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The Only Questions on Ice: BC Interruption

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Joe Gravellese from BC Interruption stops by to preview the upcoming hockey game between MSU and #2 Boston College

Thatcher Demko has 3 straight shutouts heading into this weekend's contest
Thatcher Demko has 3 straight shutouts heading into this weekend's contest
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night the Michigan State Spartans hockey team will travel to Chestnut Hill, Mass. to take on the second ranked Boston College Eagles. The Eagles are currently 8-1 on the season, having not lost since October 11 and they have six shutouts in their past seven games. The Eagles are led by junior goaltender Thather Demko and boast a balanced roster that has offensive contributors up and down the lineup.

Joe Gravellese from the great SB Nation Boston College blog BC Interruption was nice enough to answer some questions from yours truly previewing the upcoming series. Joe also co-hosts the amazing and unique Eastern Bias podcast with Shep Hayes (from Blogging on Babcock-A Boston University blog) covering all things Hockey East. Be sure to check out BC Interruption, as I will be answering some questions that Joe had for me that will be up over there soon, and download the Eastern Bias podcast on iTunes.

  1. Thatcher Demko was expected to be one of the best goaltenders in the country but I don't think anyone expected 6 shutouts in 9 games. Has he done it by himself or has he been helped by a commitment to shot blocking?

It hasn't been so much shot blocking as good team defense as a whole. The Eagles have been pretty good at limiting opponents' chances, either by just having the puck a lot themselves or by playing solidly in their own end. When opponents do get opportunities, though, Demko is there to deny them. He's been truly phenomenal this season coming off surgery on both hips that has him looking fully healthy for the first time in his BC career.

2.  The Spartans and Eagles have two common opponents, Denver and Maine, with the Eagles fairing pretty well at 3-0 against those opponents. What has been the key to the Eagles' early season success?

Balanced scoring, and Thatcher Demko. BC has 3 and sometimes 4 lines contributing on a given night. It's a huge departure from last season when BC was really quite reliant on their first line and had trouble scoring if they weren't on the ice. A big group of talented freshmen have infused the team with talent,and juniors Ryan Fitzgerald and Austin Cangelosi have taken huge leaps from last season so far. Of course, Demko has been the glue of the entire operation.

3. This team has seemingly not skipped a beat since Jeremy Bracco left the team for the OHL. Is that something that actually brought the team together as one instead of causing a rift?

This seemed to be a pretty tight and fiery team anyway even before Bracco left but that definitely appears to have brought the team together. Particularly in the Friday night game against Denver right after his departure, you could see how much it meant to the players to nab the narrow 4-3 win - they flew off the bench after the game as though it were a playoff victory. BC has great leadership that starts with an excellent captain in Teddy Doherty. They are playing some great "team" hockey right now.


Obviously, you never want to lose a player of Bracco's caliber, but BC has enough weapons that they should be OK without him. And if someone doesn't want to be here, it would presumably have a detrimental effect on the locker room.
4. Seriously, will MSU have a chance at scoring a goal on Thatcher Demko? How does one beat an impenetrable force?

By being really good? The only time Demko's given up more than two goals this year was when BC gave up 3 to Denver, thanks in large part to the straight up nastiness of Denver's Danton Heinen, who had a beastly game for the Pioneers.

There really seems to be no "key" to beating Demko this year so far. He's so positionally sound.

5. BC has 5 players with at least 4 goals. Was this balance expected and who in particular should Spartans fans be worried about this weekend?

This balanced was *hoped for* but not necessarily expected. There was the presumption that freshmen like Miles Wood and Colin White would make an immediate impact. They have. There was the hope that Ryan Fitzgerald, Austin Cangelosi, Chris Calnan and Adam Gilmour would move in to their junior seasons and take a step up. Check, so far. BC still needs to get in to the teeth of their schedule but to this point, the development of the offense has been on par with what we would have hoped for in an optimistic scenario.

As for a key player to watch, freshman Miles Wood really appears to be the whole package for the Eagles. His game is a bit reminiscent of Chris Kreider or Kevin Hayes. He's big, lightning fast, nasty, and has the skill to take over a game. He might already be BC's best forward. He probably is.

6. Who has a better defense this season BC football or BC hockey? And would the BC hockey team be able to score more touchdowns in ACC play than the current football roster?

Ha. Well, seeing as BC football only has like 3 or 4 touchdowns in ACC play all year (I think I have that right), it's hard to imagine them doing much worse. Plus if they get to use skates it would probably be easier to kick the ball, which has been a struggle for the football team.

Technically, I think BC's defense in football is down to #3 in the country now, while the hockey defense is #1, so we'll give the hockey team the edge.

7. Care to give us a score prediction for this weekend's game?

Michigan State is coming in hot after wiping out UNH last weekend, but I'm feeling good vibes about the Eagles right now and don't think they will drop one at home this week. Give me Boston College 4, Michigan State 1, with Demko's shutout streak ending some time in the second period.