Sunday, October 19, 2014

Win #1


In what was a dominating defensive performance, the Boston College Eagles picked up their victory of the season last night, defeating RIT 6-2 in front of 10,556 rowdy Tiger fans @ Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. First of all, I thought the atmosphere was absolutely tremendous, credit RIT for going out and scheduling games like that for their homecoming. Rochester is certainly a hockey hotbed where Coach York has had a lot of success on the recruiting trail (two Giontas, Reasoner) so hopefully that game last night can help enhance not only RIT's hockey program, but hockey in Rochester as a whole. As for the game, I thought BC was as good as they could be in their own end for large portions of the contest, particularly in the first period in which it seemed like the Tigers couldn't get a shot on goal to save their lives. They came out and tried to set the tone early with a lot of big hits but BC countered with a super aggressive forecheck that had the opponent running around their own end like chickens with their heads cut off. The breakouts, the forecheck, the turnovers, and the execution was leaps and bounds better than it was @ Lowell.

We said at the beginning of the year that BC had no shot to a win a National Title if they didn't get production from their stellar group of defensemen. Well, last night they combined from six points and had four goals from Matheson, Doherty, Santini, and McCoshen. Not only were they contributing to the offense in a big way, they started to look somewhat comfortable in their own end. Last weekend, they moved the puck like it was a hot potato and it led to countless turnovers and eventually a couple of River Hawks goals. That wasn't the case last night. For all the talk about Matheson, Hanifin, and McCoshen, it's the undrafted, 5'9 Teddy Doherty who leads all blue liners in points thus far. It doesn't hurt when his partner, Ian McCoshen, plays about 15 times better than he did vs Lowell. It's tough for Ian because he's such a big, physical guy and the tight rules of college hockey really affect him and the team sometimes. Overall, that's the exact type of game the staff wants the defense to play like, no turnovers, no stupid penalties (iffy call on Hanifin in first), and joining the rush when they can. Perfect night. 

Up front, it was Zach Sanford and Ryan Fitzgerald who led the way. The other prediction I had at the beginning of the year along with the one stated in the second paragraph is that BC couldn't survive without points from Sanford and Alex Tuch, the two highly touted freshmen forwards. Maybe it was the first game jitters or the effectiveness of Lowell's forecheck but whatever the case, Sanford, Cangelosi, and Fitzgerald generated a lot more scoring chances in game two than they did in game one. Quietly, Brendan Silk, Cam Spiro, and Mike Sit combined for four points and the bottom six forwards combined for six shots. They had just one a week ago. From my point of view, Chris Calnan has been the most improved forward through two games. He didn't have any points but he did have  three shots on goal and barely missed out on scoring in back to back games on multiple occasions. He doesn't really need to be a multiple point per game guy like Fitzgerald, Gilmour, and Tuch need to be but he does need to be one of, if not the best, forecheck on this team. He certainly was last night. 

Overall, I'm really excited about the way the team played as a whole. My only two concerns are the power play and penalty kill, both of which seem a little out of synch. The departures of G, Arnold, and Hayes hurt this team on the power play more than anywhere else because last year's second unit, this year's first unit, really hasn't gelled yet. They always figure special teams out at one point or another. I'm not too concerned. 

Why BC Won- 

1. Defense leads to offense. When the guys on the blue line are playing like that, beating BC is going to be very, very tough. Not only are they skilled on their feet when controlling the puck, they've got a little bit of a nasty side to them. Super skilled but also tough to play against. 

2. Sanford and Fitzgerald were on fire. They combined for five points. 

3. They turnovers were cut substantially. Small amount of turnovers=win. 

Negatives- 

1. Power play and penalty kill are a tad off. McCoshen had a nice bomb from the point with under two minutes to play, giving BC their first PP goal of the year.

Player of the game- Teddy Doherty 

Next Up- Colorado College on Friday. UMass on Saturday. Both at home. 

Go Eagles. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

RIT Preview


After an extremely disappointing start to the season last weekend @ Lowell, the Eagles will look to right the ship as they face off vs the RIT Tigers. Interestingly, RIT is coached by Wayne Wilson who was a member of Coach York's 1984 NCAA Championship team @ Bowling Green. Associate head coach Brian Hills also played for Coach @ Bowling Green. Obviously, this is a huge game but for a lot of varying reasons. First of all, the first win is always one of the toughest to get, especially in front of what is sure to be a raucous crowd of 10,000 screaming Tiger fans. Secondly, BC has got to show their ability to play solid in their own end because that is supposed be the strength of this team. Some of the breakdowns vs Lowell were atrocious. A loss is a loss but last weekend wasn't just a loss, it was a game in which the Eagles looked totally out of sorts for forty minutes. Hopefully a good week of practice and a full squad will help enhance both the defensive zone breakouts and offensive productivity.

