February 28, 2014

ECAC East Semifinal Preview: #3 Men's Hockey at #2 Babson College

BOSTON, Mass.—For the second consecutive March 1, #3 UMass Boston (17-5-4) and #2 Babson College (20-4-2) are set to square off in the ECAC East Semifinals.

GAME INFORMATION:

Saturday March 1-7 p.m.

Babson Skating Center-Wellesley, Mass.

Live Stats Link / Webcast Link

ALL-TIME SERIES: Babson leads the all-time series 34-32-6 against the Beacons in a rivalry that dates back to 1982. A year after splitting three meetings (1-1-1), the #7/8 Beavers swept the season-series against the #13/15 Beacons in late January with victories of 2-0 and 3-2.

SEASON-SERIES: ECAC East Player and Goalie of the Year Jamie Murray stopped 56 of 58 shots in a pair of contests against the Beacons to help Babson earn a season-sweep.

The Beavers earned a 2-0 victory over UMass Boston on Friday January 24 behind a 30-save shutout from Murray and a two-point night from Mike Driscoll. Murray stopped seven or more shots in every period, including 15 in the second stanza, to hand UMass Boston their first shutout in 66 games, dating back to November 18, 2011. Driscoll did all the damage on offense, scoring the eventual game-winning goal and adding an assist on Troy Starrett's third-period tally. UMass Boston goaltender Zach Andrews (Coral Springs, Fla.) stopped 45 of 47 shots for the Beacons. 

Babson picked up the sweep the following day with a 3-2 victory at the Babson Skating Center. The Beavers opened the contest with two goals in the opening 9:19 (Michael Phillips and Driscoll), only to have the Beacons tie the game early in the second. Peter MacIntyre (Norfolk, Mass.) and Nathan Milam (Westland, Mich.) each scored power-play goals for UMass Boston, while Stephen Bucco added two assists to knot the game at 2-2 5:28 into the second.

Former Wesleyan University transfer Nik Tasiopolous gave Babson the lead back at 11:21 of the second and that would be more than enough for Murray, who stopped all 16 shots he faced in the third. Billy Faust (Alta Loma, Calif.) posted 33 saves on 36 shots for the Beacons, while the two teams combined for 46 penalty minutes.

SCOUTING THE BEAVERS: The defending ECAC East Tournament Champions stand as one of the top defensive teams in the nation for a second consecutive season, thanks to strong goaltending a veteran defense corps.

Murray has made huge strides as a sophomore, after being named to the ECAC East Rookie Team a year ago. The Scituate native has done a great job taking over for senior Zeke Testa. Testa wasthe ECAC East Goalie of the Year last season and is now an assistant coach with the Beavers. Murray has started 25 of 26 games this winter and ranks fourth in the nation in goals against average (1.44 GAA), leads the nation in save percentage (.949) and tied for fifth in the country with four shutouts.

Offensively, Driscoll leads the squad with 12 goals and 25 points. The First Team All-Conference selection has two goals and an assist this year against the Beacons and four career goals in seven games. Phillips earned a spot on the ECAC East All-Rookie Team after leading the squad with 16 assists and ranking second with his 22 total points and four power-play goals. Tasiopolous and Andrew Bonazza rank tied for second on the roster with 10 goals each, with Tasiopolous pacing the squad with six power-play goals and Bonazza leading the team with four power-play goals.

As a team, Babson ranks third in the nation with their 1.54 goals against average and they rank second with their combined special teams mark of 57.9 percent. Babson leads the ECAC East with a 29.5 percent mark on the power-play and a 90.4 percent mark on the penalty-kill. The Beavers' penalty-kill has been especially strong over their past seven contest, as Babson has killed off 20 power-plays in a row, dating back to the last time they faced UMass Boston.

SCOUTING THE BEACONS: UMass Boston is looking to avenge last season's season-ending loss to the Beavers, after the Beacons squandered a late 3-1 lead, and eventually fell 4-3 in overtime.

After a disappointing final weekend of the season, the Beacons dominated the sixth-seeded University of New England with a 7-2 victory over the Nor'Easters. Six different players scored in the victory, as head coach Peter Belisle earned his 100th career win.

For the second-straight season the Beacons' calling card has been their high-flying offense, with the Beacons coming into Saturday's contest with the fourth-best goals per game average at 4.31 goals per game.

MacIntyre, the Beacons' lone First Team All ECAC East selection, leads the Beacons with his 17 goals and 39 points and is tied with Jeremy Finger (Orlando, Fla.) and Tyler Bishop (Ramsey, N.J.) for the team-lead with three game-winning goals. Senior captain Travis Daniel (North Brunswick, N.J.) has eclipsed the 30-point mark for the second-straight season-with a team-best 25 assists and 36 total points. Daniel and Milam (12 goals and 18 assists) are tied for first on the roster with seven power-play goals apiece, after both players scored power-play goals in last weekend's win.

Andrews and Faust have split time in net over the second-half of the season, with the two players combining for a 2.35 goals against average-good for 17th in the nation. The Beacons' power-play sits sixth in the nation at 28 percent, while their penalty-kill is 25th at 84.3 percent. UMass Boston's power-play has been especially hot since the start of February, with the Beacons converting on 10-of-25 opportunities (40 percent) and scoring at least one power-play goal in five of six games. 

STAT TO WATCH: Saturday night' first goal could go a long way towards determining which side comes out on top. UMass Boston is 15-2-2 this season when scoring the first goal, while Babson is 14-1-1 when they come up with the first tally. In contrast, the Beacons are just 2-3-2 when they fail to score first and the Beavers are 6-3-1.