Note: this article is geared towards freshmen or people who aren’t too familiar with the dynasty that is BC hockey, hence the "BC Hockey 101." As the winter sports season draws closer, The Gavel will be coming out with much more comprehensive preseason coverage. However, since there is no football game this weekend, we are giving those who haven’t experienced BC hockey a look at what to expect.
1) BC hockey games are amazing.
At this point, I'm sure you’ve all been to at least a couple of BC football games. Pretty cool right? Big student section, loud stadium, great marching band cheers and an all-around great atmosphere.
Now, imagine that same student section packed into the confines of Conte Forum. Amplify the noise by a few notches, picture a host of hockey-crazed, attentive locals and work in the best goal chant you’ve ever heard, and you get a BC hockey game.
Oh, and not to mention, a team that could be the best in the nation playing in front of you.
Hockey is Boston College's signature sport. Much like basketball at Georgetown or football at Ohio State, hockey is what every BC fan hangs their hat on. Year in and year out, the team is a national powerhouse, and the experience is unrivaled. You’ll know what I'm talking about the first time you hear the goal chant, or see groups of students doing their best air-fiddle to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” during the second intermission.
And the BC-BU games? They are BC's version of Ohio State-Michigan and Red Sox-Yankees. The intensity is palpable.
2) A brief reminder of the tougher rules...
For those of you who are not exactly hockey-savvy, let’s just go over a few rules that are prone to confuse even the casual fan. We aren't insulting your intelligence -- we promise.
Offsides occurs when a player of the attacking team enters the defending team’s zone, indicated by the blue line, before the puck moves across said line. If this happens, the official whistles the play dead, and a face-off occurs outside the defending zone.
This is also put into practice when a player has already entered the zone; if the puck exits the zone, then every player of the attacking team must leave the zone before the puck can re-enter.
It’s important to note that the entirety of both the puck and the player must be past the blue line for offsides to occur. So, for example, if just a fraction of the player’s skate is still touching the blue line and the puck enters the zone, he is still onside even though the majority of his body was past the line.
Icing is usually the most confusing rule for those not familiar with the game. Icing occurs when a player on the attacking team shoots the puck across both the center red line and the opposing team’s thin red goal-line, and then the puck is touched first by a member of the opposing team.
The puck must be completely behind the center red line for this to occur. If a team is called on icing, they are not allowed to make a line change during the stoppage of play, and a face-off occurs in their own defensive zone.
I understand that was complicated, so here’s a nice video so you can visualize it.
Now that the technical part of the article is over, we can move on to the story lines for the season, which is exciting because...
3) Johnny Gaudreau is money-in-the-bank.
For those unfamiliar with junior forward Johnny Gaudreau, let me sum up his accomplishments briefly. Prior to coming to BC he was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 4th round of the 2011 NHL entry draft. As a freshman, he tallied 44 points in 44 games. He followed that up with 51 points in only 35 games as a sophomore. Gaudreau finished first in the NCAA in points per game as a sophomore. He then went on to be one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker award, college hockey’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy given to the best player each season.
Johnny Gaudreau also helped lead the US World Junior National Team to the gold medal in the 2013 World Junior Championships, tallying 9 points in 7 games.
"Johnny Hockey" returns for what will likely be his last year at BC. Look for highlight-reel plays.
4) We have talented freshmen coming to campus.
One of the bigger storylines this year will be who will take over the reins of the starting goaltender position that has been vacated by the now-graduated Parker Milner.
Don’t be surprised if you see a freshman tending the pipes. Freshman goaltender Thatcher Demko already has otherworldly credentials, as he is the leading goaltending prospect for the United States National Developmental Team, and he has already posted some insane statistics against Division-1 NCAA teams, including hockey powers Notre Dame, Minnesota and New Hampshire, putting up a 2-0-3 record with a 2.26 goals against average and a .915 save percentage.
Also, keep an eye out for freshman defenseman Ian McCoshen. Aside from the fact that he’s 6-foot-3 and 203 lbs. as a freshman, he put up 44 points and a plus-35 rating in 53 games in the United States Hockey League. Plus, he was drafted 31st in the 2013 NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers this year. BC will have a first-rounder suiting up for rear-guard this season.
5) Expectations, as always, are high.
BC won the NCAA Division I Championship in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Though they lost their second and third leading scorers last year, along with a starting defenseman and their starting goaltender, this team expects to contend for another national championship.
The Eagles have the coach with the most active NCAA Division I wins in Jerry York, arguably the best player in college hockey in Johnny Gaudreau and the yearly championship hope that the program carries with its name year after year.
All eyes look forward to Oct. 10 for the start of hockey season, and even if you aren't entirely in sync with the nuances of hockey, you will be soon -- and the atmosphere will draw you in like no other.Feature image via Billy Foshay/Gavel Media
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