Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Updates from WJC

The BC guys @ WJC- Coach Ayers, McCoshen, Tuch, Demko, Wood, Santini, Bracco, and Hanifin. Photo from Dave Arnold. I know, the background is awful.
Couple of updates to run through-

World Jr  camp started today @ Walter Brown Arena. Representing the Eagles were Ian McCoshen, Noah Hanifin, Thatcher Demko, Alex Tuch, along with recruits Miles Wood and Jeremy Bracco.

The most important news of the day was that Steve Santini skated but did not participate in contact drills, according to those that were there. He will have surgery to remove the pins in his wrist on Monday. Someone tweeted earlier that he is one of the top contenders for the captaincy but I'm not sure what the deal is there.

McCoshen, Hanifin, Demko, and Santini (if healthy) are all locks. I thought Tuch was on the fence but they had him playing on the top line with Jack Eichel and Tyler Motte (Michigan) so I think it's safe to say he's on the team.

Everyone knows I think Miles Wood is the next big thing so I obviously think he's going to make the squad but from what I've heard, he is squarely on the bubble. I talked with a people who attended practice and they said he is without a doubt one of the quickest guys on the ice (he's also one of the biggest forwards) but his "skills" may not be up to par with what they need. That's insane.

Bracco is without a doubt the most talented player the staff has coming in next year, heck he may be the most talented recruit they've ever landed (that includes G). He's young and jus tone of two guys trying out from the U18 team (Matthews) but I'd put he's chances of making it at 75%.

Lastly, Thatcher Demko's WHL rights were traded from Spokane to Calgary this afternoon but I wouldn't worry about this at all. Even Calgary's GM stated that it's a long shot that they get the BC netminder and Demko seems to be enjoying it @ BC.

Go Eagles.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Huge Step

Photo from The Heights

Christmas came 12 days in advance for the Eagles last night as the picked up a potentially season altering victory over the University of Michigan Wolverines. It's been a year full of bad puck luck for the maroon and gold but they found a way to change that up last night as they converted on their chances while the maize and blue didn't. BC moved from 31st to 25th in the latest pairwise rankings, their biggest leap of the season. If you were at the game you would agree with me that the score really doesn't tell the whole story. Michigan outplayed us for practically the entire second period, with help from the refs, but the way Thatcher Demko played was nothing short of amazing. In fact, his 41 saves are the most in his young BC career. Within the first four minutes of the game, Michigan hit two posts and were denied on a breakaway chance so if Teddy Doherty doesn't find a way to put home practically BC's first good chance of the night, we might be looking at a different story. We talked about how Michigan's weakness was their play in their own end and I think it was quiet evident in the first twenty minutes last night. BC forechecked hard and forced them to run around for more time than they probably would have liked. Overall, BC was probably the better team in the first stanza but it was their execution that made the difference.

Like I think everyone expected, the Wolverines came out firing in the middle frame but thanks to Demko, they were held off the board until late in the third. The teams had a role reversal from the first as we were running around our end and taking bad penalties but ironically the usually potent Michigan power play wasn't able to come through. I'd say that the penalty kill has been the most improved aspect from day one to today. They're blocking shots, taking away passing lanes, giving opponents less time at the point and most importantly, they're getting great goaltending. It would be nice if we could get a few more power plays here and there. 

I thought there were a lot of guys that played at the type of level the staff needs them to play at in order to win hockey games in the second half of the season. Tuch was tremendous, McCoshen continues to look like BC's best overall blue liner, Doherty keeps finding ways to put the puck in the net, and obviously Demko is playing at of his mind right now. The fourth line of Silk-Gaudreau-Spiro played perhaps it's best game of the semester while seniors Quinn Smith and Destry Straight have been shining as of late. 

Anyone who thinks this is any other win is just flat out wrong. Michigan's got a lot of really good players on their club and we know that no matter how "low" BC may be at times, they still have the best defense, goaltender, and Coach in college hockey. Say what you want about this team but they clearly are working their butts off out there and getting a full roster back January 9th at Northeastern can only help the cause. Big win but still a long ways to go. 

I highly recommend attending the World Jr team camp this week at BU. They will play the Terriers on Friday night @ Walter Brown Arena before making cuts. Tuch, Santini, McCoshen, Demko, Hanifin, Miles Wood and Jeremy Bracco are all on the preliminary roster. 