RIT is 1-1 on the season with a win over St.Lawrence and a loss vs Clarkson under their belts. This will be their fifth straight season hosting the "Brick City Homecoming", last year they faced off vs Michigan and almost beat a Wolverine squad that was fresh off a victory vs BC. There are certain games you just have to find a way to win, no matter how good the opponents plays or how tough the environment is, you just have to find a way. Tomorrow is one of those games. Five of the last eight seasons, BC has lost their opening game, in fact they've done that the past three years. Lost @ NU in 2013, @ Michigan in 2014, and @ Lowell last weekend. One of the reason Coach York and the staff decided to schedule this game and so many other non-conference road games is because a win on the road is added points to the pairwise standings. The Eagles are currently 46th....it's early.

There are a lot of things that need to get better and I'm not expecting a perfect game tomorrow but if dumb penalties and turnovers are prevalent, it isn't going to be pretty. This team is simply not explosive enough to make up for three or four really bad give aways in their own end. Towards the end of the second and certainly in the third period vs UML, the Eagles were able to generate a lot more pressure but unfortunately, it was all from the first two lines. BC's bottom six forwards combined for just one shot and freshman defenseman Noah Hanifin led the team with four shots on goal. I love Noah but a freshman defenseman isn't supposed to be the best player on the ice with a team full of future NHLers in his first game, even it's Noah Hanifin. 

When it's all said and done, we're going to learn a lot about this team's ability to rebound from adversity. Once the crowd got going after UML's first goal last week, BC couldn't do anything about it. Even if RIT scores the first goal or two tomorrow, the Eagles can't just pack it in like they did last weekend. It's a 60 minute game! We played about fifteen minutes at a high level a week ago. 

Keys for BC- 

1. Can't turn the puck over. Hockey isn't too different from football in the sense that whichever team turns the puck/ball over more, usually loses the game. BC has got to find a way to clean up in their own end.

2. Special teams. Neither the power play nor penalty kill was very effective last week. They still don't have a set top power play unit, they just do it by lines. Tuch, Gilmour, Fitzgerald, Matheson, and Hanifin would be a potent first unit. Also, they could possibly move Savage into the second unit. 

3. Scoring from the bottom two lines. Believe it or not, the return of Brendan Silk should help substantially. He was without a doubt the most improved forward from 2013 to 2014. Spiro, Sit, Linell, and Smith need to find a way to muster more than one shot on goal. 




Go Eagles. 




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Couple Updates

First off, I want to say thank you for all the messages of support I got this week. It is certainly a tough situation for me but hopefully all wounds heal over time. I'm looking forward to writing about some actual hockey over the next couple of days.

The Eagles will make the trip out to Rochester tomorrow and take on RIT Saturday night @ a sold out Blue Cross Arena. Here is the projected lineup.

Calnan-Gilmour-Tuch

Sanford-Fitzgerald-Cangelosi

Spiro-Sit-Silk (First game)

Smith-Straight-Linell

Matheson-Savage

Santini-Hanifin

McCoshen-Doherty

Out- Matty G, Peter McMullen, Travis Jeke


The USNTDP U18 team played @ Providence tonight and they will take on the Terriers tomorrow @ the Jack Parker Rink. BC recruit Jeremy Bracco notched NTDP's third goal this evening in a game they ended up tying 3-3. Casey Fitzgerald recorded their second goal. The big uncommitted name on this year's roster is forward Auston Matthews, an Arizona native. According to Mark Divver of the Providence Journal, Matthews is 50-50 on whether he will go college or WHL. The schools he is considering are BC, Denver, Michigan, and BU. 

I will have an RIT preview up wither later tonight or on Friday. 

Go Eagles. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Message to My Readers

For those of you that follow this blog both on the website itself and on Twitter, you are well aware of my inexplicable actions over the course of the past couple of weeks, perhaps even months. Ever since Spring of last year, there have been many "deletions", personal Twitter posts, and tweets that reflect poorly on both myself and more importantly, Boston College Hockey. Yesterday's tweet about a Boston University player was totally inappropriate, untrue and although I didn't write it, I am 100% responsible for what goes on both on this blog and on it's Twitter page. There is no excuse, no one else to blame, and no reason for it other than my own personal stupidity.

