Saturday, September 20, 2014

A New Hope Arises

I'll be the first one to admit it, I probably underrate some recruits and overrate others, mainly because of the amount of time I have watched some and not others. I live in Chestnut Hill, so I don't get a chance to watch recruits out in Ann Arbor (I'm not that crazy, I don't fly out to Michigan to watch recruits), but I always try and get to any local games that involves any potential recruits. Don't get me wrong, I watched Noah Hanifin a lot while he played @ St.Sebastian's, heck I probably went to every game over the course of his sophomore season but like I've said in past posts, it is getting difficult to measure the quality of players in the ISL mainly because the product of the league has gone so far down due to the rise of the USHL/EJHL/BCHL etc.

Listen, I watched Noah twice this summer and I left the rink thinking he was by far and away the best player on the ice but like anyone else would, I've always been curious as to how his talent would translate onto the ice @ Kelly Rink. I saw him practice for the first time yesterday and I know it's just a one hour session with no real flow to it yet but I'm telling you right now, you won't believe how good this kid is. I'm sure Jack Eichel is a tremendous hockey player and he will do great things down the street but the amount of attention he receives compared to Noah is just typical Hockey East media bias towards BC.

I'm not going to go out and say Noah's going to be the next Bobby Orr or Nick Lidstrom but there is one thing I can say with very little hesitance, he will be one of, if not the best, defensemen in Hockey East this year. Everyone always talks about an "adjusting period" for freshmen and I think both Sanford and Tuch will have a little bit of that, but Noah? Not so much. He looked like a man playing with kids during some of those drills. When was the last time you saw a defensemen that was 6'3, 200 pounds, and was without a doubt one of the best skaters on the ice?

I know we are all worried about the lack of scoring up front and trust me, I can understand why but adding this kid to what was already the best returning D core of the Coach York era is a huge boost for the team's chances at a National Title. Again, I know he hasn't even played a game yet and I just watched about thirty minutes of practice but a freshman doesn't show up on day one @ this program and look like the best player out there unless he is something totally unique. I don't know how long he will be at BC, getting him for more than a year would be icing on the cake but I'm telling you right now, this kid is going to have as big an impact on this program as anyone that has ever put on that uniform. Trust me.

Oh and he is the youngest player in the history of the program. Go figure.

Go Eagles.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Recruiting Notes

Lot of homework tonight so just a quick little run through.

- Late 1997 D Jacob Bryson visited BC a few days ago, he is a defenseman that will play at Loomis  this fall. Played with Connor Moore on the Neponset River Rats this summer and impressed the staff @ the Labor Day tournament in Marlboro. Other schools that are in the hunt for Bryson include Providence and Northeastern. Lots of upside. Downside is his size, only 5'9

- Speaking of that Labor Day tournament, the US Hockey Report came out with their player rankings. In the U16 division, 2016 recruit David Cotton struggled and was given a "B" rating. I was out there for one of his games and he just looked flat out tired. He didn't have a great summer so hopefully he picks it up @ Cushing this fall.    

- Luke McInnis was given an "A" rating for that tournament, he plays for former Eagle Andrew Orpik and a loaded Cape Cod Whalers U18 squad that includes Lincoln Griffin, Ryan Shea, Billy Sweezy, and Will D'Orsi. Connor Moore looks like he has improved tremendously since the last time I saw him play in December. He was also given an "A" rating.

That's all I got. Go Eagles.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Top 5 Position Battles Heading Into "Preseason"

Coaches and players hit the ice today for the first time @ Kelly Rink and a new season of Eagle Hockey is set to begin. This year, perhaps more so than other in the past five years, is full of question marks, especially up front. The Eagles return star goaltender Thatcher Demko as well as the nation's best D core but with the loss of the big three plus the last minute ditch by he who shall not be named, the forward depth is average at best.

