First of all, I apologize for the lateness of this post- the application season is one heck of a bear.
The Eagles closed out the first half with a stunning 4-3 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a game they led 3-1 with under twelve minutes to go. Obviously, you have to give Jeff Jackson and his team credit for battling back, especially on the road. I was impressed with the way they played all night long and they will certainly be a team to be reckoned with in the Spring. As for BC, I thought they fought like dogs. They were missing a third of their usual forward lineup and had to play an unprecedented 2.5 lines but were within five minutes of a taking down a very good Irish squad. Injuries aside, BC clearly has work to do. Over the past three games, they have given up three goals directly after losing face-offs and for whatever reason, shots from the point seem to be finding their way into the net more often than they should.
The line of Sanford, Cangelosi, and Gilmour was tremendous for the Eagles, recording a combined seven points. It will be interesting to see whether or not the staff considers keeping those three together. Teddy Doherty and Steven Santini were BC's two best defensemen, going +5 on the night while the other four blue liners were -7. It's a bit concerning to see BC give up 39 shots to a Notre Dame team that is not known for its offensive prowess. The Fighting Irish dominated the possession in the first and third periods and if it wasn't for a few timely saves, they could have blown the doors open early in the contest.
Instead of writing a full recap, I thought it would be best to discuss where the Eagles are and what they need to do in order to win trophies over the next few months. The most obvious observation is they need to get healthy. Christmas break could not have come at a more opportune time with Tuch (upper body), Calnan (upper body), Wood (illness), and Silk (upper body), all nursing wounds. The first three guys should be back in time for the Ohio State game on December 28th but Silk may be sidelined until the Beanpot.
There are many aspects of the game that have improved from this time last year to where we're at now, but the pace of play is the most glaring. This BC team plays at a ridiculously high level, especially in transition. The two freshmen, Miles Wood and Colin White, have made an immediate impact not just on the team's success in the win-loss column, but the production of every player. Through sixteen games last season, Austin Cangelosi had 8 points, at the moment he's got 15. Ryan Fitzgerald had 9 points, as of today he's at 21 for the year. Matthew Gaudreau, the biggest surprise of the first half, played in just 10 of the first 16 games a season ago, recording 3 points in that time span. At the halfway point of the 2016 season, Gaudreau is 6th on the team with 13 points. Incredible.
With that being said, there are problems that need to be addressed. They cut back on the penalties versus Notre Dame as the Irish only had two power plays but the schedule gets tougher in January and there will need to be an even bigger emphasis on staying out of the box. If they give Providence and BU five or more power plays, they won't be giving themselves a good chance to win. Thatcher Demko had a tremendous first half, notching six shutouts in seven games at one point in November. Despite his consistency in-between the pipes, playing every single minute for sixteen straight games will take a toll on any goaltender, let alone one who is coming off major surgery. The good news is that he aged out for the World Jr Championships and will be able to use these next three weeks to recharge.
All in all, give this team and staff a lot of credit for the way they persevered through the first three months of the season. They could have gone into a shell after losing one of their top players to the OHL but the Eagles played better in almost every game after Bracco's departure than they did when he was here. No matter who was in the lineup, they brought their best effort night in and night out- if they do that from here on out, the sky is the limit.