Tag Archives: johnny gaudreau

Long Ride Home: Austin Cangelosi Is Back Where It All Began

Stuck somewhere on I-90 on his way back to Boston College from Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum, Austin Cangelosi had to blush.

“Well, that’s nice of him to say for sure,” Cangelosi said.

Cangelosi, the Eagles’ center and alternate captain in 2016-17 who now plays for the American Hockey League’s Albany Devils, was referring to the kind words of his recently former head coach, Jerry York. In his 45 years leading college hockey teams, York has seen a lot of players. But there was no doubt which three reminded him most of Cangelosi.

Nathan Gerbe, Cam Atkinson, Johnny Gaudreau. York put Cangelosi’s name alongside three Hobey Baker candidates, the last of whom won the sport’s highest honor in 2014.

Okay, in fairness, a lot of that has to do with height. Like those three, Cangelosi stands well below the invisible line of where a casual fan’s stereotypical hockey player would stand. A lot of it also has to do with style of play—Cangelosi, like that once-in-a-generation trio, is speedy and scores in high volumes. He’s the kind of player the new NHL wants.

But York’s reasoning goes beyond size and skill. Those three were all leaders. They made BC what it was in the years they played. Cangelosi is no exception to that mold. After playing a role on the third line in the final year of the Gaudreau era, Cangelosi has been the Eagles’ leading scorer over the last two years. In his 2016-17 senior campaign, Cangelosi amassed 21 goals and 14 assists while capturing his second-consecutive faceoff winning percentage crown. Though the year was ultimately trying for BC fans—the Eagles missed the NCAA Tournament for only the third time since 2000—York poses another question: Where would they have been without him?  

“Clearly, he was our most valuable player,” York said of Cangelosi, The Heights’ Male Athlete of the Year. “He’s my choice for my MVP.”

***

If Andy and Diane Cangelosi had their way, really, who knows where BC would have been.

Cangelosi’s parents moved him and his brother, John, from their home in New Jersey to Estero, Fla. in 2002. Ideally, the Cangelosi boys would follow the same path as the rest of their family: the summer sport route. Diane played tennis at Fairleigh Dickinson, and Andy was on the rugby team at Villanova and continues to play golf now. Even their grandfathers were athletes—Andy’s father John played catcher at Florida State, while Diane’s father Ed was a table tennis champion in Austria.

Unfortunately for the parents, Google Maps wasn’t around for them to scout out the neighborhood in advance. The Cangelosis moved only five minutes away from Germain Arena, home of the ECHL’s Florida Everblades and Lee County’s premier ice hockey rink. The boys, who had grown up playing roller hockey up north, graduated to the only frozen water worth skating on in southwest Florida. Austin and John milked as much as they could out of the fledgling, early-2000s hockey scene down South. But given the lack of competitiveness, there’s only so much a player can get out of it, especially if he or she wants to go pro.

“Not trying to knock on Florida,” John said, “but the hockey is way better up North.”

So when John, three years Austin’s senior, was old enough, he made the trip to Western Massachusetts to join head coach Tom Pratt at one of the nation’s best prep schools, Northfield Mount Hermon.

John’s move up north paved the way for his brother to find an out. In turn, Cangelosi was a talent Pratt just couldn’t ignore. Playing the brothers on the same line, Pratt saw in Cangelosi a terrific penalty killer who could excel as a two-way player while also sitting at the top of the umbrella on the power play, even as a freshman. Cangelosi had quick hands and a low center of gravity. Though he initially deferred to John on the draw and preferred the wing, Cangelosi easily adjusted to Pratt’s system. And boy, did he have some jump on the ice. No one could outskate him.

“He can close a 3-foot, 5-foot, 7-foot gap really quickly,” Pratt said.

Pratt quickly realized that if he couldn’t ignore Cangelosi’s talent, colleges soon wouldn’t be able to either. He made a call to York, his coach back during his playing days at Bowling Green, to get an assistant out past the Berkshires, ASAP.

“I knew quite clearly that Austin would be an attractive player for a number of schools, so I wanted to give Boston College a heads-up early,” Pratt said.

Enticed by the detail with which Pratt described him, Connecticut head coach and then-BC assistant Mike Cavanaugh came out to see Cangelosi. A week later, associate head coach Greg Brown was in the stands too. Not long after that, Pratt pulled Cangelosi into his office—the BC staff had seen all it needed to see, and was ready to make an offer, just halfway through Cangelosi’s freshman season.  

“He drops the bomb that Jerry talked to him and offered him a full scholarship to school,” Cangelosi said. “I had no intentions of thinking that far in the future, I was just trying to take it day-by-day, and all of a sudden, I get this offer for college.”

When York came calling, so did other schools—Cangelosi recalled Northeastern, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire among the programs that showed interest. But one visit to Chestnut Hill and a tradition of winning and excellence were all he needed to be convinced.  

***

When York is convinced, so are the fans.

Grant Salzano, one of the hockey beat reporters for SB Nation’s BC Interruption and BC ’10, recalled the first moment he was really excited about Cangelosi.

“Austin came in with some weighty expectations, and frankly, a lot of that was because of a single play he made while in the USHL,” Salzano said in an email.

