The preseason poll was released on September 22, tabbing the Eagles to finish second in Hockey East. Many people may see this as a good thing; second place isn’t too shabby, right? For Boston College Hockey, however, this prediction is disappointing. This is the first time in seven seasons and only the third time in the last 16 years that BC has not taken, or at least tied for, the number one slot.
So what is it? Why did the Eagles lose their top spot? They made it to the Frozen Four this past year, losing in the semifinals to the eventual champion: Union College. What makes the current number one, Providence, more likely to win that number one spot? The Eagles have 21 returning players from last year’s team and are adding three freshmen to a roster that is already pretty sound. Those in charge of preseason projections, however, seem to have focused more on who the Eagles lost.
The majority of our fist line in Kevin Hayes, Bill Arnold, Patrick Brown and Isaac MacLeod is gone. And of course we are missing our beloved Johnny Hockey: a member of team USA, Hockey East Player of the year for two years in a row, the Hobey Baker winner and an ESPY nominee for Best Male College Athlete.
Can you also lose something that you never had? Sonny Milano (who went sixteenth overall in the 2014 draft), an incoming freshman, decided that his career was headed in a different direction. He is currently in training camp with the Columbus Blue Jackets and plans on playing on either the OHL or NHL, depending on how camp goes.
It’s not as bad as you may think, though, with Coach York at the reins. When you look at the current roster there are seven players who have been drafted to play in the NHL. Of the three incoming freshmen, one was drafted in the first round of the 2014 NHL entry draft; Alex Tuch going 18th overall to Minnesota. Tuch was a big contributor to the U.S. National Under-18 team; with 32 points in 26 games played also with a +18 rating. He was tied for first on the team with six power-play goals; and in games where Tuch scored, team USA was 8-1-0.
Another incoming freshman, Noah Hanifin, was recently invited to play in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects game. Hanifin, at the ripe age of 17, is projected to go top five in the 2015 draft. The game invites the top 40 American-born prospects that are eligible for the NHL entry draft the following year.
They also host another first round pick, from the 2012 draft, junior Michael Matheson (23rd overall to Florida). Other draft picks and returning players are: Ryan Fitzgerald (Boston), Chris Calnan (Chicago), Ian McCoshen (Florida), Thatcher Demko (Vancouver), Adam Gilmour (Minnesota), and Steve Santini (New Jersey). Quinn Smith and Danny Linell are returning to play in their final season under York. Austin Cangleosi will be returning after a solid freshman season last year. And we still have some Gaudreau blood in the lineup, with Matt returning as a sophomore.
Fear not, fellow Eagles, these preseason projections are truly underestimating this year’s team. We still have a lot to look forward to this season, with the injection of some fresh faces as well as the return of those that everyone knows and loves. Those preseason polls underestimated the firepower that we are working with, and they should never, ever, underestimate what Jerry can do.
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