It is always an event when No. 8 Boston College (4-2-1) squares off with archrival No. 17 Boston University (4-4-0).
Friday’s game at Agganis Arena is the first of three meetings between the teams (one being the opening round of the Beanpot) and the only one at BU.
Senior defenseman Garrett Noonan, who has two goals and six assists in eight games, said it will be memorable particularly for those in their final season.
“I’m really excited, I think it will be my last game at Agganis against BC,’’ said Noonan. “I’ve been waiting for this for awhile and it’s always one of the most fun games of the year. You come to BU for games like this and knowing it’s your last year and the last time you’re going to play them at Agganis, you definitely go out and have a good game.’’
BU won three of its first four games but has lost three of the last four. Noonan said they are gradually putting together the pieces.
“I think it’s been a good start to the year,’’ he said. “We’ve won some games that I’m sure surprised some people and we’ve lost some games we should’ve won. We’re excited for this weekend, that’s for sure.’’
One of the biggest positives is how well the team has adapted to new coach David Quinn.
“I think it’s been awesome,’’ said Noonan. “We really love playing for him. He comes to the rink every day and he wants us to get better and that’s contagious in how excited he is. It’s just been awesome.’’
Noonan said it’s helpful that Quinn is a former defenseman and that has translated to the current blue line corps.
“I think it’s huge because just since he’s been here, he’s taught our defense a lot of new things about gaps and getting up in the play and still contributing offensively, but knowing that your main job is to play defense, so that’s been awesome.’’
One of the team’s standouts so far has been sophomore center Danny O’Regan. Last Friday, BU came back from a three-goal deficit to beat Providence, 4-3, at Agganis. O’Regan potted the tying and winning goals.
“Obviously it wasn’t good at that point, when we were down, 3-0,’’ said Noonan. “We knew there was plenty of time left and we just had to regroup. We knew that the game wasn’t over so we had to figure out a way to start getting pucks deep in their end and playing in their zone a little bit and once we did that, we turned the game around.’’
When BU closed to gap to one goal, at 3-2, the Terriers could smell that Providence was vulnerable.
“I think when we made it, 3-2, we thought, ‘This is our game, we’re going to battle back and win this thing,’ ’’ said Noonan. “Then the goal at the end of the period was huge.’’
Noonan said it was fitting that O’Regan made the difference.
“We really need him to be our best forward and he really [did] that against Providence,’’ said Noonan. “He’s an awesome player and an awesome kid and we’re just happy to have him on our side.’’
Out of their league
On Friday night, Merrimack (3-3-0) will become the last of 11 teams to play a Hockey East league game when it hosts No. 6 Providence at Lawler Arena.
The next four games are going to be tough ones. After a home and home series with the Friars, the Warriors travel to No. 4 Notre Dame for a pair next weekend. With only 20 league games versus 27 in the past, Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said it’s a much smaller sample in terms of determining the league champion at the end of the year.
“It is what it is,’’ said Dennehy, whose team has a three-game winning streak. “You’ve got to look at the positive side of it. I personally don’t think that 60 percent of your schedule is enough to determine league supremacy, if you will. I understand the benefit of having more non-conference games but holy smokes, we’re going to differentiating between teams based on microscopic differences when you come down to the end of the season and there are only 20 games of data. It’s a tight league so every piece is important.’’
As much as the Warriors’ fortunes have changed over the last three contests, Dennehy said the team is still a work in progress.
“[Last year], we finished five points out of first place, which was good enough for sixth, which is not good enough,’’ said Dennehy. “We returned a lot of guys but we still need to get better, we need to bridge those five points and that’s what we’re working towards.’’
It will be a special evening on Saturday when No. 12 UMass-Lowell hosts Northeastern at the Tsongas Center. In addition to the Hockey East matchup, the school will honor the local survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing as well as the first responders during “River Hawk Strong’’ night. Athletic director Dana Skinner said one of the reasons that game was chosen was because 20-year-old NU student Shores Salter of Reading helped save the life of Roseann Sdoia, a 1991 UMass-Lowell graduate and Dracut resident who lost her right leg above the knee in the bombing. Salter carried her to first responders and used his belt as a tourniquet to stem the bleeding.
“I think it will be an impactful event,’’ said Skinner. “I think everybody is just trying to figure out how to help.’’
A portion of the ticket sales as well as sales of “River Hawk Strong’’ T-shirts and bracelets will go into two funds — the UMass-Lowell Boston Marathon Scholarship Fund and America’s Fund, selected by the survivors to direct resources and funds to aid injured and critically ill members of the Armed Forces.
One of the things Northeastern (5-3-0) worked on during the week was the power play. Last weekend against BC, the Huskies were 0 for 7 on the man advantage and gave up three unanswered goals on the way to a 4-3 loss.
Coach Jim Madigan wasn’t happy with the looks his units had during the seven power plays, despite the 14 shots on net.
“We’ve got some pretty skilled guys on our power play,’’ said Madigan, whose team heads into Saturday night with 11 power-play goals in 46 attempts. “They put you in difficult situations, the way they kill penalties. They’re very good at it and they’ve been doing it for a long time. What they do is not a secret, but you’ve got to work in small spaces to support pucks and we didn’t build momentum on our power play. Credit Boston College. They push you into uncomfortable situations and we didn’t adjust. We have enough skill and sense to adjust.’’
Extension for Jerry York
Coach Jerry York agreed to a contract extension through the 2019-20 season, athletic director Brad Bates announced.
“Jerry York is the most successful coach in the history of college hockey,” Bates said. “We are extraordinarily fortunate to have a leader and representative of his caliber continue to serve this great institution and his alma mater.”
York is the winningest coach in NCAA hockey history with 939 total victories, including 472 wins since returning to The Heights as head coach in 1994.Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @elle1027.