The Men's Hockey team lost last night’s exhibition game to the University of New Brunswick by a score of 5-2.
The preseason No. 1 Eagles did not look like the top team they are, but should have no reason to worry moving forward; the loss was in no way representative of the talent and the skill level of the program. The Eagles will have plenty of chances in the coming weeks to prove they deserve the top seed, and they will capitalize.
There were many factors contributing to last night’s loss, but the truth of the matter is that BC looked rusty. That said, the team cannot be expected to be immediately perfect, especially with nine freshmen on the squad trying to adjust to a new level of play. Last night's exhibition can be largely viewed as a learning experience for the Eagles.
While BC has returned many of its core players—Alex Tuch, Zac Sanford, Ian McCoshen and Thatcher Demko, just to name a few—it has a relatively young new group getting time on the ice. As a scrimmage, this was a chance for Jerry York to see what these guys have to offer, so they were awarded a decent amount of playing time.
Immediately, the freshmen made an impact, contributing on both of the BC goals. Miles Wood got the first score of the night, hammering home a rebound off assists from Austin Cangelosi and Jeremy Bracco, and Colin White picked up his own assist on Scott Savage’s second period goal, which increased the lead to two.
“They [adjusted] themselves really well. We're going to have to depend on their growth and development as the season progresses,” said York of his rookies.
They did have their mishaps, but that can be expected when playing your first ever college hockey game. Chris Birdsall replaced Demko for the final two periods, letting in all five New Brunswick goals in the second.
“I thought he really struggled the second period, then came back and played much better the third period,” said York about Birdsall's play. “So part of that’s probably the nerves, part of that’s probably [because it was his] first game playing for BC. I think he’s a better netminder than he showed tonight.”
The team as a unit had consistent trouble with connecting passes, controlling the puck, and getting off good shots. BC created opportunities, but struggled to get them past Etienne Marcoux. “Our game reflected early season; a lot of mistakes with the puck,” said York.
Advantage play was the area where BC struggled the most, going 1-for-8 on power plays and allowing three of UNB’s five goals while on the kill. “It’s an early indicator that we have some work to do,” said York. That is just a matter of getting on the ice more and acclimating to a new group for both the rookies and veterans.
While the score looks bad on paper, it does not reflect the potential that the Eagles showed last night. They played against a much older UNB team that was far more experienced. The Reds appeared to be “in mid-season form,” according to York.
With very little practice under its belt (due to NCAA regulations), this year's program knows it has much to work on, but with more time and practice, it will get there. “It’s a good barometer on how hard we have to work, how much better we have to get,” said York.
These guys know the level they need to be at, and are well aware of the expectations, as well as the target on their backs, that come with being the projected number one seed. As Coach York puts it, “We’re just getting going.”
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