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Now for the rubber match.
When Boston College (17-8-1 overall, 11-5 Hockey East) faces off against Boston University (13-10-2, 8-5-2) tonight in the first round of the Beanpot at Boston Garden, the teams will attempt to break their season series tie. In the first game at B.C., the Terriers won, 6-3. The Eagles landed at B.U. and evened the local grudge war with a 3-2 victory.
B.C. blue-liner Greg Brown, a candidate for the Hobey Baker award, leads the Eagles, who currently stand in first place in Hockey East. Brown has been the backbone of the team's defense, consistently checking the opponents' top threats, while also adding 5 goals and 25 assists.
"[Brown] is good a defenseman as everyone thinks he is," B.U. forward Joe Sacco said. "But besides Brown, their defense is okay."
Even Without Vanzetti
Brown's toughest assignment of the night may come from Sacco, who leads the Terriers with 14 goals and 16 assists. Shawn McEachern (16 goals, 13 assists--29 points) and Mike Sullivan (10-15-25) also provide firepower for the Terriers.
"We need to use our speed to score some goals," said Sacco, whose team currently trails only the Eagles and Maine in Hockey East.
To stop these offensive weapons, B.C. also will rely on goalie Sandy Galuppo, who has stopped 88 percent of the shots he has faced for a goals-against average of 3.75.
Offensively, the Eagles boast a high powered first line of wings Steve "57" Heinze (23-24--47) and Marty McInnis (13-19--32) centered by David Emma (23-27--50).
"Our first line has been coming through for us," said Brown.
"A lot of our defensemen are offensive players," Brown said. "Part of our game is to get into the flow like pros like Phil Housely do. The coaches encourage us to fill the open lanes."
Scott Cashman anchors the Terrier defense against the Eagle attack. Cashman has saved 90 percent of the shots he has faced for a goals-against average of 3.00.
In previous Beanpot encounters, B.U. has won 14 of 22 contests against the Eagles. The Terriers last won the extravaganza in 1987, when they defended their 1986 wreath.
But that's all ancient history.
"There is no clear favorite," Brown said. "All four teams are playing well, especially of late. The favorite doesn't usually win anyway."
While Harvard enters the field as the defending Beanpot (and national) champs, B.C. has emerged as the favorite--but it has not emerged with the crown since 1983.
"B.C. is the favorite," Sacco said. "But when there are four teams, the records don't really matter. Anyone can win."
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