re just trying to keep working and get better every day.’’
Like Whitney, who is a Reading native, BU junior David Warsofsky — who hails from Marshfield — learned early in his life about the BU-BC experience.
“It’s been unbelievable,’’ said Warsofsky. “Growing up, I was always watching the rivalry between the two schools, but to actually be a part of it these last couple of years has definitely been special. To be a player rather than a spectator, you get a whole different view of what the rivalry is.’’
BC is trying to avoid a subpar season that often follows winning the title. The Eagles went through it after the 2008 win and BU went through it after winning in 2009. Warsofsky said he’s pleasantly surprised at how fast the young Terriers have come together.
“Our whole focus is on this year,’’ said Warsofsky. “I’m sure for BC, they’re obviously a good team and they want to [stay] on a winning track. They’re having ups and downs in their season just like every team does. Whenever BU and BC come [together], you’re going to see both teams’ best game.
“Coming into the season, we saw that we had a lot of skill, especially with the young guys. It was just a matter of getting everyone to buy into our system and buy into what the coaches were telling us. I think we have a good group of guys when it comes to that. We have guys who are willing to listen and willing to get better and work hard. When you have that and you add talent to that, it brings you a long way.’’
Wesleyan sophomore forward John Guay, who is from North Scituate, R.I., was injured last Sunday during a 1-1 game against Wentworth when he was struck from behind by freshman Cameron Gibson.
Wesleyan coach Chris Potter said Guay, who was knocked unconscious, was released from the hospital.
“He’s doing fine,’’ said Potter. “He left the hospital with some minor facial lacerations. When we came back here, our doctors have been monitoring him. They’re keeping an eye on him because he was unconscious.’’
Gibson was assessed a game disqualification, which meant an ejection as well as a one-game suspension. Potter said they’re not looking for Gibson to be punished further.
“I don’t think so,’’ said the coach. “I wasn’t particularly looking for [a longer suspension]. That’s the referees and the league. I haven’t personally looked for anything more than that.’’
Potter said he expects Guay, the son of former pro hockey player and US Olympian Paul Guay, to make a full recovery.
“He’s going to be fine,’’ said Potter.
Best seats in the house Tickets to the Hockey East tournament go on sale tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the TD Garden box office. Tickets can also be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. The semifinals will be played March 18 at 5 and 8 p.m. Ticket prices, which cover both games, are $17 and $25 in the balcony, $30 and $37 in the loge, and $39 for the club seats and the first row of the loge. The title game will be played March 19 at 7 p.m. Prices are $17 and $25 for the balcony and $30, $37, and $39 in the club and loge sections. Student tickets are $10 with a valid ID.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.