While some may think otherwise, I have a ton of respect for BU Hockey, especially when it comes to David Quinn and his staff. I do not tweet stuff unless I know it is 100% true, on every level. While there were some tweets two weeks ago that caused up some stir, those were ones that I had confirmed but certainly should have kept to myself. As I said, what took place yesterday should have no repercussions for anyone else involved or associated with Boston College, other than me. It was a 100% a lie.

I have embarrassed the school and the program that I love more than anything else and for that, I am terribly sorry. I do not know what the future holds, but I promise that I will do my best to get back to just reporting on Boston College Hockey. After all, that's all that matters to me.

Sorry. Go Eagles.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Back On Track

With all the momentum arch rival Boston University has built up over the past months on the recruiting trail, the staff was in desperate need of a big get. Well, they got that today. 2000 birthdate TJ Walsh committed to BC. In the Massachusetts hockey world, two 2000's were considered to be the "next big things" one of them, Jake Wise, committed to BU over BC last weekend. This weekend, the good guys picked up a victory.

Walsh will play for Shattuck St Mary's Tier 1 Bantam team this season. Coach Ayers was out watching him yesterday, he committed today.

Obviously, Walsh's enrollment is a long ways away and anything can happen between now and then but it's just nice to see the staff get back on track.

Go Eagles.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rough Start

For the third straight season, the Eagles dropped their opening game, this time it was a league contest in front of a packed crowd @Tsongas Center vs Lowell. First off, give Lowell and their fans a tremendous amount of credit. The crowd was loud, energetic, and certainly had a big part in their club's victory. The Eagles started off well with a goal from Chris Calnan but three straight defensive lapses allowed the River Hawks to garner the victory. I thought the first couple shifts were real good, filled with pressure but all the sudden BC dumped the puck into the zone, Lowell takes it out going the other way and two BC forwards collide at center ice, giving the River Hawks a 4 on 2, and an easy goal. If you look at it, Lowell has numbers but one of BC's defensemen just let's their forward go right around him without an effort, that results in a mini 2-1 and an eventual goal. Nothing Demko could do. The second goal featured the same defensive pairing as Lowell swung the puck around the net, BC lost a battle on the half wall which could have led to a clear, next you thing you know the puck ends up in the back of the net. BC looked totally lost in their own zone for large portions of this game. The strength of this team is supposed to be their ability to keep opponents off the scoreboard with their aggressive defense and consistent goaltending. Neither of those were present last night, especially the defense. On the third goal, we actually had the puck deep in their end but after a lousy pass, they take it up the ice with numbers and instead of staying with the winger that was breaking down the ice, one of our defenseman shifts over to the guy with the puck which forces the back checker (Smith) to somehow pick up the guy that's already five feet in front of him. Everyone is going to think it was Smith's fault but it's not because he didn't try. He was the one that turned the puck over initially but for some reason, both of our defensemen decided to converge on the puck carrier.

After a rough first period and a half, I thought Ryan Fitzgerald's line really picked it up, evident by Fitzs' goal with under two minutes to play in the second stanza but BC just never got in a rhythm offensively or defensively. Winning a road game in Hockey East is impossible if you take stupid penalties and turn the puck over. BC turned it over more last night than they did in any game last season. I was totally wrong about Lowell's forecheck, they were aggressive all night with two guys in hard on the puck and a third waiting on the wall to pick off a pass. Once BC transitioned up the neutral zone, they generated some quality chances, especially early in the third when McCoshen and Spiro barely missed out on goals, but the defensive zone play was painful to watch for a long time.

The first five minutes of the third was all BC but a bad icing led to a face-off with tired guys on the ice which led to another horrible turnover on the wall which resulted in the game ending goal. Frustrating. Really frustrating.

Early in the third I noticed that Zach Sanford and Michael Sit were out. I can tell you that Sanford suffered an upper body injury and Coach York said he was experiencing some "dizziness" after the second stanza. No word on Sit. The Eagles have the next six days off before making the trek up to Rochester to play RIT.

Obviously, not the way we wanted to start the season but the mistakes are ones that can certainly be fixed. Less turnovers, less penalties, capitalization on the power play, and more experience for the younger guys should led to positive results in the near future. It will be interesting to see what the staff does as far as line changes go for next week.