He saw a clip on YouTube in which Cangelosi’s USHL team, the Youngstown Phantoms, took on the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in the 2012 Eastern Conference Playoffs. Tied 3-3 in overtime, Cangelosi skated past center ice into the faces of three defensemen. Knowing that, with his stature, he’d never get around them, Cangelosi flipped the puck over the head of the lead blue liner. The defenseman swatted it with his hand, but the deflection fell behind him. With that great closing speed, Cangelosi skated easily around him on the right to go backhanded, high past the goaltender’s right, for the game-winning goal. The video has been played nearly 700,000 times.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkZE0ldxiE8

Funny enough, it’s the same exact moment York cited as when he knew Cangelosi was his man.

“That was our validation point that we’ve got the right guy coming to the Heights,” York said.

But, as Salzano noted, that goal, as well as the success of smaller skaters in York’s system, may have unfairly placed too high of a belief in Cangelosi to be “the next one” in the season immediately following Gaudreau’s Hobey campaign. After a down sophomore year, in which BC failed to come close to the high-flying offense of 2014-15, many of the frustrations fell onto Cangelosi’s shoulders.

Things changed in 2015-16, when the reinforcements arrived. The star-studded freshman class, including Miles Wood and Colin White, as well as the continued development of Alex Tuch and Zach Sanford, took the pressure off Cangelosi to be the focal point of the offense. That, Salzano believes, helped Cangelosi focus on his game.

And, while he continued to score plentifully, his game grew around the faceoff.

His exploits in that field have already been documented. But, amazingly enough, Cangelosi somehow got better than being the nation’s best.

Cangelosi won faceoffs in 2016-17 at a whopping .650 clip, best in the country again. That mark was .3 higher than the next closest center, Matt Marcinew of Denver—he was also the only Eagle in the top-100 nationally. When BC was in the defensive zone and needed to hang on to a one-goal lead, Cangelosi instilled confidence that he could shut the game down. No player in recent memory has been as good at one singular, specialized skill as he has.

“Knowing we had his faceoff skills also always made me breathe easier,” said Laura Berestecki, BCI’s editor-in-chief and BC ’13, BC Law ’16, in an email.

His faceoffs continually set up goals, too. BCI’s Joe Gravellese, BC ’10, referenced this year’s Frozen Fenway, in which a struggling Eagles team on the opposite side of the PairWise Rankings leaned on Cangelosi to bail them out. He perfectly set up Michael Kim to rip home a game-tying goal.  

“That turned the game around and BC went on to pick up the W,” Gravellese said in an email.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6XFSoeNigs

He provided a plethora of other memories too. Gravellese remembers Cangelosi’s first home-opener, when he scored two goals in a 9-2 blowout of Wisconsin. Berestecki recalls Cangelosi’s natural hat trick this season in Portland. All three can’t help but think about his prowess on the penalty shot, particularly the one he potted last season against Boston University.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmspwNOlrps

And all of those memories make Cangelosi harder to let go.

“Jerry talked a lot this year about how this was one of his favorite teams to coach, even though they had some struggles through the middle of the season,” Gravellese said. “I’m not in the locker room but I’m guessing Cangelosi is a huge reason for that—his leadership, his drive, and his continued progression was fun to watch.”

***

As Kentucky’s John Calipari likes to remind us, winning in college isn’t the primary goal. It’s getting your guys to the next level.

York doesn’t ascribe to that same level of one-and-done obsession. Still, he understands the importance of preparing his players to get to the NHL. Normally, it’s easy enough when you bring in a revolving door of first-round picks. Yet York actually thinks it’s a blessing that Cangelosi didn’t get drafted.

“As a free agent, he had a bunch of choices of them,” York said. “If you’re not going to be a first rounder, that’s the better route to go through.”

And, according to York, a player like Cangelosi is perfect for the the new NHL. The first- and second-line talent still trends toward those overall athletes, the 6-footers like Alexander Ovechkin and John Tavares who have size and skill to match. But the third- and fourth-line guys are no longer the goons, the enforcers there to entertain the crowds and eat up minutes by punching Sidney Crosby in the face. Now, teams want to get smaller and faster with specialists.

That’s where Cangelosi comes in. With his faceoff and penalty killing expertise, Cangelosi is a perfect fit at the end of the bench to provide a boost late in a game. York figured this out long ago. He’s just glad general managers have wised up.

“Now, the NHL is putting more value on that kind of player,” York said. “It took them a while to understand that.”

And if Cangelosi does make it to the NHL one day, that locker room is in for quite a treat. When preparing for a game, Cangelosi leads by silent example, the way he has been since high school.

“Jerry will probably tell you it took him three and a half years for him to say much,” Pratt said.

Off the ice, though, Cangelosi is just like any other BC student. Like many of us, he sweated out room selection day, when he, Ryan Fitzgerald, Matthew Gaudreau, and Chris Calnan were among the first men’s hockey group to win the Mod lottery and be allowed in since York became the coach. And he enjoys eating out, a lot, according to his former roommate.

“He loves to down his sushi and Cookie Monster,” said Thatcher Demko, the BC goaltender from 2014-16, calling in from the links in his hometown of San Diego, Calif.

Cangelosi confirmed his obsession for Yamato’s and White Mountain’s signature flavor. The guys in his grade would go once a week last year, crushing spicy tuna rolls and ice cream by the pint. He didn’t mention, however, his other secret obsession.

“He’s got good tango skills, he’s got good rhythm there,” Demko said of Cangelosi’s other special skill. “You’ve got to throw that in the article.”

Demko, however, could not confirm if Cangelosi’s dancing skills help him on the ice.

