Considering the last decade of Boston College Eagles hockey, you would think preseason prognosticators would end up giving Jerry York the benefit of the doubt. Five time Hockey East champions, four time HEA regular season champions, eight NCAA Tournament appearances, five Frozen Fours, four National title game appearances and two National Titles in the last four years.
Yet with the calendar turning to August and college hockey preseason top 10s and power rankings beginning to trickle in, it looks like the 2011-12 Eagles squad are on the outside looking in. So what gives?
There are many who have some reservations about the 2011-12 squad. Here are the top 3 reasons why many don't consider Boston College a top 10 program entering the season:
1. Loss of Big Time Scorers. Obviously the play-making and goal scoring abilities of Cam Atkinson will be the big loss heading into 2011-12, but the Eagles also lose Brian Gibbons, Jimmy Hayes and Joe Whitney. That's four of the top five scorers and over 50 percent of the goal scoring from last year's roster (Brian Dumoulin being the other). Seniors Paul Carey and Barry Almeida and juniors Pat Mullane and Chris Kreider will have to lead the charge on offense this season.
2. Goaltending. It's no small task to replace a netminder who went 21-2 in postseason play and won two National Championships at the Heights, but that is exactly what Parker Milner will be tasked to do this season. Though Milner is a bit of an unproven commodity, I actually think he'll thrive in net for York and the Eagles this season. Here's what BC hockey's Brooks Dyroff told us about Milner back in April:
"With John Muse leaving, we have a really, really solid goaltender in Parker Milner. He got some decent time freshman year. Not so much this year, but that's because Muse was playing so well. He's just kinda a hidden gem. I don't think people have been able to see what he's been able to do so far. So he's going to be solid between the pipes."
I have it on good authority that the Eagles will be just fine in net this season.
3. The 2011 fall/winter schedule. The early-season schedule is particularly unforgiving for the Eagles this season. The Eagles face North Dakota and Michigan State/Air Force in the Ice Breaker Tournament out in Grand Forks in addition to non-conference matchups with Denver, Yale, Notre Dame, all three against Boston University and the Great Lakes Invitational against Michigan, Michigan State and Michigan Tech. That's eight games against teams ranked in the final USCHO.com Division I men's poll. If the Eagles don't get off to a fast start, they may be facing an uphill climb to make the NCAAs short of earning Hockey East's auto bid.
What do you think? Do you think the Eagles should be considered a top 10 program in 2011-12 (last I checked, Jerry York was still standing behind the Eagles bench)? What aspects of this year's team give you the most reason for pause?