2016 NCAA Tournament: Providence begins title defense, BC and Harvard renew acquaintances in Northeast Regional

By DJ Powers

Thatcher Demko - Boston College

Photo: Boston College goaltender and Vancouver Canucks prospect Thatcher Demko turned in his strongest season in 2015-16, helping him earn a share of the Hockey East Player of the Year award (courtesy of Richard T. Gagnon/Getty Images)

 

#3 Harvard University vs. #2 Boston College
TV: ESPNU at 8:00 PM EDT

 

Boston College and Harvard have met numerous times over the years with the most recent meeting coming back on Feb. 1st in the Beanpot Tournament semi-finals. Interestingly, this year marks the first-ever NCAA Tournament meeting between the two storied programs.

Boston College will be making their seventh consecutive and 35th overall NCAA Tournament appearance. The Eagles are coming off of a loss to Northeastern in the Hockey East Tournament semi-finals. Despite their recent postseason struggles, Boston College has played exceedingly well this season.

A big reason behind the Eagles success has been the brilliant play of junior goaltender Thatcher Demko (VAN). The San Diego, CA native currently sports a 25-7-4 record that includes an NCAA-leading 10 shutouts in 36 games. Demko’s stellar play earned him Hockey East’s Co-Player of the Year honor (shared with UMass Lowell goaltender Kevin Boyle). He is also one of two goaltenders that have been named a finalist for both the Hobey Baker and Mike Richter Awards.

At defense, juniors Ian McCoshen (FLA) and Steve Santini (NJD) anchor one of the nation’s best skating defensive corps. McCoshen, an All-Hockey East Second Team selection, has posted 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 37 games. He leads all Eagles with a +29 rating. McCoshen also leads all NCAA Tournament players with 84 penalty minutes.

Santini, one of the most improved NHL-drafted defensemen this season, has played in all 38 games, posting 19 points (one goal, 18 assists). His outstanding campaign was recently recognized as he was named Hockey East Defensive Defenseman of the Year.

One area that could prove to be problematic for Harvard is Boston College’s speed and sheer depth up front. Among the Eagles’ weapons is freshman Colin White (OTT). The Hockey East Rookie of the Year currently leads Boston College in freshman scoring with 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 34 games.

Harvard will be making their second consecutive and 23rd overall NCAA Tournament appearance. The Crimson is coming off a 4-1 loss to Quinnipiac in the ECAC Tournament championship game. In February, Harvard captured a share of the Ivy League title.

Like Boston College, the Crimson have great depth up front led by senior captain and Hobey Baker finalist Jimmy Vesey (NSH). The North Reading, MA native is the motor that drives the Harvard offense. The ECAC and Ivy League Player of the Year currently leads the team with 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) in 32 games.

The Crimson recently got some good news with the return of junior Tyler Moy (NSH) and sophomore defenseman Wiley Sherman (BOS). Both had missed time due to injuries. Although Moy has played a good chunk of the season on wing, he has played most of his best hockey at center. Furthermore, he has developed into one of Harvard’s faceoff specialists, winning nearly 54 percent of his draws. Moy has played in 30 games this season and is tied for sixth on the team with 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists).

Sherman’s return to the lineup gives the Crimson blueline a boost not only in size (6’7”, 220 lbs.) but also in experience heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Greenwich, CT native has played in 31 games to date, posting 10 points (six goals, 10 assists).

After seeing less than 44 total minutes of action last season, sophomore goaltender Merrick Madsen (PHI) has taken over the starting job this season and has simply run with it. The Acton, CA native currently sports an 18-6-3 record that includes four shutouts. His 1.96 goals-against average and .933 save percentage both rank in the top 15 nationally.

Northeast | East | Midwest | West

Follow DJ Powers on Twitter via @DJPowersHF

 

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