***
On that drive back to Boston, Cangelosi detailed his daily schedule. Now, it’s a lot of early nights and early mornings.

Just a few days after BC’s season came to an end in the Hockey East semifinals, Cangelosi signed with the Albany Devils. As York suggested, Cangelosi loved the opportunity to pick where he got to play. There’s a little bit of bias there, too. The leadership of the Devils’ front office consists of two BC parents: Ray Shero and Tom Fitzgerald. Because of his New Jersey roots, Cangelosi has always been a fan of the red and black, and as he says, why not suit up for your favorite team?

His days are even more structured now. During his abbreviated professional stay, he lived in a Residence Inn near the Times Union Center. A lot of other players there for only a short time, like BC alums Steve Santini and Miles Wood, make it a dorm atmosphere, just like what he’s used to in Chestnut Hill. Every day, he has to get ready for a 9 a.m. meeting, before an hour and a half practice. The day ends by noon, when Cangelosi can get back to his room and return to schoolwork and studying. He’s still on track to graduate this May from the Lynch School of Education.

Like college, the professional season is now over for Cangelosi. His Devils lost to the Toronto Marlies in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Nevertheless, he’ll be ready for Devils training camp Sept. 10 in Newark. But he’s still got a few more days in Chestnut Hill. And, on that drive, he couldn’t help but notice that he was making such good time.

“Just glad I decided to take this route,” Cangelosi said.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

Point/Counterpoint: What’s Worse, Being Blown out or Losing Close Games?

The Closer, The Better

Andy Backstrom | Asst. Sports Editor 

Bryant Crawford didn’t even see him coming. Ky Bowman crept across the paint, leapt in the air and swatted the Demon Deacon guard’s shot out of bounds. For Bowman—Boston College men’s basketball’s most valuable player—it was yet another electrifying play. That is, until he hit the hardwood. The All-ACC Freshman landed awkwardly, damaging cartilage in his right knee.

Bowman lay face down on the court, pounding his fist against the ground in frustration. Immediately, Jordan Chatman, Jerome Robinson, Connar Tava, and A.J. Turner came to his side. But they weren’t the only ones worrying.

You could hear a pin drop in the Barclays Center.

While team doctors worked with the stationary Bowman, ESPN’s broadcast showcased two Eagles fans. Both locked their respective hands together at eye level as they watched the red-headed phenom struggle to fully extend his leg. Whether they were praying or not, they most certainly were concerned.

In the moment, the injury was the worst thing that could have happened to BC. Without Bowman, the Eagles had no chance in the ACC Tournament, let alone versus Wake Forest. Yet, as horrible as it was, it can be seen as a sign of progress.

One year removed from infamy, head coach Jim Christian fielded a team that, despite only winning two conference games, played North Carolina, Duke, and Notre Dame down to the wire. Fans took notice and genuinely invested in the team.

Remember, this is a group that sported full-on Bowman wigs when the Eagles hosted then-No. 9 North Carolina on Jan. 21. To wear a ridiculous Ronald McDonald-esque head dress like that, you have to be passionate about the team you’re rooting for.

So when Bowman went down, fans were not only anxious about his leg, but also about the future of the team—something that before this season remained a complete mystery, and quite frankly was irrelevant to many.

During the 2015-16 season, the program was in complete disarray. While the team may have only lost twice more than it did this year, it dropped conference games by an average of 17 points—6.3 more than the 2016-17 Eagles’ margin of defeat. With the exception of BC’s three-point loss to UNC and a couple of games down the stretch, every ACC game on the schedule ended in a blowout.

There was no incentive for fans to drag themselves to Conte Forum. Every game was guaranteed to pad the loss column. And with two Frozen Four-bound hockey teams, there was no need to subject themselves to a team that was cemented at the cellar of its conference.

Not to mention that BC’s leading scorer was a fifth-year transfer. Eli Carter logged 16 points per game, and was best known for his game-high 26 points against the Tar Heels. Sure, Carter was entertaining, but the bottomline was that he wasn’t there to stay.

Since BC is in the ACC, there is always the expectation that it will play the highest level of competition. And for the most part, that remains true. But when Christian’s injury-ridden crew was losing games by 20 left and right, the conference’s best didn’t put on the show fans might have been looking forward to.

The same was true for this year’s football team. For instance, take the Louisville game. Lamar Jackson accounted for seven total touchdowns, but only played three quarters. When he did score, it wasn’t flashy or suspenseful—it usually consisted of the future Heisman Trophy winner finding open space in the Eagles defense, either on the ground or in the air, for an easy score. And as soon as he was pulled, fans piled out of Alumni Stadium.

It makes sense. Star players shine when their team needs them the most. Yeah, the Brandon Ingrams of the conference may have put up numbers against the Eagles, but that doesn’t come close to the thrill of seeing Justin Jackson drill one after another from beyond the arc to finish a tightly contested game.

On the other hand, Christian’s team brought out the best of its opponents. And whether you’re a diehard Superfan or just a casual attendee, that’s all you can ask for.

BC blew five halftime leads this season—three of which came in the final seven games. As frustrating as that is, it provides promise. For the pace Christian has BC playing—the 42nd fastest offense in the country—players are going to get tired. Right now, the Eagles simply don’t have the depth to back up that game plan.

But every time underclassmen Bowman, Robinson, or Chatman went for 20-plus points, there was a sense of hope tied to their performance. Even if BC ended up falling, it got fans thinking, “Well, if only we had one more piece.” I like to believe that recruits around the country were thinking along the same lines.

