Boston College men’s hockey begins their season on Saturday night at Conte Forum against the University of New Brunswick. The Eagles start off ranked ninth in the nation in the USA Today poll. However, the team has much to prove following a season that saw it miss the NCAA Hockey Tournament for the second consecutive year.
The Eagles should be more experienced this year after relying heavily on underclassmen last season. Forward Logan Hutsko, recently selected 89th overall in the NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers, paced the team with 31 points a season ago. He should remain one of the primary contributors with a year of experience under his belt.
Beyond Hutsko, BC returns most of last year’s roster, which included just one senior. The opportunity to maintain that chemistry from last season is expected to do wonders, especially in the early stages of the season, when many teams are still adjusting to new rosters and lineups. The Eagles could certainly use a fast start after beginning last year 1-5-1 and never recovering in a season that ultimately ended with a loss in the Hockey East Championship against BU.
Junior goalie Joseph Woll, arguably the team’s most important player, will be crucial to BC’s success, especially when facing high-powered offenses in the Hockey East. Woll posted a 2.48 GAA last season over 30 starts, but improvement in his junior season could push this team to new heights.
Expectations are always high for Head Coach Jerry York’s squad, and experience is not the only reason to be optimistic about this year’s team. The Eagles welcome five freshmen players to the roster, with Patrick Giles and Adam McBain headlining what looks to be a strong recruiting class. Both players are expected to be high draft picks in the upcoming NHL Draft, and a strong season for the Eagles could boost each player’s draft stock significantly.
BC’s unique blend of new talent and past experience should aid the team’s efforts to reclaim the Hockey East title and return to the NCAA Hockey Tournament after an extended absence. However, this season will provide its share of challenges. An early home matchup with fourth-ranked St. Cloud State should give fans an immediate sense of what to expect from this team. Back-to-back matchups against eighth-ranked BU, in addition to a critical road game against third-ranked Notre Dame in December, will also likely be important for national rankings and playoff positioning.
Conference play begins on Nov. 2 against Merrimack University and continues into March of next year, with the Eagles ending their regular season in Providence. This looks to be a promising season for the Eagles, and a Frozen Four appearance for the first time since 2016 should not be ruled out. The roster is talented as always, but failure to execute in critical games could leave BC in the same pit as last season. Hopefully the team has developed enough in the offseason to return to the dominance that Eagles fans across the country have come to expect from Jerry York and his squad.
Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College Athletics.