Sunday, April 26, 2015

Banquet Notes

It was certainly nice to be back in a hockey setting after getting absolutely smoked on the course this weekend at my home club. My record there used to be like 300-0 but I seemingly can't hit a tee ball right now and it's killing me.

The Pikes Peak Club honored the 2014-15 Eagles this afternoon at the 66th annual hockey banquet. I know the players took a couple minutes to thank all of the members of the club but I want to say thanks to the board, particularly Mr. Fred Kinsman who invited me to the festivities this afternoon. I can't say enough about how much they do for the BC Hockey program, it's certainly an asset that no other program in the country has. 

The awards and all that were fantastic but the real highlight for me was Mike Sit's speech in which he thanked the club, the staff, and his parents. About halfway through, he got pretty emotional and I wouldn't be lying if I didn't sit back and think about what he was saying for a second. Here's a kid who has been somewhat criticized by me and other fans for his performance on the ice but when it comes to the things off the ice, the things that really matter, he is the best of the best. Not only did he have a 4.0 GPA, he (and other members of the team) helped deliver toys to sick kids at Children's Hospital and held numerous events to benefit the kids at St Columbkille School in Brighton. I know, I wasn't always jumping up and down about how things were going on the ice for Mike but today I realized a couple things about our alternate captain. I've always known he was one of the hardest workers on the ice, he kills penalties, blocks shots, finishes checks, does all the things a third or fourth line grinder should do but the biggest takeaway for me was that this kid absolutely loved playing hockey at Boston College and in the mind of this fanatic blogger, that matters more than anything. Did he score a ton of big time goals like a Johnny G or a Kevin Hayes? No but he took more pride in playing hockey at Boston College than anything in his life and for that, I want to thank him and the rest of the senior class.  I wish them nothing but the absolute best in whatever challenges lie ahead and as a lot of people talked about today, the BC Hockey community is always here for you. 

I thought the coolest part of the presentation was when a couple members from the 1965 team came up to the podium to speak to the guys for a second and said something along the lines of there is nothing in his life that makes them more proud than to be an alumnus of Boston College, in particular, it's hockey program. Everyone wants to talk about Michigan grads and Stanford grads and Harvard grads, but all I will say is this, there is no group of people in this entire world that oozes with pride more so than graduates of Boston College do and that could not have been more evident today. I don't care who the heck puts that jersey on next year, if they're beaming with affection and love for Boston College such as people like Mike Sit, Quinn Smith, Mike Matheson, Coach Brown, and Coach York did in today's banquet, I know we will be in a good spot. 

Let Operation Tampa begin. 

Go Eagles. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Updates

It feels like it's been a year since I last posted on this thing since golf season has finally commenced after a brutal winter. I'm starting to get better day by day but once every four or five holes I seem to block a drive way right and it is  driving me absolutely bananas.

Anyways, the US U18 team is out in Switzerland competing for a world championship. They are currently 3-1 (lost to Russia). BC recruits Colin White (4 points), Jeremy Bracco (7 points), and Casey Fitzgerald (3 points) are all taking part in the tournament. The United States will play the Czech Republic on Thursday.

Many have asked about the schedule for next year and while I don't have it, I do know that we will be playing Wisconsin, Michigan State, Denver, Army (road), RPI (road), and Colorado College (road). The Eagles will also be in the Florida Christmas tournament, I don't know who else is in it.

As for recruiting updates, I don't have much. Do not expect Auston Matthews or Matthew Tkachuck to end up at BC or any other college, they will both end up in the CHL. I would keep an eye on Canadian prospect Dante Fabbro. It appears that BC is right in the hunt for his services along with Wisconsin, who appears to be the main competition.

I do not, unlike some fans, expect the staff to bring in another forward for the upcoming season although they almost certainly have the money to do so. The biggest recruit they can land between now and October is Jeremy Bracco. In talking to some people who know much more about the situation than I do, I think there is a solid chance that he ends up at BC but unfortunately, it is not a forgone conclusion.

As for Noah Hanifin, I would say that the odds are 60-40 in favor of him staying but it really depends on whether or not Phoenix selects him with that #3 pick. I've talked to him a couple of times over the course of the year and he had nothing good to things to say about the school, the program, and the staff. Obviously I want him to stay but I will never knock a kid for pursuing his dream.

