Marketh down the 11th day of the fourth month of the third millennium as a period of great change and chaos, a time from whence glorious tales of bygone eras were shouted by the mouths of doves to legions of Facebook friends and followers of Twitter. For in the 17th hour cast by the glorious Spring sun, the Flames of Calgary announced their taking of Johnny Gaudreau, micro magician of the ice, from the land of Chestnut Hill. The king has left, the king has gone, and yet, the kingdom will live on.
One day after Boston College’s Johnny Hockey won the Hobey Baker Award, signed the dotted line, and hopped on a jet to Vancouver, the calm Internet oasis free from hot takes, reckless speculation, and opinion mongering composed of the people who care and talk about BC athletics had a minor heart attack.
A freshman forward on the BC men’s hockey team, Chris Calnan, caused the scare, or rather, his teammates did. Calnan’s teammates began spamming his account with congratulatory mentions, wishing him the best of luck in the future and implying that he was leaving BC. Before the forward could fire back with a “My friends aren’t funny” tweet, people jumped to the conclusion that he was signing with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The prank was timed perfectly. Given that Calnan is a freshman and scored 13 points in 37 games this past season, his signing with a Stanley Cup contender heading into the postseason would seem unlikely-especially because 65-point scoring senior winger Kevin Hayes has yet to sign with the Hawks-but the joke worked. The pace at which the rumor spread and the nervousness it caused illustrated something bigger than Internet gullibility, though-there are some serious feelings of jumpiness regarding the future of the BC men’s hockey team.
Three years, 78 goals, 98 assists, and 83 wins later, the Gaudreau era is over, and its conclusion ushers in a true changing of the guard and a legitimate feeling of uncertainty around Conte Forum. Looking ahead to next season, BC is losing Gaudreau, Bill Arnold, Patrick Brown, Hayes, Isaac Macleod, and possibly Michael Matheson, if he inks a deal with the Florida Panthers. Including Matheson, that’s the loss of 260 of BC’s 461 total points from the 2013-14 season.
When BC lost seniors Patch Alber, Parker Milner, Pat Mullane, Brooks Dryoff, Patrick Wey, and Steven Whitney after the 2012-13 season, there was some concern, but also a great deal of confidence in the junior class coming up to lead. The heirs apparent for the 2014-15 BC team are significantly less clear-cut. Excluding Gaudreau and the two goalies, Brian Billett and Brad Barone, BC’s five remaining juniors combined for 14 goals and 28 assists for 42 points this year-barely more than half of the 78 points produced by Arnold, MacLeod, Hayes, and Brown during their junior campaign.
Barring huge statistical leaps heading into 2014-15, it seems likely that the leadership and the points will come from the underclassmen, and while there’s an old soccer adage that you can’t win anything with kids, next year’s team will need the younger players to step up to find success.
In terms of the offense, BC has proven talent waiting in the wings. Ryan Fitzgerald and Austin Cangelosi bookended head coach Jerry York’s second line and led the freshman charge this year with 29 and 26 points, respectively. Adam Gilmour showed flashes of brilliant vision and played regularly on the fourth line all year, ending up with 20 points in 40 games.
Keeping in tradition with recent years, BC’s incoming recruiting class includes a talented group of players. York’s recruits include four of the top 10 players in the country: No. 2 Sonny Milano (forward), No. 3 Noah Hanifin (defenseman), No. 7 Zach Sanford (forward), and No. 8 Alex Tuch (forward), according to CollegeHockeyNews.com. The recruits are a bump up in size for BC as well. Each one is at least 6-foot, 180 pounds, with Tuch weighing in at 6-foot-4, 213 pounds.
Possibly the greatest key to BC’s success, however, will be its leadership from the blue line and behind. BC’s freshman goaltender, Thatcher Demko, and defensemen, Steve Santini, Ian McCoshen, and Scott Savage, were inconsistent at times, but played beyond their years for much of the season. Factor in the recently elevated play of Teddy Doherty, the addition of Hanifin, and the seasoning of the current defensemen and man between the pipes, BC’s defense could be the core of the team next season. Additionally, Matheson would be a tremendous game-changer if he decided to stay.
The Gaudreau era is over and Johnny B. Goode has Johnny B. gone-the latest epoch under Jerry of York has begun. BC is going into a significant reloading phase, but the existing talent and incoming recruiting class suggest that BC could be an NCAA Tournament-caliber team again next year. As the youngest team in college hockey, BC made it to the Frozen Four. They say you can’t win anything with kids, but for the second year in a row, BC probably won’t listen.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor