Bianca Dempsey / Gavel Media

With Youth Comes Great Potential for Men's Hockey

With seven incoming freshmen and five key upperclassmen departures, next year's men's hockey team will be nearly unrecognizable. The key to success in the 2016-17 season is going to be the rising sophomore class and incoming freshman class stepping up early into leadership roles on the ice, and the veteran core of the squad continuing to improve and stay healthy.

Chris Calnan is returning to BC for his senior season alongside Ryan Fitzgerald, Austin Cangelosi, and Matthew Gaudreau. Calnan battled a shoulder injury for a majority of the second half of the season. The key for his success is staying healthy and staying on the ice. If Calnan can keep himself in tip-top shape, he will be a key member of the Eagles' offense.

Fitzgerald has been at the top of the list for nearly every offensive category in the last two years. He is a key player when it comes to scoring goals. The Fitzgerald-Colin White duo has the potential to be unstoppable as they finished the year at first and second in points, respectively. Another crucial player on that line is Gaudreau, whose production skyrocketed in his junior season. With all three of these skilled players returning, Coach Jerry York has the option to keep that line together or explore new combinations; but they seem to work well together and make each other better out on the ice.

Cangelosi also found his confidence on the ice this past season. He stepped up to become the guy his teammates could rely on in moments of immense pressure by performing big game-saving blocks and scoring goals when they were needed the most. His leadership is not always present, but by being an example of the rewards of hard work he is likely to be a player that the incoming freshman will look to when in need of guidance.

A good majority of the team, however, will be freshmen and sophomores who will have to adjust their game accordingly. The youth of the 2016-17 squad should not be a cause for concern as some of the most influential players are coming from the sophomore class. White is returning after a stellar freshman campaign and will be the go-to guy when the team needs a prolific goal-scorer on the ice. He is sure to continue his dominance into next season.

Defenseman Casey Fitzgerald had ups and downs in his opening year, but found his stride late in the season to prove that he was a force to be reckoned with. Fitzgerald was also one of 42 players invited to the U.S. National Junior Team evaluation camp with hopes of making the team that will take part in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship this winter. This past weekend, Fitzgerald was picked 86th overall by Buffalo in the 2016 NHL Draft.

In addition to Fitzgerald, incoming freshmen Joseph Woll and Graham McPhee were also taken in the middle rounds of the 2016 NHL draft this past Friday and Saturday in Buffalo, NY.

Woll was also named to the development camp's preliminary roster. Demko's replacement has spent the past two years as a member of the US National Team Development program and helped lead the USA U18 National team to a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships. The 17-year-old went 62nd overall to Toronto in the 2016 draft. Woll also posted a .916 save percentage and had a shutout in his last season on the US NTDP.

Some other additions to the team this fall will be Jesper Mattila, Zach Walker, David Cotton, Connor Moore, and Mike Campoli.

Mattila, a Finland native has played on the country's national team from his U16 years up until last season on the Finnish National U20 team. He is coming in to fill the defensive hole left behind. Walker is set to arrive on the Heights this fall alongside US NTDP teammate, McPhee, who played in 25 games with the NTDP this past season and finished with five points and plus-3. McPhee will follow in his father's footsteps and join the team this fall after a three-year campaign with the NTDP. He was drafted 149th overall by Edmonton this past Saturday.

Cotton played his last season with the Waterloo Blackhawks and Moore is coming from the Youngstown Phantoms to help fill in on defense. He had 33 points and was a plus-23 in his last year in the USHL. Campoli is another defensive option for the Eagles coming from the US National U18 team.

With some solid returners and strong additions to the 2016-17 roster, Jerry York's team is not to be slept on despite its young age; it will be a tough contender in the coming season.

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