Go Eagles

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Michigan Preview

The Eagles will close out the 2014 year with a huge non-conference matchup tonight @ Kelley Rink vs the University of Michigan Wolverines. After a bit of rough start to the season, Michigan righted the ship with four straight wins, albeit against RPI, Ohio State, and a surprisingly strong Penn State team. Perhaps the most notable result for UM this season and one that BC fans would be shocked by is their 8-4 drubbing of Lowell at Tsongas Arena. Not only are they one of just two teams to beat UML at home this year, I bet they're probably the first and only team to post that kind of number vs a Norm Bazin coached team. In any game, eight goals is absurd but against Lowell? That's unheard of. Michigan followed that win up with a hard fought loss the next night @ Boston University.

This will be a game of two teams that have pretty different styles of winning hockey games. Michigan has a lot of high powered, highly skilled forwards led by first round draft picks JT Compher and Dylan Larkin. Compher hasn't produced quiet as much as he was at this point last season but senior Zach Hyman and junior captain Andrew Copp have picked up their games and are tied for the team lead in goals with 7. Here is a look at Michigan's projected forward lineup.

Tyler Motte*- Alex Copp*- Tony Calderone
Alex Kile- Dylan Larkin*- Zach Hyman*
Max Stuart- JT Compher*- Boo Nieves*
Dexter Dancs-Travis Lynch-Justin Selman

As you can probably tell with the six NHL draft picks, these guys are quick and talented up front. They are 2nd in the country with a 4.07 goals per game average, 4th in the country in shots per game, and 1st in the country in points per game. So, you may be asking, how are they not the #1 team in the country? Well, they struggle in the defensive end especially after the departure of senior leader Mac Bennett a season ago. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Wolverines are 41st in goals allowed per game (2.93), they're 29th in the country in shots on goal against per game (29.43), and 39th in opponent's power play percentage (19%). Leading the way on the blue line for Michigan has been sophomore Michael Downing but other than him, they don't have anyone that really jumps out at you like they have in the past (Trouba, Merrill).

We all know it's been a tough first half in a lot of areas but a win tonight would be absolutely crucial for BC's pairwise standing. The Big Ten is very weak this year outside of Minnesota, Michigan and perhaps Penn State so we can assume that Michigan is going to light it up in league play and will most likely have a strong case for an NCAA tournament bid in March. Other than Denver, the Eagles are missing quality non-conference wins that would help boost their pairwise numbers but a win vs what I consider a very strong Maize and Blue squad would go a long way in helping the cause. If they can find a way to win this game and get healthy and pray for no injuries in the WJC, they'll be fine heading into trophy season because they still have a ton of opportunities for quality wins vs some top end opponents. At one point or another, we are going to need to start making a case for the NCAA tournament and we all know that Coach York will get them going eventually but sooner rather than later would be huge.

On a positive note- Miles Wood recorded three points in the biggest prep game of the season last night as Nobles beat Dexter 4-1. If you haven't seen this kid play, please go do so. It will give you a lot of hope.

Go Eagles.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Staff Picks Up 1995 Defenseman

The staff picked up a commitment today from 6'1 1995 defenseman and former Northeastern commit Josh Couturier from Newbury, Ma. He currently plays for the Boston Jr Bruins and has recorded 13 goals and 7 assists through 20 games.

We've spent a lot of time talking about BC's ever changing recruiting philosophy and it seems like the staff is really putting an emphasis on mixing in solid, four year guys (Couturier) with the higher end guys like Hanifin, McCoshen, etc. No matter how hard they try, it's going to become tougher and tougher to keep top NHL prospects on campus for as long as they have done with Matheson, Kreider, Cross, Dumoulin, etc.

It's perceived as a solid pickup that is probably low risk/high reward although Couturier did get a 4 for 4 from Northeastern a few years back. Don't be surprised if they pickup another former Hockey East commit who plays alongside Couturier in the near future (he's a forward).

Go Eagles

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Positive Vibes

It's nice to win, isn't it? Thanks to three goals in a four minute span which included two strikes 16 seconds apart, the Eagles picked up a must needed league victory over New Hampshire by a score of 3-2. Obviously the team probably would have taken any type of win tonight, whether it was 500-499 or 1-0, they just couldn't go into the break without any Hockey East points. I thought a lot of the guys that I thought played well last night showed up and brought their games tonight. The Cangelosi-Fitz-Sanford line is beginning to look like a formidable trio while the second line of Tuch-Gilmour-Straight  continues to generate quality scoring chances while at the same time holding opponents off the board. The most notable statistic of the night, in my opinion, was that Austin Cangelosi was +3 with three points, giving him four on the weekend. A lot of fans have been calling for the highly touted recruited to start producing and I think he's really starting to turn the corner. If you this guy, the reason for his slow start has been because BC hasn't been able to play at a fast pace all season and unfortunately, they may not get a chance to until Wood, Bracco, White, Dudek, and Brown come in but right now it's good to see Austin showing progress.