I'll do more previews and stuff as the season gets even closer but I kind of like the fact that there are so many unknowns. Everyone looks at that as a bad thing but why not give guys like Tuch, Sanford, and Calnan a chance to step up and play big time minutes? A summer full of training plus more experience plus more playing time with higher quality players plus an "average" Hockey East could make for a nice jump in points for some guys. The bottom line is that certain guys, especially Calnan, Gilmour (not as much), and Spiro will need to step up and play consistently solid hockey.

Here are some questions.

1. Final forward spots. Like I said, we are not very deep this season but our talent level on the front end ranks in the top three of the league along with BU and Providence. I'm not going to get into positions now because the staff still has to try and figure out what guys are going to move and so fourth so bear with me.

Locks- Tuch, Sanford, Gilmour, Calnan, Cangelosi, Fitzgerald, Linell, Smith, Silk, Gaudreau

Bubble- Straight, Spiro, McMullen

This year, more than any other, I expect the staff to constantly roll three lines, especially when we play teams like Minnesota, Denver, and Providence.

2. First power play unit. Fitzgerald, Gilmour, and Cangelosi will be the first forward unit, to start. Matheson will be on one point but the question is who will be on the other. They have two good options, Scotty Savage and Noah Hanifin. I think they will start with Savage on the first unit meaning the second unit will be Tuch, Sanford, Calnan, Hanifin, and McCoshen. Not bad.

3. Who will be first line right wing, Calnan or Cangelosi? Of the top six forwards, all of whom could be moved to any position, I would think they will have to put both of these guys at right wing because I don't think either could play center very well. Cangelosi could probably adjust on the fly but they like Calnan's play on the boards. Hopefully he improves his skating and produces. Cangelosi first line, Calnan start.

4. Out of Smith, Sit, Spiro, Linell, Straight, and Silk, who will get the most playing time? Because of the lack of depth, one (maybe two) of these guys is going to have to play a lot more minutes than he did last season. I really liked the way Silk progressed in his sophomore year but he's not the most skilled guy on the ice. Personally, I've always been a big fan of Cam Spiro, he had like 30 goals in his senior season @ Tabor and he has manifested his speed and skill during practice and the few games he's had a chance to play in.

5. How much will the style of play change this year? Not really a position question but I think the staff is going to change the way this team plays hockey. A year from now, we will be stacked and play that open, fast paced, north/south style we love to play. This year, I think it's going to be more defensive, a little bit more passive forecheck, and much less goals/shot totals. As long as they win, I could care less if they score one goal and then throw the puck around the rest of the game. Whatever gets more goals on the board than the opponent.

Ryan Shea committed to Northeastern yesterday. Would have been nice to see him go to BC but really wasn't going to work out, unfortunately. Anyways, that's all on the recruiting front.

Go Eagles.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Hero That Needs To Be Honored

There are certain dates that everyone, no matter how they old they were at the time, remembers exactly where they were, who they were with, and most importantly, the impact the event had on their life. September 11th, 2001 is without any doubt the worst day in the history of our country and perhaps the worst day this world has ever seen. Nearly 3,000 men, women, and children will always be remembered for the sacrifices they gave to our country. The Boston College community lost 22 distinguished alumni but the story of Welles Crowther, class of 1999, is one of the most well known 9/11 stories ever documented. If you don't know the entire story, please take ten minutes out of your day and watch this video. It will forever change your view on that day and will perhaps inspire you to remember this man and what he did. 

For those of you that do know the story, it goes without saying that this man is the type of individual that each parent should try and mold their kids to be like. Welles Crowther could have just left the south tower of the World Trade Center with the rest of his coworkers. Instead, he went back and without his heroic acts, 7 or 8 more individuals would have lost their lives on that dreadful day. 

