Going into the season, most people didn’t expect the Boston College men’s hockey team to be in the position it is currently in, sitting at No. 3 in the USCHO.com rankings. The influx of freshmen and the departure of many key players gave the impression of that a mediocre season was impending, but the Eagles are sitting pretty at 12-4-1 overall and 7-0-1 in the Hockey East.
A 10-game unbeaten streak came to an end on November 18 after a loss to Harvard, but they remain comfortably seated in first place of their conference—the only team with a donut in the loss column.
Tuesday night, the Eagles took down Northeastern in a thrilling finish as Mike Kim’s short-handed goal—his first career game-winner—with 22.9 seconds left in the game sealed the 2-1 victory. Kim’s game has improved dramatically from last season; the sophomore defenseman has become a dominating presence on the ice. His two-way play has created bountiful opportunities on offense, while he has remained a key facet of the young defensive unit. He sits at +12 on the season and has 11 points and 28 blocked shots.
The youth of this team has shown through at times, but it has found overall success, outscoring opponents 63-39. Freshman forward David Cotton and defenseman Connor Moore have come up big on offense to help contribute to those numbers. Cotton has amassed 10 points, with Moore not too far behind at eight. Moore also leads the team with a +15 and 28 blocks.
Veteran Matthew Gaudreau is tied for eighth in the NCAA with 13 assists (a team high) and is a key offensive threat alongside goal-leader Colin White, who sits tied for tenth place in the NCAA with nine goals. The addition of JD Dudek to the second line with Gaudreau and White has created a dynamic threat that challenges even the best defensive forces. Dudek has seen vast improvement in his play, going from a consistent fourth-liner or scratch through much of his freshman campaign to third on the team with six goals. Not only is Dudek scoring more consistently, but he is also scoring more valuable goals, including game-winners against UNH and UConn (the latter solidifying a hat trick). His influence has been vital to the team’s first-half success.
Unfortunately, one recent dark spor for the team was the loss of Ryan Fitzgerald against Minnesota on Sunday. With what appeared to be an ankle injury, his time of return is unclear. His absence could prove costly on offense, as the senior was second on the team with 16 points. The good thing is that the Eagles haven't been reliant on individual players and have used nearly every player to generate offense. Still, the team will need to dig a little deeper to fill the hole that Fitzgerald’s absence has created.
The team will head to Madison Square garden this Saturday to take on North Dakota, the defending national championship team, in a true test of depth and resilience. York's crew will then return to Conte on Tuesday to host Northeastern before traveling to Notre Dame to close out the first half of the season.
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