On the defensive side of things, I thought Teddy Doherty responded with a great game after struggling somewhat on the big sheet last night. As the series progressed, BC did a better job of taking away UNH's time and space once they hit the offensive blue line. For example, their first goal last night was a result of BC giving them too much space once they broke into the zone. The more aggressive BC gets with their highly skilled defenseman, the better the results usually are. In fact, all four of UNH's goals this weekend were due to some very fixable errors on the defensive side of the puck, issues that could certainly be solved once Santini returns. I was a bit worried about Ian McCoshen's play five games through the season but I don't think it's crazy to say that he's been BC's best defenseman in The Sheriff's absence, really happy with the way he's been playing.

Look, the second half of this season is going to be an absolute battle but it can't be any tougher than what this team had to go through in the first 16 games. They lost their best defenseman, they can't find a way to buy a goal, they've had a lot of bad puck luck, and they've had to battle through a good amount of adversity. I'm not saying they're going to win 30 straight games and hoist the National Championship at the end of the season but the more hockey games they win, the more confidence they will possess. You never want to face a confident BC team in February and March.

With all that being said, they will host Michigan next weekend in what will be the final game before Christmas break. Any time you play the Maize and Blue, there's a little more juice in the tank. 1998 will never be forgotten.

Solid weekend. Go Eagles.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Keep Your Head Up

Over the course of the past two months, I've gotten a lot of negative feedback about me, my blog, and the program as a whole because of what I keep writing. Before I get into the UNH game, I want to clarify a few things here. This is the best program in college hockey and to be honest, no one is even close. Me rambling on about the recruiting is just me being a sore loser. Did they make a couple of mistakes three or four years ago? Perhaps. Can they do anything about it now? No. The recruiting class they have slated for next year is without the best one they have ever had. White, Bracco, and Wood are the type of players you only see every so often and oh by the way, Dudek and Brown are NHL draft picks. I know I get upset and my emotions get the best of me but trust me, the people that actually matter, the ones that can actually do something about it, are even more upset and believe me when I say this, they are going to make things better. No coaching staff in college hockey works harder than Coach York, Coach Brown, and Coach Ayers. They have built up a recruiting machine over the course of the past two years and it will only be a matter of time before we're loaded again. I promise.

Games like tonight's tie at UNH are frustrating for sure, especially when you play your heart out and get robbed by the officials. The goal they called back was a clear goal. There is no way around it other than it should have counted. Nothing we can do about it now. I thought Cangelosi, Smith, Sanford, and a handful of other guys were playing at a high level all night long. Demko made a couple of key stops to preserve a one goal deficit throughout the third period. The penalty kill was firing on all cylinders as was the first line of Sanford, Fitzgerald, and Cangelosi. I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone that really pays attention to program who doesn't believe Zach Sanford has been a huge plus for this club. I've really been impressed with the way he plays and I think he's one of those guys that's just going to continue to develop as time goes by.

For me, tonight isn't about dissecting what went right and what went wrong, it's about me getting rid of this cloud of negativity surrounding the BC Hockey Blog. Just a little warning, this might be a tough year but if there is anyone in this world that hates losing more than I do, it's the staff and they already have reinforcements on the way. No matter what I may write or what I may tweet, you must know that this program is in good hands because the man in charge will never let this ship sink. When you wake up tomorrow and start getting all upset about how this year is going, just remember these two words.

Jerry York

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

7 Eagles Named to US National Preliminary Team Roster

Five current and two future Boston College Eagles were named to US National Jr team this afternoon. Thatcher Demko, Ian McCoshen, Steve Santini, Noah Hanifin, and Alex Tuch were the current players named to the squad while Jeremy Bracco and Miles Wood were the two future birds that got the call. Santini, McCoshen, and Demko were all on the team last season.

When the roster was announced, two things immediately jumped out at me. I knew Bracco would make it because he is arguably the most talented 17 year old in the North America but the fact that his teammate and potential first round NHL draft pick Colin White did not make the team was a huge surprise for me. Bracco is more of a Johnny Gaudreau type player who can do magical things with the puck while White is a Brian Gibbons type with more of a pro upside. Obviously, we're happy for Jeremy and hopeful that he gets a chance to play in the tournament (they will still make a couple more cuts) but at the same time, we're certainly dumfounded by the fact that White didn't get a nod.

The biggest surprise of the day for a lot of people was that Nobles forward Miles Wood made the roster as the only high school player. I've said over 200 times that he is the best player I've ever seen in the ISL but people just refuse to believe me. Hopefully this gives blogger a little more credibility.

Congrats to Thatcher, Steve, Ian, Alex, Noah, Jeremy, and Miles and good luck at camp!

Go Eagles.