One of the main hallmarks of the Jesuits and their mission is to be a "man/woman for others". If you can find a better example of any person being a man for others than Welles Crowther, please feel free to email me. I'm not an administrator, admissions director, or teacher but if we could get just a couple of graduates each year to be like Welles Crowther, then there is no reason why Boston College cannot be the best university in the world. That man epitomizes everything that a BC graduate should be and for that reason, this university should do something to let every student, fan, alumni, visitor, etc know who he is and what he did on September 11th, 2001. 

Now, there are numerous ways the school can honor Welles, whether it be a statue, a section of Conte Forum dedicated to him, a banner, a building bearing his name, or as one twitter follower suggested, an honorary degree in his name for the service of others. While I think a degree would be awesome, there needs to be something that every single person who visits campus can see and learn about this remarkable story. Maybe they could even paint a red bandana on the ice and leave it there from here on out? 

This university has had a lot of notable graduates that have been recognized in some way, shape of form (Tip O'Neil, Snooks Kelly, Doug Flutie) but in my opinion, no Boston College graduate deserves more recognition than Welles Crowther. 

Go Eagles and Rest in Peace, Welles. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Top 5 Recruiting Targets

As you all know, the college hockey season is just around the corner but the drop of the puck @ Conte Forum also marks the start of another year of recruiting for the staff. Last year was without a doubt one of the best years in BC Hockey recruiting history as they gained commitments from Jeremy Bracco, Zachary Walker, Luke McInnis, Graham McPhee, Chris Brown, Connor Moore, David Cotton, and of course,  Miles Wood. It is quite amazing how much better these next three recruiting classes will be (talent wise) compared to the past four we have had. Outside of last years freshmen class, we only brought in two NHL draft picks, combined, in the 2012 and 2013 freshmen classes (G and Matheson). For comparisons sake, there were 6 in the 2014 freshmen class, and two of the three guys coming in this year are already draft picks, the other will be a top five pick this summer. Here is the simple form.

2012 freshmen class- 1 NHL draft pick (G)

2013 freshmen class- 1 NHL draft pick (Matheson)

2014 freshmen class- 6 NHL draft picks

2015 freshmen class- 2 NHL draft picks (will be 3 in June)

2016 freshmen class- 3 NHL draft picks already (Bracco and White not eligible until this summer, will be 5)

So as you can clearly see, the staff has really ramped up their recruiting efforts over the course of the past couple of seasons. Detractors love to talk about BC's "shady" recruiting tactics but the numbers and draft picks clearly show that no other school in the country, outside of maybe Minnesota, recruits as well as BC does. For all the talk about how intense the BC-BU rivalry is on the ice, the most intriguing aspect of the rivalry is on the recruiting trail. In the 2010 documentary "The Battle of Comm Ave" Jack Parker was the first to point out that the rivalry off the ice is five times more competitive than the one on it. We win some (Wood, White) and they win some (Eichel) but a new hockey season only means another installment of colligate athletics' greatest rivalry, off the ice.

Anyways, I went out and tried to gather some information regarding a couple of top targets for the staff this season. A lot can happen over the course of a long hockey season so things will change but right now, I think this would be a pretty accurate list. It's not in any particular order but Krys is #1.

1. Chad Krys- The 5'11 defenseman from Ridgefield, CT is the #2 ranked uncommitted prospect on Over the Boards and it is widely known that his final two choices are BC and BU. The issue for the Eagles is that both of Krys' parents attended BU and his father was the captain of the hockey team. On the plus side, he hasn't committed to BU yet and a lot of people believe that BC has a legitimate shot to land him. If they did, what an upset that would be.

2. Jacob Bryson- A 5'8 defenseman from London, ON will enroll @ Loomis and Chaffee this fall. Played for the Labor Day Tournament winning team in Marlboro, Neponset River Rats alongside BC commit Connor Moore. 22 points in 32 games played last season for the London Jr Knights. Providence and Northeastern are also in the mix, among others.

