BC Men's Ice Hockey: a tale of twos

Boston College Men's Ice Hockey Season Roundup

October 13, 2012 – March 30, 2013

Here lies the hope, promise, and heartbreak of the 2012-2013 BC hockey team.

How could a team that pulled off 10 straight wins in the first two months of the season go on to finish its season 22-12-5 en route to a first round exit from the Frozen Four tournament?

It’s quite simple, you see. All of those twos in the record stand for more than just wins and losses. The number two symbolizes all that went wrong with this season.

Two – as in the number of key injuries suffered by BC, to Patch Alber and Kevin Hayes. Alber, one of only three returning defensemen from the previous season, was out for three months after he was forced to have corrective knee surgery on Jan. 1st. The loss of Alber coincided with the beginning of a streak of inconsistency for the Eagles and his return at playoff time was too little, too late. In mid-February, Hayes showed just how important he is when he was pulled out of the lineup for the rest of the season due to a leg injury. The junior wing and center still finished third on the team with assists, despite missing eleven games. His playmaking abilities were sorely missed and his absence forced Coach York to tamper with his forward lines.

Two – as in the number of detached retinas that plagued Jerry York. The winningest coach in NCAA history had to miss a number of games due to his multiple hospitalizations. His calm, cool, and collected demeanor was something BC could have used in a few of its games toward the end of the season in which they were rattled early on and were unable to regain their composure – like the Hockey East semifinals against BU.

Hopefully, nothing else will keep Jerry from his usual spot behind the bench. Photo courtesy of flickr/560XLS

Hopefully, nothing else will keep Jerry from his usual spot behind the bench.
Photo courtesy of flickr/560XLS

Two – as in the number of Colin Sullivan. The freshman defenseman and Montreal Canadian product began the year looking like the NCAA’s best third pairing D-man. The stay-at-home defenseman stayed home a bit too much, though, and ended the year with just one assist and saw his minutes decline, thanks in part to an undisclosed ailment that cost him six games.

It was as if the number two had become BC’s accursed biblical numeral. Instead of writhing through 40 days and 40 nights of fasting, BC writhed through two agonizing home losses to the Maine Black Bears. That weekend against Maine provided a glimpse of just how flappable this young BC squad had become.

As we turn the page on this season, we realize just how little certainty we have about the 2013-2014 campaign. We know that sophomore Patrick Brown was named captain for the upcoming season, and that juniors Bill Arnold and Isaac MacLeod will flank him as assistants.

After that, the mystery of the twos continues.

Two – as in the number of key players that may bolt for the NHL this season. Johnny Gaudreau capped his sensational freshman season with an even better sophomore year, leading the team and Hockey East in scoring and leading the country in points per game. Gaudreau’s rights are currently owned by the Calgary Flames, a team now in fire sale mode in a last-effort attempt at saving the franchise. Bringing in a player like Gaudreau, a player whom many in the Calgary organization are very excited to see come up north, would ignite enthusiasm in a fan base that just saw their only exciting player – Team Captain Jarome Iginla – traded away for almost nothing.

Like Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes is also currently owned by an NHL team, the Chicago Blackhawks. For those of you who pay attention to professional hockey, Chicago certainly does not need any help winning or attracting fans. However, after falling out of line with Coach York and serving a multi-game suspension for breaking team rules, Hayes may want out of the college hockey world. Arnold (Calgary Flames) and MacLeod (San Jose Sharks) have already committed their senior seasons to BC, as evidenced by their newly appointed captaincies, and Michael Matheson (Florida Panthers) and Sullivan (Montreal Canadiens) are too young to leave BC just yet.

Kevin Hayes may choose the NHL over another season at The Heights. Photo courtesy of flickr/Bart Hanlon

Kevin Hayes may choose the NHL over another season at The Heights.
Photo courtesy of flickr/Bart Hanlon

Two – as in the number of inexperienced sophomore goaltenders battling to replace Parker Milner. Brad Barone and Brian Billett, neither of whom has seen much action thanks to Milner's play time, will be fighting for the starting goalie job next season. The competition may prove beneficial to their growth as players, but also shows just how thin BC is at this position.

Not all of BC’s twos are worrisome, though.

Two – as in the number of forward lines that may actually be scoring threats. Assuming Gaudreau and Hayes do not leave, which is a big assumption in itself, the first two forward lines will likely be Gaudreau-Arnold-Straight and Hayes-Brown-Smith. York experimented with the first trio at the end of the year, perhaps testing the waters to see if chemistry could develop for the next year. Brown, the next best center on the team, will likely slot into that position on the second line with Hayes on his left and newfound sniper Quinn Smith on his right.

After these two lines, BC is left with Michael Sit, Danny Linell, Brendan Silk, Cam Spiro and Peter McMullen. While Sit and Linell proved versatile, filling in on different lines throughout this past season, they are better suited for penalty-killing duty than for first or second line minutes. Silk, Spiro, and McMullen played sparingly and contributed just eight points between the three of them.

Two – as in the number of members of BC’s senior class, Steven Whitney and Chris Kreider – who left last year for the NHL – who will likely be seeing real, professional ice time relatively soon. Kreider is biding his time with the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate until they are able to secure a playoff spot. Whitney, who stayed for his senior season, was signed by the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL right after Union College ended BC’s season. He will likely report to their AHL team for the time being.

Photo courtesy of flickr/clydeorama

Photo courtesy of flickr/clydeorama

Two – as in the number of electrifying freshman forward recruits that are coming to the Heights in 2013, namely Chris Calnan and Ryan Fitzgerald. Calnan, a draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, tore up the competition while playing for both Nobles & Greenough and his South Shore team in the Eastern Junior Hockey League. At 6’2”, 185 lbs., Calnan could be a major force on the ice with both his size and scoring ability (35 points through 24 games with South Shore). Fitzgerald, meanwhile, is built more like fan favorite Gaudreau. The crafty, 5’8”, 160-pound forward is also playing in the EJHL, and had 25 points through 19 games for the Junior Warriors. Both forwards could make an immediate impact on the team’s lineup, and may help solve the depth issue regarding the forward corps.

Instead of mourning the season-ending loss suffered at the hands of Union College, who was bounced from the tournament in their next game against Quinnipiac, let us look forward to what the 2013-2014 season may have in store for our Boston College Eagles.

HoshiYa-Banner-Final133

 

Comments