All but three Eagles will return for next season. A team built on youth and potential, BC’s 16 ACC losses this year showed that it is nearing a turnaround. Now, Christian has to use that to his advantage. Just like he did with Bowman and Robinson, the third-year head coach must coax recruits to embrace the underdog role. He has more evidence now than ever to pitch to prospective players that they, individually, could be the program’s missing piece.

The fact that the Eagles were hanging with the nation’s top teams warrants respect. Last season, they were the laughing stock of college basketball. But with arguably the most explosive backcourt in the ACC, BC has transformed into a legitimate threat. It may not be consistent, but a threat it is.

Christian came into the season with two point guards leading the offense: Ty Graves and Bowman. Graves was a perimeter shooter, and Bowman looked like someone who should have stuck to football, turning the ball over 10 times in the first 61 minutes of his career.

But as soon as Bowman dyed his hair red, his play jumped to another level. Graves transferred and Bowman teamed up with Robinson to establish a lethal one-two punch.

Through 23 losses—six of which were decided by six points or less—Christian’s group found its identity. That’s a whole lot better than headlining SportsCenter as the first team to go winless in the ACC since the 1986-87 season.

Painless Defeats Are Best

Tom DeVoto | Heights Senior Staff

One of my favorite sports memories came in 2008, when I watched former Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas sing his favorite song—Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes”—minutes after the Phils clinched the World Series.

It remains the only title I’ve seen one of my favorite teams win, and Kalas’ voice was the soundtrack to the summers of my youth, so it meant a lot to me.

I’ll be honest, though—I’ve never liked the lyrics to “High Hopes.”

If you’re unfamiliar, the song is about various animals that try to do something basically impossible, but they keep trying, because they have—you guessed it—high hopes. An ant, for example, tries to move a rubber tree plant. Can’t tell you what a rubber tree plant is, but it sounds heavy and that ant probably shouldn’t be moving it.   

I hate getting my hopes up, because after 21-plus years of this thing called life, I know what happens when I get my hopes up.

High hopes result in nothing but disappointment. Expectations yield heartbreak. I hate heartbreak. The solution? Don’t expect anything, and don’t get your hopes up.

Is it easier to have loved and lost, or never to have loved at all?   

Uh, easy—the latter.

If you expect nothing, and you get nothing, then everything is fine. If you expect something and you get something, then that’s great, but that is quite rare.

If you expect something and get nothing, as I have been known to do, there is emotional hell to pay. And all too often, sports teams rope me in and make me expect something great, only to have the exact opposite happen.  

Feb. 6, 2005. The Philadelphia Eagles made their first Super Bowl appearance in over two decades against the New England Patriots. It was a back-and-forth, seesaw battle, and the Eagles had chances to win, but mismanaged the clock at the end of the game and lost by three points.

Jan. 2, 2012. The Philadelphia Flyers took on the New York Rangers in the Winter Classic. The Flyers took a two-goal lead in the second period, but gave up three consecutive Ranger goals to find themselves trailing late. After a penalty was called on Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh for covering the puck in the crease with just seconds on the clock, Flyers forward Danny Brière was awarded a penalty shot. The stadium was raucous, but he missed. The Flyers lost what was way more than just a regular season game.

April 10, 2014. In his final game in a BC uniform, Johnny Gaudreau and BC men’s hockey get outdueled by Union College in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals. The Eagles close a late two-goal gap to just one on two separate occasions in the last two minutes, but it’s not enough to overcome a stronger game from the Dutchmen.

Nov. 22, 2014. BC football hit the road to take on No. 3 Florida State. The teams were tied late in the fourth quarter in what has remained BC’s best chance to upend a top-five team under head coach Steve Addazio. BC had the ball deep in FSU’s territory with less than five minutes on the clock, but an incomplete pass on a trick play where the ball bounced off the hands of quarterback Tyler Murphy and a missed field goal doomed the Eagles. The Seminoles marched up the field, kicked a game-winning field goal, and sent BC packing.

March 20, 2016. BC women’s hockey had won 40-straight games to start the season and cruised to the National Championship against the University of Minnesota. In what represented BC’s best shot at a title in any sport since men’s hockey won it all in 2012, the Eagles were outmatched against the Gophers and suffered their first defeat of the season.     

Many of my most vivid sports memories, regardless of the importance of the game, are heart-wrenching, gut-twisting losses. That certainly says something about the teams I’ve chosen to support, but it also says something about the agony of defeat.

I’d like to win, of course. But if I’m going to lose, I want it to be as painless as possible.

If I could guarantee beforehand that BC men’s basketball would go on a miracle run to the ACC Championship, only to lose on a buzzer beater against Duke, I wouldn’t be able to handle the emotional roller coaster. It’s tough to say out loud, but I’d probably prefer BC’s actual path in this year’s tournament.

A wise woman (or man, depending on the version of the song you prefer) once said, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone?” Yes, it always do seem to go like that.

It’s much easier on the soul to be completely ignorant of what joy feels like than to have it for a fleeting moment and get your heart ripped out of your chest.

Don’t get your hopes up, kids. Don’t root for blowouts by any means, but they’re not as bad as you might think.