Anyways, hit em straight and get ready to see Phil make a big run at Chambers Bay!!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Time To Strike Back



Before I start, I want to congratulate Providence on their National Title last night, their first in program history. I've got a good friend who loves PC and and I've always been able to give him crap about BC beating PC every single year and how the Friars were always irrelevant but the tables have turned, at least for now. Nate Leaman's coaching performance is one of the greatest I have ever seen. Yes, he had Jon Gilles but he didn't have a Johnny Gaudreau or a Jack Eichel to turn things around in a split second. He did it through a lot of hard work on the recruiting trail and for that, I give him and his staff all the credit in the world. They're no longer just a poodle fighting against the two Bulldogs anymore, they're one of the top programs in college hockey.

Outside of BC winning the whole thing, there really is nothing better than seeing BU lose a game, especially in that fashion but I want to say that what Dave Quinn and his staff have done over there in such a short amount of time is really something that we will have to reckon with for a long time. They're back, whether you want to admit it or not, we aren't going to steamroll these guys on a year to year basis anymore, like we have done all so often in the past (except for maybe this upcoming year we will). Despite my utmost respect for Coach Quinn and his team, I still love seeing them lose more than anything in the world because if they had won last night, it would have been the start of the longest offseason in the history of BC Hockey but fortunately, we were able to dodge a huge bullet.

While BU losing is great and all, it has got to be a wake up call for the Eagles. We spent all season in the rearview mirror because the college hockey media decided to chalk #9 up like he was the second coming of the Messiah. Well, all I'm saying is Johnny Gaudreau played his best game of his career in his only National Title appearance, Jack Eichel played very mediocre. It's time for BC to step up and make sure BU takes a back seat in the Boston colligate hockey scene but give them credit, they were able to attract a world class talent that will undoubtedly help their recruiting down the road but it's up to BC to make sure it's just a one hit wonder. I'm not saying BU isn't going to be a factor at all for the next couple years, like they have been all too often as of late, but BC has an opportunity this upcoming season to really take what they gave us this season and shove it right back in their faces. If and when Eichel leaves, we should be able to go in there and beat them by 5 or 6 goals next season with the type of talent we have returning and coming in. I remember the Terriers did this campaign last season where they printed out shirts that had "Never Again" scripted on the back. If I was the staff, I would take a copy of the all the articles I could find that were written about BU and post them on the wall as bulletin board material to ensure that the players coming in next season know that while we obviously want to win a National Title, the most important goal is making sure we don't have another season in which we are a step behind BU and if all goes according to plan, we should be able to take that mantle back quite easily next season.

Once again, congrats to the Friars on their title and to BU on a terrific season but let's take what happened last night in stride and come out firing on all cylinders next season.

The big three era commences

Go Eagles !

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Matheson Signs With Florida

Photo from BC Athletics/John Quackenbos 

In the least shocking news of the week, junior defenseman Michael Matheson has signed a deal with the Florida Panthers, who used their first selection on him in the 2012 draft. He will report to San Antonio for an amateur tryout. 

I think it's awesome to see Mike getting closer and closer to achieving his life long dream of playing NHL hockey. He is a terrific kid that has represented Boston College with nothing but class throughout his three years here. I wish him nothing but the best in Florida, where he has a chance to be a really special player. 

Thanks for all your hard work and dedication, Mike. 

Go Eagles !

Monday, March 30, 2015

Staff Picks Up Commitment From 1998 Forward

The staff picked up a commitment from New Jersey Avalanche forward Christopher Grando who had a great week at Nationals, recording 3 goals and 5 assists in 8 games playing for runner-up New Jersey Avalanche. Grando, a 1998 birthdate from Islip, New York, recorded 52 points in 26 games played for the Long Island Gulls in the 2013-14 season but I can't seem to find his stats from this past season. He is a pretty decently sized forward at 5'8 150 pounds. As of now, it seems like he is slated to come to BC in the fall of 2016 after playing a year in the USHL where he is drafted by the Green Bay Gamblers.

Nice job by the staff. They're quietly putting together a nice little recruiting stretch in these past few weeks with Woll and now Grando who was recruited by 7-8 other schools.

Go Eagles.

Doherty Named Captain

Teddy Doherty has been named captain of the absolutely stacked 2015-16  Eagles this afternoon after being voted to the position by his peers. Jr's Steve Santini, Ian McCoshen, and Chris Calnan were named alternate captains.

Couple of reactions. Number one, couldn't have asked for a better captain. Teddy Dots brings his all every single day and is clearly a leader both on and off the ice. Sometimes I think the whole leaderships thing gets a little blown out of proportion but next year, with such a young group, #4 is going to have to lead the way and I have no reason to think he won't follow in the footsteps of the guys that came before him. 

