That loss still stings. Not as much as a loss to BU but it still stings. However, mix in a huge commitment (Bracco) and decision by Matheson to stay, and things are suddenly looking a heck of a lot better in Eagle Hockey world. I didn't have time to elaborate much on this but I was super excited about the choice of Mike Matheson to be the next captain of the Eagles. I think he's a terrific teammate, possesses a certain amount of talent that I don't think any other defenseman in the country has, and most importantly, he is someone that will represent this school with class and dignity. I'm sure some were surprised that it wasn't a senior but let's be perfectly honest. The senior class hasn't met expectations. In his three years here, Johnny G recorded 175 points. The other four forwards in his class (Straight,Sit,Smith,Linell) have recorded a combined 109 points in that span. That's not the type of production we look for around here. That brings me to my first point in the state of the program, a feature that will cover all aspects of the program (what needs to improve, what is looking good, recruiting, scheduling, all that fun stuff).
1. This years senior class needs to step it up three or four notches. I have to be honest with you, I am really worried about these guys. 42 points this season between Straight, Sit, Smith, and Linell just isn't going to cut it. I mean, I don't even know if all of these guys are going to be in the lineup. I think Sit will be fourth line center, Smith fourth, maybe third line left wing, same situation with Straight and as for Linell, it doesn't look promising. This is going to be the youngest team of the Coach York era (I believe) and the incoming freshman are going to look at the seniors and go by their example. If you have senior leaders that are going out and having a good time even though they aren't performing on the ice, the freshmen are going to pick up on that. These guys have to change their whole mentality over the summer. They're not here to have a good time and party. That's not why they were given an opportunity to come to this institution. Work hard, set an example, and most importantly, beat BU.
2. One more question mark heading into next season. It's a big one. Go through the lineup yourself and you will see we need one more forward to be accelerated. Tuch, Milano, and Sanford will come in and play huge roles but if we get Miles Wood to campus next fall, we will have three lines that can score and a fourth line that can play against another team's first line. Milano can play first line left wing, Miles can play second line left wing, Tuch can play second line right wing, and Sanford can play third or fourth line center or right wing. Accelerating Miles would allow the staff to move Fitzgerald to center which could greatly enhance the production of the guys playing with him. I wouldn't get my hopes up though, I think he is headed back to Nobles.
3. How much can the defense step up their offensive production. Overall, I think Matheson's offensive performance this season was just a tad below what they wanted, Doherty's was average, so was McCoshen's, Santini isn't really a guy you're looking at to score and distribute, and Savage was probably the biggest surprise of the group, recording 18 points on the year. The best part of next year's club is that every defenseman is going to possess the ability to skate north/south and make plays offensively. Our forward group is solid but it isn't what it was this year or what it will be in 2015. Our defensive group on the other hand, is as talented as any group we've ever had, rivaling the legendary D core of the 2009 Terriers. In a perfect world, you would like to see Hanifin and Matheson have 30+ points, McCoshen and Savage record around 23/24, and Doherty/Santini to be around 20. It is, without a doubt, a group to get extremely excited about.
Part two coming up tomorrow or later this week.