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor

Brand Loyalty: Chris Calnan Balances the Captaincy and Mod Life

Chris Calnan has a lot to deal with this year. As captain, he has to show 13 freshmen the way things go while picking up a big chunk of the departing offensive firepower. Yet, the biggest accomplishment of his senior year came as a junior, and he’s got ResLife to thank for it. He and some other teammates make up the first senior men’s hockey class to reside in The Mods in many, many years.

Calnan lights up talking about when they got that pick time. He thinks it was about 4:30, and they had to go run and ask head coach Jerry York for his permission to pull the trigger. He granted it, but then came the hard part: convincing the team chaplain. Thankfully for Calnan, the chaplain took mercy.

“It was wicked funny,” Calnan said, laughing. “Once he announced it to the team that we had a Mod, it was bananas.”

As for why Boston College needed 13 freshmen this year, well, York and his staff play with fire, and they got first-degree burns this summer. BC men’s hockey lost a lot of top players this offseason, because BC recruits NHL-level talent. NHL trends affect what happens at Kelley Rink, and a confluence of circumstances caused BC to lose Thatcher Demko, Ian McCoshen, Steve Santini, Adam Gilmour, Miles Wood, Alex Tuch, and Zach Sanford.

Whether his players stick around is partially out of York’s hands. Since the 2004-05 lockout, the NHL has clamped down on clutching and grabbing that impedes a skater’s progress, while also de-emphasizing fighting and general goonery. Per a TSN study, fighting majors per game have been cut in half since 2008-09. Boarding majors are down about 40 percent as well. There’s now an arms race to de-goon rosters. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Los Angeles Kings possess eight of the previous nine Stanley Cups. All of those teams roll four lines deep of skilled players. The Penguins, the defending champions, are best known for their speed. NHL general managers need to adapt, and the ones that fail to have gotten fired, or will get fired, only to be replaced by an enlightened executive who understands the need to keep up with the Joneses/Penguins.

To get the speed to compete with such teams, NHL teams turn to the kids, whose coaches no longer have to worry about them getting punished by so-called enforcers. The young players, so far, have rewarded their bosses. According to The Globe and Mail, the percentage of even-strength minutes played by skaters in the 18-20, 21-23, and 24-26 age brackets have all jumped since 2005, and the percentage of minutes is down for all age brackets over 27. Per another TSN study, over the last 10 seasons, the percentage of top-50 point-getters in the league that were under the age of 28 has jumped from 40 percent to 60 percent. For the under-24 demographic, it has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent.

NHL teams also need to get younger in a less Darwinian sense, too. Thanks to a sluggish Canadian dollar, the NHL’s salary cap has stayed relatively stagnant the last few seasons, rising by just $2 million each year. Young, fresh-out-of-college players have few rights under the current collective bargaining agreement, and must sign entry-level contracts at the outset of their careers. For instance, former BC star Johnny Gaudreau nearly put up a point per game last season for the Calgary Flames and made less than $1 million.

In this context, it’s not surprising that teams rush to sign their young stars. The most important reason, though, is the fear that their top prospects will go the route of another former BC star: Kevin Hayes.

Drafted in the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks out of Noble and Greenough in 2010, Hayes struggled relative to expectations during his first three seasons on the Heights. He bounced back from an injury-riddled junior year to blow up his senior year for 65 points, and then waited until August 2014 for his Blackhawks rights to expire so he could be free to entertain offers from other NHL teams. The New York Rangers landed him, and Hayes rewarded them with 81 points in 158 games.

The 2016 Hobey Baker winner, Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey, ditched the team that drafted him—the Nashville Predators—to throw his name into free agency. He, too, waited until August  to follow in Hayes’s footsteps to Madison Square Garden. The Predators threw a public fit, saying that Vesey got “bad advice and bad counsel,” according to The Tennessean. Vesey and Hayes both made the team that drafted them look like a spurned lover, which is probably a big reason that so many of BC’s good players got gobbled up before they could even think about going that route.

Two years after they drafted Hayes, the Blackhawks drafted another big forward out of Noble and Greenough: Calnan. Now BC’s captain, Calnan has to deal with the ramifications of the Eagles’ offseason exodus.

“Just got a lot of freshmen to deal with,” Calnan said of the 13 newcomers called upon to replace the likes of Demko and McCoshen. “Gonna be pretty crazy.”

Calnan knows that all those freshmen are watching him all the time, and he doesn’t take that burden lightly. For leadership lessons, the Norwell, Mass., native looks outside of the team for guidance, though York is definitely OK with where Calnan gets those insights.

“Definitely the [New England] Patriots,” Calnan said, while specifying Patriots’ captain Matthew Slater as a particularly admirable leader because Slater “brings it every single time.”  

“It’s crazy how much Coach York loves the Patriots,” he continued. “We have a ‘quote of the day’ and half of them are Bill Belichick.”

It’s a lot of responsibility for a senior who’s still recovering from shoulder and ankle injuries that derailed his junior season. York needs Calnan to steer the freshmen while picking up a chunk of the production that left with those now-former Eagles. Just like Hayes did after his junior year was cut short by injury, Calnan looks forward to contributing more than he ever has. The captain posted a career-high 16 points his sophomore year, and wants to easily top that this winter.

“I have a lot more I can do this season. I’ll be in a bigger role, because a lot of guys signed and left early, which stinks every time it happens,” Calnan said. “The team’s gonna need me offensively a lot more this year, and I’m ready to step into that role, be an all-around guy and contribute offensively this year and put up some numbers.