Also, it appears that Michael Matheson will sign with Florida since he was not reelected to the post he held this season but that is not official.....yet. 

Huge news for the staff as it looks like McCoshen and Santini will be returning. 

Most talented team of Coach York era with #3 and #6 back. Now we just have to wait.........a long time. 

Go Eagles. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reflections On a Difficult Season

For the third consecutive year, the longest drought since 2001-2008, Boston College will go without a national championship in men's ice hockey thanks to a disappointing 5-2 loss to Denver in the East regional semifinals. Give credit where it's due as the Pios were absolutely tremendous all night long. I thought they were fast, aggressive, physical, and skilled, all the ingredients you need to win in this tournament. Lots of credit to Jim Montgomery and his staff for getting those guys to play at such a high level in what was a de-facto road game in the national tournament for them. I would not be the least bit shocked to see them in Boston next weekend for the Frozen Four because they're that good, although Providence seems like they're also playing some good hockey as of late.

As for BC, it's almost a fitting ending for what was one of, if not the toughest, season in a long time. We knew going into the year that goal scoring was going to be a huge problem and it turned out to be our unescapable kryptonite. Whether it was last night vs Denver, the Beanpot vs NU, or the series against Vermont, we just could not score big goals in big situations, which is something we always saw during the Johnny Gaudreau, Chris Kreider, and Nathan Gerbe years. The bottom line is that you  can't rely on sophomores and freshmen to come in and produce like those guys mentioned before, as underclassmen. I thought the fresheman class was a huge plus all season long, except for maybe the last two or three games. Alex Tuch, Zach Sanford, and Noah Hanifin came in here and displayed exceptional talent which I believe will carry each one of them a long ways in their hockey careers.

Going forward, I think the biggest question in everyone's mind is with regards to the sophomore class which was one of the largest and most heralded of the Coach York era. Interestingly enough, their production dropped significantly from last year to this year even though they were given more playing time but I think that might be the root of the problems right there. If Gilmour, Fitzgerald, Cangelosi, and Calnan aren't your "go to" guys but the guys that can create an enormous amount of depth and skill on the top three lines, such as they did a season ago, then you've got a heck of a team but they were just worn out when they had to go against guys like Eichel, Roy, Rau, Fasching, Moore, and Heinen week in and week out. The thing is, there was such a drop off in production from the freshmen and sophomore classes to our junior and senior classes that if Gilmour, Tuch, Fitz, Cango, etc had off nights, then we were in huge trouble. Amazingly, there were games in the 2014 season when G and Hayes were off but those guys picked up the slack because at the end of the day, they're still very, very good hockey players. They just don't match up well against the highest of the high end guys like they had to so often this year. Of course, as juniors they will be asked to be the forefront of the team because of such a small senior class but only next year they will have a lot of weapons surrounding them, something they did not have this season.

It put a big smile on my face to see Mike Matheson play one of, if not his best, games of the season in what will probably be his last time ever wearing the maroon and gold. I would say that there has never been a player, at least in my memory, that has been scrutinized as much as #5 has but at the end of the day, he is one heck of a hockey player and despite what a ton of other fans say, he made our team a lot better than it would have been without him. I don't think he will come back but I hope he at least considers it because as I said, he's a great player and was a terrific captain this season. Obviously, I don't want to see next year's senior class be the first in Coach York's tenure to never play in a Frozen Four so I look for them to really step up and take control of what will be a young but extremely talented squad next season.

I want to take this paragraph to thank Michael Sit, Destry Straight, Quinn Smith, Danny Linell, Brad Barone, Brian Billet, and Cam Spiro for all they have done for BC Hockey. Yes, many critics will talk about the lack of production and all that stuff but the bottom line is that you represent Boston College with class and dignity both on the ice and off and I believe this class did that. They worked harder than any group of seniors I have ever seen at BC but it just wasn't meant to be for them. I wish them all the best of luck in whatever lies ahead and hopefully they will continue to be terrific representatives of Boston College and it's hockey program.