3. Auston Matthews- 6'0 forward from Arizona, currently plays for the USNTDP U18 team,  recorded 12 goals and 21 assists last season for the U17 squad. Supposedly was very impressive at World Jr Camp in Lake Placid earlier this summer. He is a draft pick of the Everett Silvetips (WHL) but has spoken with a bunch of colleges. If in fact he does go the college route, it would be a big time pick up for the staff.

4. Jake Wise- There was White, Eichel, and Hanifin, and now there is Wise. The North Andover native is only a 2000 (!!!!!!) birthday but completely outclassed the 15,16,and 17 year olds he played against last weekend in the New England Fall Prep league up in Salem, NH. He even gets that comparison that drives me insane every time I hear it...."he is the next Sidney Crosby". BC and BU again.

5. Ryan Shea- 5'11 defenseman out of Milton and BC High.  Father Danny is certainly one of the top 10-15 forwards ever to play @ BC, certainly top 5 of the non-Coach York era. Look, I think the kid is certainly good enough to come in and play here, Over the Boards has him ranked #3 in their uncommitted list but I don't think the staff is going to get him and isn't because he doesn't want to go to BC. Who knows, maybe things will change and they will get him but as of now, it doesn't look good. Don't be surprised if he winds up you know where.

Have a good weekend. Go Eagles.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Change In Direction? Yup

Ever since the event that shall not be named that occurred two weeks ago, the staff has explored a couple of options to add some depth to BC's forward core. There were three legitimate options, well, two really. The first (pretty unrealistic) one was to bring in Noble and Greenough forward Miles Wood a year early. He is, without a doubt, BC's #3 forward recruit in the pipeline (behind White and Bracco) but unlike those guys, he will be a 19 year old senior in high school this fall. He couldn't make it to Chestnut Hill this year because he doesn't have the high school credits required to gain entry into BC.

The second, what I thought very realistic, option was to bring Joey Dudek, who did in fact graduate from high school this spring, a year early. The reason they didn't bring Dudek in is because while he would have most likely been able to accelerate and gained entry into the school, the staff feels that he needs one more year to develop into the top end player that he is capable of being.

The third option the staff had was bringing in Chris Brown but like Dudek, they think he needs a year in the USHL to play against bigger, stronger guys similar to the ones he will see in Hockey East just a year from now.

You may be wondering why I decided to title this "A Change in Direction". As you certainly know, the whole age issue in college hockey drives me insane. I have never been a fan of the fact that we have 17 year old freshman that have to play against guys @ Merrimack and Lowell that are 22/23 year old freshmen or 26/27 year old seniors but like my lovely (sarcastic) twitter followers like to point out, there is no rule against bringing in older guys and maybe the staff should try and see what they can do with older prospects. Well look how old these guys are going to be when they hit the ice for us.

Zach Sanford (this fall)- Turns 20 on November 9th.

Joey Dudek (fall of 2015)- Will turn 19 midseason.

Miles Wood (fall of 2015)- Will be 20 when the puck drops in the fall of 2015.

Christopher Brown (fall of 2015) Will turn 20 towards the end of the 2015 season.

Whether we like it or not, and I certainly am not a fan, college hockey recruiting is changing in so many ways, especially the age at which players are first recruited and when they eventually arrive on campus. The fact of the matter is my opinion, the staffs opinions, your opinion, don't matter. Older players is becoming a trend but unlike other schools in this league (besides BU), we continue to bring in TRUE freshmen that will have every opportunity to succeed.

Oh and by the way, Merrimack is bringing in their first true freshman since 2003, this fall. Go figure.

Go Eagles.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Four Eagles Named To All American Prospects Game

One current Eagle and (hopefully) three future ones were named to the All American Prospect game, which will take place September 25th in Buffalo, New York. Noah Hanifin (the only current Eagle), Colin White, Casey Fitzgerald, and Jeremy Bracco were named to the 42 man squad. The four Eagles is the second most amongst NCAA teams, the Michigan Wolverines led the way with five guys. BU had two. 

Congrats to all four guys. Good luck. 

Go Eagles.