“You need the offensive presence, and we lost a lot of size. You look at Miles [Wood], Tuch, Sanford, Gilmour, and those guys are 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, and once you lose that, I think I’m the only one around here 6-foot-3 up front now. You need that physical presence, so I can fill that.”

When a 6-foot-3 former third-round pick puts up numbers at a place like BC, NHL teams notice. If Calnan does what he believes he’s capable of doing, he will have options. In fact, Calnan has known Vesey and Hayes from a young age. He admires how they took advantage of the business to do what was best for their futures, by putting it into their own hands, not just by choosing a team but by playing up to a level in which they were desired by many. Though Calnan respects their decisions, he said his mind is made up.  

“Obviously, we’ll see how the season ends up for me,” Calnan said, “but Chicago has been great to me, very respectful, and I plan on signing with them after the season ends.”

The future of BC hockey players’ senior housing, the Eagles’ fate on the ice, and Calnan’s professional prospects all hang in the balance this year. Yet Calnan is relieved, if anything, because he no longer has to worry about his shoulder popping out when he goes into corners, or his ankle slowing him down. He also couldn’t wait to finally get “back out with the boys” at the next day’s practice, but didn’t want to talk about much beyond that. He’s taking his big year one day at time. He’s Jerry York’s captain, after all. But unlike the captains before him, he’s going out in style—in a Mod.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

Comm Ave Classic Raises Thousands For ALS Foundation

Billed as the first annual Comm Ave Classic, a reasonably competitive exhibition between notable Boston College and Boston University hockey alumni at a Walter Brown Arena raised $55,250 for the Compassionate Care ALS foundation while injuring zero participants.

Those two figures made this unique midsummer classic, which honored ALS patients and Pete Frates, BC ’09, as well as late assistant athletic director for media relations Dick Kelley, BC ’87, a success. The NCAA-ineligible Terriers defeated the NCAA-ineligible Eagles 7-5 in a game that made up for a lack of physicality with few stoppages in play and no commercial breaks, sending the audience home happy and earlier than expected.

BC head coach Jerry York’s roster of former Eagles spanned nearly two decades of graduation classes and was bookended by Hall of Famer and Hobey Baker Finalist Brian Leetch, BC ’87 and 2014 Hobey Baker Winner Johnny Gaudreau, BC ’15. Those two treated the crowd to some short and long-term nostalgia when Leetch assisted on Gaudreau’s first period goal.

Leetch, whom will be available for over-50 age men’s leagues in need of a power play quarterback in just three years, fed Bill Arnold, BC ’14, in the slot, and Arnold gave a no look backhand pass to former linemate at the back post. Gaudreau buried it, presumably because Kevin Hayes, BC ’14, was on the ice at the time as well and that trio needed to produce a goal together or else the game would not have been realistic enough.

In the third and final 17-minute frame, players on both sides ratcheted up the competitiveness. There was less cherry picking for breakaways and a lot more defense. With BC down 5-4, Gaudreau showed why he received the biggest cheer of all the Eagles during introductions by tossing a two line, cross ice saucer pass to Hayes, which lead to the tying goal off the stick of, of course, Arnold.

Unfortunately for York, he had just four defensemen at his disposal and three of them, Mike Mottau, BC ’00, Leetch, and Greg Brown, BC ’90 are long retired from professional hockey. This lead to all five BC skaters being forwards occasionally, and one of those instances lead to a BU odd man rush that resulted in Will O’Neill’s (whom somehow went to Maine) game-winning goal with 1:52 left. York’s squad made a push thereafter, even becoming visibly aggrieved after a questionable offsides call went against them, before Charlie Coyle BU ’14 iced the game for the Terriers with an empty netter. The combative finish to the night enhanced an already worthwhile experience for all involved.

The non-aforementioned BC alumni that participated in the Comm Ave Classic were Cory Schneider, BC ’08, Brian Dumoulin, BC ’13, Stephen Gionta, BC ’06, Jimmy Hayes, BC ’12, Brian Boyle, BC ’07, Joe Whitney, BC ’11, Brian Gibbons, BC ’11, Chris Kreider, BC ’13, Dave Spina, BC ’05, Paul Carey, BC ’12, Patrick Brown, BC ’14, and John Muse, BC ’11.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Senior Staff

TU/TD: Hats Off

Thumbs Up

Hat Tricks – Ryan Fitzgerald lit the lamp three times on Saturday, singlehandedly leading the scoring charge to top a pesky UConn team. Fitzgerald’s offensive explosion has the Eagles right on the edge of a tournament birth, and his trio of goals was the first for a BC player since…

Johnny  All-Star – Of course. Everyone’s favorite diminutive hockey player was the last Eagle to score a hat trick. Johnny Hockey’s talents (and sense of humor) were on full display this past weekend at the NHL All-Star Game in Columbus. Bonus points for the idea to light his stick
on fire during the Skills Competition, but a big thumbs-down to the NHL for nixing it in the name of safety.

Conference Wins – It wasn’t easy, but BC men’s basketball squeaked out a road victory against the worst team in the ACC, Georgia Tech. Considering this was BC’s first conference win of the year, we’ll take them however they come.

Upset City, Baby – Down go the Dukies! Women’s basketball pulled off the biggest upset of the year thus far for BC, topping the No. 15 Blue Devils by a score of 60-56. Dick Vitale would be devastated, but we’re OK with that.

Thumbs Down

409 – Following the announcement that former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno would have his vacated wins restored, the PSU community celebrated like it just won the national championship. Did they forget why the wins were vacated in the first place?

