Johnny Gaudreau is to Conte Forum as Batman is to Gotham City. As Shrek is to Far, Far Away, as Don Quixote is to La Mancha. The nation’s leading goal scorer has become the staple of all things Boston College hockey. One would be hard pressed to find someone who has never heard of the top-scoring star winger on the men’s hockey team. Gaudreau is virtually a celebrity on campus. The band even plays “Johnny B. Good” every time he rips one past an opposing team’s goaltender-if that doesn’t say “hot shot,” I may have to rethink my standards of stardom. (Yes, the Jonas Brothers are still considered celebrities.)
Lurking in the hockey star’s enormous shadow is a lesser-known member of the team-yet his last name rings through Conte Forum regularly. Matt Gaudreau, the younger brother of the Calgary Flames prospect, joined the Eagles this season as a freshman forward. I remember the first time I became aware of his existence-I thought the PA announcer for the game against Army had made a mistake by declaring that the younger Gaudreau had scored his first collegiate goal. This would be one of the few games Matt would see all season, however, as he went on to ride the pine for a majority of the campaign, until his appearance in the game against UMass Lowell. He didn’t suit up for 17 consecutive games, while his brother continued to score goal after goal with the best line in college hockey.
One can only imagine the pressure Matt must feel with the well-known accomplishments of his brother. Truthfully, it’s the same old song and dance: younger siblings are often overlooked in the presence of their seemingly flawless older siblings. Take it from a varsity pine-rider like me, my sister’s countless athletic achievements made me seem pale in the eyes of her devoted followers. I was the constant tag-along to games and competitions. To be blunt, it was horrible. I was working just as hard in my athletic endeavors, yet I never got the glory or the recognition I deserved and that my sister received.
Same for Matt-he has to show up and perform at long, grueling practices, lift-sessions, and long team road trips, yet, his efforts are rarely rewarded with playing time.
So, Matt, allow me, a fellow shadow-dweller, to sympathize with you and give you and all the those in our position some words of encouragement. First and foremost, it’s an incredible honor to merely be on the roster of one of the best teams in the country. It’s clear that the time and effort you put in during your time on the Omaha Lancers has paid off, as you earned yourself exclusive membership to the coveted BC boys’ club.
Those in the spotlight know that they cannot achieve greatness completely on their own accord. In fact, most of the time, the heroes need a little assistance from the sidekick. Everyone knows that Shrek could not have saved Fiona from the dragon without the help-and tomfoolery-of Donkey. And Don Quixote is nothing but an earthly fantasist without the simplified wit and corrections of Sancho Panza. These counterparts and the support they bestow upon their friends are crucial to the success of the heroes.
Matt, continue to play your hardest during practices, because your participation only betters both your brother and the rest of the team. Without your strong passes, without your forechecks, and without your aggressive play during practice, the team could never have improved and gone on an 18-game winning streak. Johnny, Bill Arnold, Kevin Hayes, and Thatcher Demko-some big names on the team-cannot be as good as they each may be without you and the rest of the boys on the team. The team would inevitably fail and be ill prepared and weak in the eyes of the tough competitors it has faced this season.
Remember to be supportive off the ice as well. The pressure to carry a team through an NCAA tournament is tremendous, and Johnny will more than likely look to you, his own brother, for that encouragement and well-wishing in the next few days. A pregame battle of NHL with him might do the trick. (Let him win. It’ll be a nice confidence booster.)
The best part is, Matt, you’ll be able to give Johnny these pats on the back as you sit next to him on the bench, as your coach said you have earned a spot on the fourth line at this Saturday’s first round tournament game against Denver. The hard work and discipline you demonstrated throughout the season have fared well in the eyes of the all-mighty Jerry York. It’s your time to shine, bud.
Keep working hard, keep being supportive, and know that the next three years will bode well for you as long as you persevere and continue to be a team player-on and off the ice, and even at the kitchen table. Maybe one day it will be “Matty Hockey” chanted regularly in Conte.