Men’s hockey returns to action on January 8 for a rematch against Providence College after losing to both them and Ohio State in the Florida College Hockey Classic. The Eagles also lost the last game of the fall semester to Notre Dame. The result? The Eagles have now failed to hold third-period leads in three straight games.
The team was without key players in all three games, but as the second half match-ups were against much more competitive teams, it exposed some weaknesses the Eagles should work on.
During the Florida tournament, forward Colin White was in Finland representing USA in the World Juniors tournament. White has eight goals and 15 assists in 16 games and leads the Eagles in points and assists. Importantly, his high level of play facilitates better playing from the rest of the team. His linemates have improved a great deal since they began playing together.
However, neither Matthew Gaudreau nor Ryan Fitzgerald---who leads the team in goals---had a single point during the tournament. Likewise, in the Notre Dame matchup, Alex Tuch was out with a concussion, Miles Wood had symptoms of norovirus and Chris Calnan had an injured shoulder; all three are top six forwards -- it is no wonder that the offense struggled.
While the overall average is four goals in 32 shots per game, against Notre Dame the team went 3-for-26, against Ohio State they went 2-for-32 and against Providence they scored only once in 27 shots on goal. Absences and injuries are a key factor in the lack of scoring, and ultimately, this losing streak.
Another factor in the three game slump is a lack of discipline. It’s good to see such a passionate team but the Eagles simply take too many penalties. The season has been littered with fighting and game disqualifications for freshmen and veterans alike. Miles Wood versus Ohio State, Ian McCoshen and Matthew Gaudreau versus Wisconsin and Ryan Fitzgerald versus UMass Amherst are examples of the 10 minute majors and disqualifications the team has taken thus far. They also continue to take sloppy minor penalties like tripping and hooking, especially in the second and third periods, and five minute fighting majors. The Eagles are an extremely talented and skilled team; sloppy play and lack of discipline only hurts their game. The team needs to find a way to remain passionate but not let their emotions run away from them.
Obviously the 18-day break from hockey left them a little rusty coming to Florida, but we must put any excuses aside because these guys are far too talented and Jerry York is much too good of a coach to not take responsibility for their recent slump. Looking forward to Providence and Boston University, two top opponents, the Eagles can expected to pinpoint and fix exactly what went wrong.
Hopefully, BC will step up its offensive production with the return of White and play a passionate but skilled and disciplined game in the second half. It is not unusual for a team to have a slump in January -- the Eagles just need one win to shake off the loses and get the momentum back in their favor.
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