Pro Bowl – The week before the Super Bowl is filled with boredom, and the Pro Bowl does nothing to change that. In fact, it might make it even more boring. How long do we have to wait before someone decides to end this train wreck?

Kelley Rink Press Box – It’s small, and with the lack of elbow room, we feel like velociraptors trying to hack away at a keyboard. And we need the neck of Brontosaurus to see the ice over the computer screen.

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor

Finding Answers And Endings In Weaaaahhhlll Killlll Yuhhh!

“How do y’all think you say that?” drawls our raggedy-bearded, rotund bus driver, gesturing toward the glowing Wakulla Inn & Suites sign. It’s of Indian origin, he declares, but the locals apparently developed their own pronunciation. “Weaaaahhhlll killlll yuhhh!” he bellows, cracking up before the last of the “uhhhs” can escape his throat. Decidedly amused by the joke, he allows for a few more chuckles before following us up into the bus. The doors swoosh shut, and he wheels us into the darkness.

With one foot on the Panhandle and the other scraping the edge of some muted oblivion, Wakulla rests 24 lonely miles from Tallahassee, lost between a Jason Isbell song and Rust Cohle’s mind. Battalions of thin, greyish trees pull upward and then burst into a horizon-defining, earthy green blanket that stretches on for ages. Midnight-black spells of unwinding back road find light in the bright reflection of high beams and the sporadic promises of Dollar Expresses and Savannah’s Country Buffet’s elusive $2 breakfast. Passing through under the cover of night, “Weaaaahhhlll killlll yuhhh!” feels empty and overwhelming, sprawling and consuming.

It’s exactly what I wanted.


Throwing a mind-numbing quote from a coach at the end of your story is almost always the easy way out. It’s the frilly bow, the dangling escape rope left to save you from the torturous process of digging in one last time to pull it all together with biting wit or lasting insight. After writing columns every week for the last two semesters, it’s tempting to say, “Hey this was great, thanks for everything, see you around.” The thought of that felt just like copping out of the finale of a story, though. A coach can tell you that they played hard and they’ll be ready for the next game, but there’s gotta something better, something deeper than that.

I left my penultimate newspaper production last Wednesday night feeling utterly tortured, my stomach pitted. Testing every inch of my pillow and staring at the ceiling for hours on end, apprehension of this final column wracked and rattled my head—what the hell do you write if you can’t figure out how you feel? Even if I wanted to tie that metaphorical bow on the last year of my life, I didn’t know where to find it. So, I stopped trying to write and started hoping one more road trip, one more adventure with our Photo Editor, Emily, would help me figure it out.

Ever since I lied to everyone and promised to dial down the weirdness in that first column back in December, being Sports Editor has reigned supreme over every other aspect of my life. It brought me to points of elation and exhaustion, took me to the Heisman Ceremony and tossed me head first out of a Web Apps class. I covered Shreveport and Philly, Johnny Gaudreau and Tyler Murphy, and lost hours of sleep grappling with layout and putting our Managing Editor, Joseph, and Layout Editor, Maggie, in fits on the wrong side of our 2 a.m. deadline. Jerry York awed me, Steve Addazio electrified and floored me, and the unending stream of scores, tweets, stories, and edits barred me from the Plex for months. I made wonderful friends I’ll never forget, and lost a few along the way. A year later, I don’t know whether or not I truly loved this job. But I do know I needed it.


Banking away from the falling sun, the plane’s windows revealed the glare of a Tallahassee sky turned golden hour dreamscape—like scoops of ice cream piled from the ground up into the sky, layers of navy piled on cerulean, which in turn crushed baby blue, leaving a light yellow tint melted into a hazy infinity on the horizon. Sometimes acknowledging the surrealism of a moment in time just increases its potency. An hour earlier, a bespectacled Addazio made his way throughout the plane, stopping to speak with each row. “Oh, you got a cookie there!?” He half-yelled to a girl six or seven rows in front of me. “That’s good for you.” It was weird, but it was sincere. It was candid—it just felt right.

These are the tiny, perfect moments that will stick with me forever. Growing up, I inhaled adventure books—Harry Potter, Eragon, Pendragon, Narnia, The Hobbit, Artemis Fowl, Ender’s Game—and a sort of hopeless romanticism, an adventurous idealism, grew within me and never quite died. Life is about the journey (so goes the saying, at least), but somewhere along the line, just the simple idea of taking the next journey became enough to keep me going in the crappiest of times. I don’t read too many adventure books these days, but writing these columns and stories gives me the same sense of solace as diving into a book from Borders and returning it two days later, pages dog-eared but the return desk staff none the wiser. Writing is an escape, a way to check out and to lock in, to absorb the moment but also to remove myself from it. After a night of reflection in the middle of somewhere, I realize The Heights gave me adventure after adventure, an endless stream of journeys to look forward to—and I am forever grateful for that.

It’s 1 a.m., this hotel room is sweltering, and in 13 hours or so, Boston College plays Florida State University in the biggest game I’ve ever covered. By the time this is online and in print, we’ll know who won, but right now, I feel at peace with whatever happens. Finishing a great book always used to make me sad. Over and over again, endings left me crushed, face first on the pillow, hoping the story would keep going. I never learned, though, and I always picked up another story. My journey as your Sports Editor is over. Assuming I make it out of “Weaaaahhhlll Killlll Yuhhh!” alive, it’s been a helluva run. I want to sincerely thank you for sharing it with me, and for staying with me no matter how weird it (I) got.