At the end of the day, it goes without saying that this was as tough a season to be a BC Hockey fan as it gets. Not only was it a tough year for the maroon and gold, the only thing worse than BC losing is seeing BU win and unfortunately, it seems like it's their year. I've always said this and I think a lot of fans are starting to realize it now. If we don't have a good year and we're the 58th best team in college hockey but BU is 59th, then everything is okay but when they're winning Beanpots and making Frozen Fours, I don't think that is something that anyone at BC will accept. Sure, all the losing this year stunk but I can't help but think that it will motivate the players and coaches to come back next year and light the world on fire. We will see where all the dominos fall as the summer goes by but right now, there is a chance for next year's squad to be the most talented team Coach York has ever had. I have 100% confidence that the staff will go out and build teams in the future that will consist of speed, toughness, determination, and most importantly, talent. They have done a terrific job of bringing in some high powered reinforcements for the 15-16 season but it's about what the players do from now until October 9th that will determine just how many games this team can win next season because if you ask me, there is no reason why they can't run the table.

Let a brand new era in BC Hockey commence.

Go Eagles.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Denver Preview



For the third time this season, Boston College will face off against Denver only this time around, everything is on the line. The Eagles come in as heavy underdogs versus a DU squad that many are predicting to win the National Title thanks to their stellar depth and defensive core. While Denver has complied a terrific record of 23-13-2, they are just 6-7-2 on the road and while this is certainly not a true home game for the Eagles, it might as well be due to BC's proximity to the Dunk. Anyways, from what I can tell, Denver has a style of play that can translate very well on the road in big games. They are structured, very good in both ends, and have a couple of studs that can possibly carry them a long way in this tournament. Of course, the Eagles and Pios met in the first round a season ago when the maroon and gold ran away thanks to some guy named G. I am fairly confident that Denver will come out of the gates with as much energy and excitement as it gets so we need to be ready to weather the storm early on.

As I have said twice already, the key for BC will be trying to contain Denver's terrific defense and first line. They are led by Joey LaLeggia, perhaps the best offensive defenseman in the entire country outside of Noah Hanifin. Supporting LaLeggia on the back end will be World Jr Championship standout Will Butcher who has 3 goals and 13 helpers this season. Obviously, no one knows exactly what Jim Montgomery will do with his lines but there is a good chance that his top top line will consist of his top three scorers, Danton Heinen, Trevor Moore, and Daniel Doremus, a trio that combined for 119 points this season. Since we don't have last change, it will be pivotal for the staff to try and get Hanifin and McCoshen out there every time those guys hit the ice but I am not sure which line they will try and matchup vs Doremus and company. I think they will start with Sit, Smith, and Straight but that could obviously change as the night goes on. BC has to be aware of Denver's defense taking the puck and moving it up the ice with their feet. Guys such as Butcher, LaLeggia, and Zajac love to take the puck and go while also jumping in from the offensive blue line.

The most interesting question going into tomorrow's game is who will start in net for the garnet and gold? If I was a betting man, I would go with freshman Tanner Jaillet but it was the sophomore Evan Cowley who played (very well) in both games against BC in November. No matter who starts, it has to be all about getting pucks and bodies to the net. We aren't going to skate circles around these guys for 60 minutes so if there is nothing in the offensive zone, just put the puck on net and hope for a rebound. We have a huge height advantage against this team so let's use it to our advantage. The more traffic we create in front, the more scoring chances we will have. Of course, we all know what the biggest key for this BC team is that they have to find a way to score the first goal tomorrow. As a coach, it must stink putting such an emphasis on that first tally but tomorrow, it will be paramount, especially considering the style of play the two teams both play. Amazingly, BC's record when leading after the first period is 13-0-2 while their record the other way around is 2-6-2. They have to find a way to get a lead after the first period tomorrow night.

Doesn't get much better than fighting for a chance to play in the Frozen Four in your home city and that is exactly what these guys have a chance to accomplish this weekend. This Denver club is the best we will see all season but I know we can find a way to win if we do the things we do best. We have to be sound in our own end, we need great goaltending, and most importantly, we MUST score the first goal.

He will get em going. Let's go baby.

Scouting Denver- 

Record- 23-13-2, recently defeated North Dakota in NCHC consolation game. Fell to Miami in semifinals.

Leading scorers- Danton Heinen (16-29-45), Trevor Moore (21-21-42), Joey LaLeggia (13-25-38)

Team offense- 3.29 goals scored per game (9th)

Team defense- 2.45 goals allowed per game (29th)

Power play- 21% (7th). Very good.

Penalty kill- 84% (25th)

Shots on goal margin per game- + 3 (21st)

Keys- 

You know the keys. Just win baby.

Notes- Doherty at forward. Silk out.

GO EAGLES !!