THE BEACON STREET BULLIES
Man, this team is not afraid of contact.
No. 3 Boston College (8-1-0, 3-0 Hockey East) took two this weekend from the University of Maine (0-6-3, 0-3 Hockey East), and neither of the contests were even a little bit close. The Eagles physically dominated the Black Bears all over the ice, and rose to meet every challenge that Maine presented. At any point in time, each guy on the ice for BC is banging bodies, fighting for pucks in the corners and joining scrums after the whistle.
There was one major skirmish in each game between the two teams. On Sunday, White took on Maine goalie Rob McGovern and tackled him into the back of the net. Casey Fitzgerald battled along the glass, earning 14 penalty minutes in the process. Wood, too, engaged in spirited combat with the Black Bears.
BC head coach Jerry York noted that his freshmen brought youthful energy, but had to learn how to control their emotions better than they have in the past few games.
“It’s something we’re gonna keep working on,” York said. “They have to get better at it, that’s for sure.”
On Friday, the older boys took over—McCoshen and Sanford each earned 10-minute misconducts. Thatcher Demko even got in on the action himself, earning a two-minute minor for roughing.
Demko has presented himself as the ultimate heel in Hockey East—after McGovern was sent to the penalty box following Sunday’s brouhaha (and yes, the refs actually put him in the penalty box), Demko skated out to his own blue line, tapped his stick on the ice, and challenged McGovern to meet him at center ice to go fisticuffs. The referees obviously wouldn’t let it happen, but Demko extended the invitation nonetheless. Not only is Demko is the best goalie in the country right now, but he’s playing like he knows it. Six shutouts in seven games will do that to a man.
Matty Gaudreau appears to be the most improved player on the team through nine games. At times in the past two seasons, Gaudreau looked lost in the sauce on the ice, struggling to keep up against larger, quick competition. But this year, Gaudreau is skating with more confidence, passing with more awareness, and generating more scoring chances on a much stronger line. He had an assist in both games over the weekend, and he looks to be a major player down the road for the Eagles in 2015-16.
SPECIAL TEAMS DICHOTOMY
BC has a suffocating penalty kill. The Eagles extend outward from their defensive zone, preventing the Black Bears from easily entering to the zone. In five chances, Maine only generated nine shots on net in Friday’s game, obviously scoring on none of them.
The unit of Colin White, Ryan Fitzgerald, Steve Santini, and Ian McCoshen probably generated more offensive chances down a man than Maine did on the power play. Adam Gilmour and Zach Sanford, too, put great pressure on the opposition’s specialty units. The Eagles had sticks in the passing lanes, connected on their body checks along the boards, and blocked shots in front of the net.
But as great as BC’s penalty kill is, the power play has been just as bad. In six chances on Friday, the Eagles only put six shots on net, and two of the power plays finished with zero shots.
Miles Wood almost single-handedly got the power play back on track toward the end of Sunday’s game—he fought tooth and nail to jam the puck through McGovern’s extended pads and across the goal line. Without that goal, there would be a lot more negative discussion about BC’s power play.
WHITE AND WOOD ARE GOOD
Speaking of Wood, he is very clearly one of the best players on the ice, despite the fact that he is a freshman. The extra years that he took to prep for the collegiate game—Wood just turned 20 in December—made him ready to play quicker and more physically than any freshman that BC has had in a long time.
White, his freshman counterpart, looks just as effective through the first portion of the season. He is currently leading BC with four goals and eight assists through nine games, and Wood is just two points behind him for second on the team.
Most projected BC’s freshmen to make a major impact on the team, but few anticipated that they would be this strong in the first part of the year. White and Wood lead the class, but enough cannot be said about the contributions from the inexperienced fourth offensive line, as well as Fitzgerald and Josh Couturier on defense.
Quite frankly, it’s difficult to identify any glaring weaknesses on this team. With Demko playing at this inhumane level, it wouldn’t take much for BC to eke out a win every night. But with the skaters in front of him clicking as well as they are, the rest of the NCAA has officially been put on notice.
Featured Image by Lucius Xuan / Heights Staff