Back to the hockey teams of Boston University and Providence College. So, as a member of the Lynah Faithul, either watching this game on television or bracing for the scene in Boston, which team should you support tonight? Well, the contributors here at Where Angels Fear to Tread came up with six reasons why fans of the carnelian and white might consider supporting the scarlet and white in tonight's ultimate contest.
"Why six reasons?," you may ask. The answer is obvious. Six is the number of NCAA era national titles that the Terriers will own if the program from Boston University prevents Providence College from getting its first. Why support Boston University?
1. A Providence victory dilutes Cornell's elite status.
Each time a new winner wins, the exclusivity of the group is undermined and previously won titles begin to matter less as more programs begin to have them. So, sorry Providence College, to preserve the value of Cornell's 1967 NCAA championship (let's face it, no one can undercut the value of the 1969-70 perfect NCAA championship season) and the stature of Cornell hockey overall during this too-long-already drought, we've got to cast our lot in with Boston University to keep the club exclusive. The standards already have gotten a little lax. I mean, Minnesota-Duluth, Yale, and Union recently crept in.
2. Eichel is THAT good.
In a way Cornell hockey can respect, he has shown up in the biggest way in the postseason. We, in ECAC Hockey, know how good Jimmy Vesey is. Using him is a metric, let's compare Eichel and Vesey as postseason producers. During the regular season, Eichel produced two tenths fewer goals per game than did Vesey. The Harvard junior forward increased his goal scoring by 64.5% in a historic tear to the Whitelaw Cup. Vesey was incredible. ECAC Hockey opponents lived in actual fear of Harvard in the conference tournament for the first time in nine years.
What if I told you that the freshman from North Chelmsford has several-upped the Harvard goal scorer? After a three-point outing against North Dakota and assisting beautifully on the overtime winner against Yale earlier (an assist that was not given proportionate acclaim), Jack Eichel sits three one-hundredths of a goal per playoff game behind that of Jimmy Vesey from their respective conference quarterfinals through the present.
Jack Eichel's postseason goal-scoring rate is 104% of his regular-season contribution of this nature. I still stand by my argument about Eichel's contribution in general. His ability as a play maker, rather than goal scorer, are born out in his lopsided 18-37-55 line from the regular season. However, he has proven to be a big-game player who delivers assists and goals when it matters most. That is something that the Lynah Faithful admire and can support.
3. Boston University, unlike most of Hockey East, values its history in ECAC Hockey.
Why bring up Boston College? It is an illustrative counterexample of Boston University.
Boston University knows its modern roots lay in the history of ECAC Hockey. Banners above its ice celebrate its five ECAC Hockey championships (Cornell had six at the time of The Divorce, Boston College had two, behind even Harvard's three). Its modern players weathered a carnelian storm to earn the right to put the name of Jack Kelley, a legendary coach who bossed a bench in college only in ECAC Hockey, before that of Ned Harkness on Boston University's and Cornell's rivalry trophy at Red Hot Hockey IV. David Quinn, a coach who became part of the Terriers hockey program when it was part of Hockey East, reveres and instills remembrance of that bygone era in his players. When Jack Eichel made reference to the greatness of Boston University hockey and its former players after he received the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, he referred not only to events after 1984, as he would have were he a Boston-College player, but to the era when the hockey greats of Boston University and Cornell annually made the old Boston Garden their playground in March.
4. Boston University guaranteed its place in the national tournament the "right way."
How did Boston University make the national tournament? It won the Hockey East tournament.
Yeah, yeah, Boston University would have made the national tournament whether it won the Hockey East tournament or not. However, when given the choice between a team that earned its way into the national tournament with a playoff run or one that could not even win a series in its own building (anyone think Cornell belongs in the tournament this season? Exactly.), the choice is clear. We do not need another celebration of hacking the pairwise.
Even Yale in 2013 made ECAC Hockey's neutral site. Cornell values championships, especially conference tournament championships. Support the team that guaranteed its entry into this postseason the "right way": By winning something.
5. Cornell gets a better draw at Red Hot Hockey V.
If Boston University fails to win, the most important of those considerations, the early departure of Jack Eichel, becomes less likely. If Eichel achieves his goal of winning a national title, he is almost certainly gone. If he does not, one can hear it in his voice, it becomes a far, far harder choice.
So, Boston University's winning tonight guarantees that Cornell will have a better draw of opponent at Red Hot Hockey V. Yes, Boston University's incoming class is very good but I would rather Cornell roll the dice with a team that will again need to rely on at least some freshman talent than want to deal with the monster that would be sophomore Jack Eichel.
[On a serious note, I actually hope that Jack Eichel returns, even if I find it very unlikely, because it is better for the sport of college hockey to have fewer one-and-done players. It would be a great coup for college hockey if he returned. Much like I felt with my endorsement of Jimmy Vesey's return, if Cornell cannot beat a program or team at its best, it does not really deserve to beat it at all.]