Why BC Lost- 

1. Turnovers.

2. Breakdowns.

3. Penalties.

Next up- @ RIT next Saturday



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lowell Preview



For the 92nd time in the history of the school, Boston College will field a men's ice hockey team starting tomorrow night when the #2/3 Eagles travel up to Tsongas Center and take on the #18 Lowell River Hawks. For the fifth straight season, BC will start it's conquest on the road. Their last opening game at home was in 2009, a banner night win over the Wisconsin Badgers. Obviously, a new season brings a great deal of excitement for the players, staff, fans, and blogger. For the first time in a long time, we are flying a bit under the radar not only nationally, but in Hockey East. Personally, I love how everyone is talking about Providence being the next 1993 Maine team and how Jack Eichel could beat out Sidney Crosby for the NHL MVP right now. Sure, we're still #3 in the rankings but there are a lot of guys on this club that have a chance to prove a lot of people, including myself, wrong.

Of course, Lowell is going to be out for revenge after we ended their season last year in the NCAA Northeast regional final which was certainly one of the best games I have witnessed in a long time. Norm Bazin has done a tremendous job rebuilding what was a defunct program but now his club is full off "his guys". No team, perhaps maybe UMass or UNH, loses more than Lowell does from a season ago. Top scorers Joe Pendenza, Josh Holmstrom, and Derek Arnold graduated while forward Scott Wilson, defenseman Christian Folin, and All American goaltender Connor Hellebuyck all bolted for the pros. That's a lot of players. To deal with the massive exodus, Bazin and his staff brought in a whopping 14 man freshmen class, plus former UMass goalie, Kevin Boyle who transferred. This is what I love about this game. Their guys get thrown right into the fire vs the #1 program in the country, at home, in front of sold out crowd, with a lot on the line. As inexperienced as we are at some positions, we look like a group of veterans compared to these guys (not counting age, of course).

With all the losses, I expect Lowell to amp up their defensive style. In last weekends exhibition against St.Thomas, a game which they won 7-3, four of their goals were scored on the man advantage .  When it comes to five on five, especially the first two lines, BC has a big advantage but if Lowell gets 6 power play chances like they did vs St.Thomas, odds are they're going to find a way to score. I don't expect BC to blow anyone out of the water this year, especially a Lowell team that rarely gives up a large amount of goals, but if they can ware these guys down early with a strong forecheck, zero penalties, and minimal defensive lapses, it could be a good night. Today's practice was all breakouts, something that having a star-studded defense can't hurt in the least bit. The tough part isn't going to be breaking the puck out of the defensive zone because the River Hawks rarely send a forechecker in, it's going to be in the neutral zone. BC is going to have a hard time making plays in between the blue lines so the best option might just be to get the puck deep, send two guys in hard with a high forechecker, and force a turnover or hope for a penalty.

So, who's going to score the goals? The two most impressive guys in the exhibition and at practice were Adam Gilmour and Alex Tuch. They will be joined by Chris Calnan on the left wing. All I'm going to say is this, find a way to get Tuch the puck because the kid can shoot it better than anyone forward I've ever seen around here, including Steven Whitney. Calnan can do the work down low, Gilmour is a good facilitator of the biscuit, and Tuch can flat out finish. I have high expectations for that line. Another guy I really like tomorrow is Cam Spiro. For some reason, the staff didn't play him much, if at all, a season ago but he brings a unique combination of speed and skill that no bottom six forward possesses. Look for him to be a pleasant surprise.

Sure, there are lots of questions and very few will be answered tomorrow night but for me, tomorrow is better than Christmas morning. Other programs may do it differently but around here, the expectations never change. 1. Always beat BU. 2. Win a National Championship.  This team has the talent and leadership to win a lot of hockey games but tomorrow night is chance to show the college hockey world that this is still our conference. Big game.


Scouting Lowell- 

Leading returning scorer- Adam Chapie (12-11-23) He didn't play last weekend so not sure what the deal is.

Best returning defenseman- Zach Kamrass (4-16-20)

Leading returning goaltender- All new guys

NHL Draft picks- One (Evan Campbell, 5th round Edmonton)

Projected top line- AJ White- Evan Campbell- Terence Wallin

# of Freshmen- 14, plus one transfer

# of departures from last year- 9

Keys for BC- 

1. Avoid turnovers in the neutral zone

2. Stay out of the box. Like always.

3. Move the puck on the power play. Get it to Tuch on the half wall. they play him in front of net, I don't like him there. What do I know.

Injury Report- Brendan Silk is OUT. Upper body injury.

7:15 start. Go Eagles.