It’s time for the next adventure.

Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff

NHL Fans Can’t Agree On How Old Johnny Gaudreau Looks

Former Hobey Baker winner and star Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau logged a few minutes for the Calgary Flames last night. Pro hockey fans getting one of their first looks at Gaudreau had trouble coming to a conclusion on how old he looks.

But when you can do this, does it even matter what age you look?

Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff

Things BC Athletes Could Scream In Lower To Get Benched For One Half

In light of Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston’s one-half suspension for yelling obscenities from atop a table in the student union, accomplished sandwich rankers Austin Tedesco and Connor Mellas have compiled a list of phrases BC athletes could scream in Lower to receive a similar punishment.

  • Frank Spaziani is the real King of the Dudes.
Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff
Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff
  • Jerry York should go back to Bowling Green.
  • Andre Williams is soft.
  • Brad Bates uses Rogaine.
Emily Fahey / Heights Editor
Emily Fahey / Heights Editor
  • UConn fans are actually quite pleasant.
  • Does anyone even care about the stupid Beanpot?
  • These Under Armour backpacks are trash.
  • BU Hockey players are really just misunderstood.
  • I hope Sonny Milano has a great season in the OHL.
  • Tyler Murphy needs to throw the ball more.
cfbstats.com
cfbstats.com
  • Screw it, we’ll never be good enough for Notre Dame to admit we’re their rival.
  • Hockey East refs are totallllly fair with their officiating of Steve Santini.
  • Retire the gold sweaters.
Emily Fahey / Heights Editor
Emily Fahey / Heights Editor
  • I eat sesame seed pretzels before every game and THEY ARE DELICIOUS.
  • Luke Kuechly only makes garbage tackles.
  • Thatcher Demko sucks at life and goaltending. Sieve.
Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff
Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff
  • I love the Conte Forum playlist.
  • Oh baby, you, you don’t got what I need.
  • Rhett makes Baldwin look lame.
  • Union has a stronger hockey program than BC.
Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff
Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff

Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff

The Highs And Lows Of BC Athletics: 2013-14

In no particular order, here are some of the ups and downs of BC sports from 2013-14.

1) The Super Line:

Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold, and Kevin Hayes combined for 134 points as the most dangerous line in college hockey this season. All three were top-five scorers in NCAA DI hockey, with Gaudreau and Hayes coming in first and second. The same went for assists, with Gaudreau in first, Arnold tied for second, and Hayes in fourth.

2) Luck of the Eagles:

Isaac Normesinu slalomed through Notre Dame’s defense to open the scoring with a stunning individual effort from more than 18 yards out. While Harrison Shipp, who now plies his trade for the Chicago Fire, struck back seconds later, Ed Kelly’s team held on to tie the then-No. 2 team and eventual College Cup winners, 1-1.

3) Upstate upset:

No. 1 Syracuse was 25-0 coming into its matchup with an Eagles team grieving the loss of Dick Kelley that had lost five straight games. While Boston College had fallen to the Orange one month earlier, the Eagles came back after being down in the second half. The win was a bright spot for a squad that won just eight games.

4) Donahue’s demise:

Under Steve Donahue, the men’s basketball team lost 24 games in 2013-14, the largest single-season loss total in program history. With the teams’ season concluding after a crushing overtime loss at the hands of Georgia Tech, the athletic department made the decision to fire Donahue less than one week after the defeat.

5) Golden Girl:

McKenzie Meehan hit teams for 20 goals in 23 games for the BC women’s soccer team, before netting six goals at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championships. BC was helped to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight by the play of the sophomore striker, while the Americans won the gold medal and qualified for The World Cup.

6) Series sweeping:

The Eagles, who were 14-27 going into a three-game series with Maryland, took all three games from the Terps for their first series sweep since 2012. Led by Chris Shaw, who was six for 11 at the plate, and Andrew Chin, John Gorman, and Jeff Burke on the mound, the Eagles outscored the Terps 17-7, finishing the series with the Wounded Warrior game.

7) #andre44heisman:

Andre Williams started all 13 games for Boston College, grinding out 2,177 yards on 355 carries, the fifth most single-season rushing yards in NCAA history. He recorded a game-high, conference-record 339 yards against NC State, won the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best running back, and finished in fourth as a Heisman finalist.

8) Philly freeze-out:

The Eagles, after beating UMass Lowell in the Northeast Regional, advanced to Philadelphia and the Frozen Four only to be stopped in their tracks by eventual champion Union. The 5-4 loss was a fight to the finish, with three goals scored in the last two minutes of play, but the Eagles were unable to complete their comeback.

9) Slammin’ Speer:

Tory Speer has led the softball team in its first winning season since 2008 through her play in the batter’s box and behind the plate. The senior captain set a new program record for career home runs, when she tallied her 38th in the team’s first sweep of the season against Virginia. Speer’s captaincy has spurred BC to a 29-19 mark so far.

10) Shreveport blues:

After becoming bowl eligible to end a two-year absence from postseason play, the football team traveled to the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl. Pitted up against Ka’Deem Carey and the Arizona Wildcats, the Eagles struggled to get anything going offensively. Steve Addazio’s first season in charge ended in a 42-19 loss with a 7-6 record.

The King Has Gone, Yet The Kingdom Lives On

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