Boston College had the first-round weekend off — a benefit of finishing first in the league and earning one of the five first-round byes. But the Eagles will still enter this weekend’s Hockey East Quarterfinal series with Merrimack College banged up, according to head coach Jerry York.
Defenseman Luke McInnis will miss the series and the rest of the season with a broken kneecap. McInnis blocked a shot against Harvard in the Beanpot on Feb. 12; York said he hopes the injury will heal in time for McInnis to be ready for the start of next season in October.
“Luke had major surgery on his knee,” York said. “He blocked a shot from the point, and it hit him right in the shin pad, cracking his kneecap. That type of play happens hundreds of times over the year, but this just hit him in the right spot.
“We’re banged up, like all teams. You don’t go through the season without injuries. There will be some game-time decisions for some of our players.”
York said earlier this week that he doesn’t believe there is a big divide between the top teams and the teams left in the Hockey East Tournament.
“This is the hardest I’ve seen as far as the home teams going to the Garden,” he said. “There’s no real dominant team in the league this year. Merrimack is coming off an incredible sweep up in Lowell, and that’s very difficult to do, as we all know. We have our hands full.”
BC goaltender Joe Woll struggled at the beginning of the season. When he left the Eagles for the World Junior Championships in late-December, Woll was sporting a 2.90 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage. However, since returning from the tournament, Woll has been stellar, posting a 2.07 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in his last 12 starts; the Eagles are 8-4-0 over that stretch.
“Joe Woll has played very well over the course of the season, but the last month he’s been our best player,” York said. “That bodes well for us in the playoffs.”
York also praised defenseman Casey Fitzgerald, a North Reading native who has 19 points (6 goals, 13 assists) for BC from the blue line.
“Casey Fitz has had a remarkable year,” York said. “He’s one of the top players in the country and a captain for us. He’s been the glue for us and we expect that to continue.”
BC’s offense has been down in comparison to some previous years. The Eagles are scoring below three goals per game and just as Hockey East doesn’t have one dominant team, the Eagles don’t have one dominant scorer.
“We’re scoring by committee,” York said. “I think that has been healthy for us. We’re getting goals from different lines.
“It’s certainly been an up-and-down year for us. But smooth is never good at this level. You learn from the bumps.”
Despite the bumps, the Eagles are still the regular-season Hockey East champions.