Joseph Gravellese: I'm going to get a little cornball right off the bat here, but I have to say: I never realize just how much I miss BC hockey until I'm at the first game (Even if it's an exhibition).
This is going to sound slightly spoiled, but: I was at a Red Sox playoff game last weekend. It was great. I was at a Bruins preseason game recently, which was awesome, because hockey. BC football has been fun and rewarding this year.
But, for me... I just love the feeling of being in Conte, of seeing the team that I pay the most day-to-day attention to in person, and watching with the great friends who sit around me at games.
I loved getting angry at Hansen for going to video replay to review TWO goals. I loved waiting for Gaudreau to torch the defense (it took awhile, but it happened). I even loved the familiar feeling of frustration of seeing the other team score. It's a fun kind of frustration (In an exhibition, anyway). It's good to be back.
It helps that it was a great day of hockey for BC. The men's team routed St. Francis 8-2, and the women's team beat Maine 5-1. Good starts for both.
The best performer of the day was probably the air conditioner in Conte. The new A/C system definitely works. I was shivering by the end of the day; the days of going to Conte without a sweatshirt or jacket are over.
I know you didn't get to see the exhibition game, so you won't be able to discuss it much with me, and to prevent too much tl;dr, here's a link to the recap, which discussed the line combinations and defensive pairings for the game.
Grant Salzano: I heard several comments about the A/C. God, that is such a long time coming.
What I'm looking forward to the most is no longer being at a competitive disadvantage in our own arena. With our team speed we need that puck to sit on that ice like a rock.
Also, SPEEEEEEEED AGAIN!
JG: I hadn't even thought of that angle, but that's a good point.
And yes. Speed. We did see it on Sunday, which was lacking for most of last year.
But the impression that I got watching the team is that this group isn't going to win with just speed, it's going to win with puck movement. BC's passing game, and general confidence with the puck, was the most noticeable difference from last year -- not the speed.
I know it's an exhibition against sub-par competition, but still: BC possessed. BC held the zone. BC made great first passes out of the defensive zone to turn defense into offense. This is what excites me. We've been missing that.
That starts, to me, with the revitalized defense. I'm pretty sure Blake Bolden and Dru Burns took defensive shifts for the BC men last year due to injuries, suspensions, and underperformance. Now, the Eagles have 9 d-men to choose from. Are they all world-beaters? No. But the depth is nice to see.
GS: I wouldn't shrug off the blowout of a CIS team. The gap is pretty small. BU eeked out a 2-1 win against this same team, and Lowell (!) tied (!!) McGill (!!!).
JG: Well, McGill seems to be a lot better than St. Francis. But yeah, a lot of the NCAA/CIS games have been competitive in the last couple of years.
GS: It sounds like the freshmen were pretty electric. What did you think?
JG: Electric wouldn't be the first word that comes to mind... I'd say... stabilizing? reinvigorating? They all brought things to the table.
Cangelosi and Calnan scored goals by going hard to the net, which was great.
Adam Gilmour looked strong and poised, like someone who's going to be a classic Jerry York third-liner-with-goal-scoring-talent. He had one of the best passes of the game, setting up Spiro's breakaway that led to the penalty shot.
I'm really pumped about the defensemen. Ian McCoshen looked like a natural on the power play and skating with Mike Matheson. That defensive pairing is going to do terrible things to opponents.
Santini and Savage both looked ready and willing to drop the hammer. They will have growing pains but they clearly have a lot of ability. Doherty looked better, and had less pressure on him... I'm pretty sure he was on our first d-pair last year, because depth.
Hell, as much as I've been exasperated by the Linell on D experiment, he had two assists. So. The coaching staff has some decisions to make.
GS: That's really a good point on Doherty. He should be able to thrive while not being pushed into a high-pressure role.
JG: Hopefully. And I think what will be good is that pressure for playing time will be on, big time; if someone goes cold, there will usually be someone ready and able to replace you.
Anyway, I want to try my best not to read too much into an exhibition. But that was the impression that I got. Lots of weapons. Lots of poise by the freshmen.
GS: I'm not as freaky-outy about the Linell on D thing as some of us are. I trust the staff. If they're doing it, they're doing it for a reason.
JG: I still have bad memories of last year. But again, it didn't help that he didn't just play D, he logged big, crucial minutes.
GS: This depth thing is nice.
So Real Hockey is tomorrow. Feeling good against Michigan? I know I am.
JG: I'm feeling good, but I think Michigan will be feeling good, too. Or at least I thought they would be, before they lost to Waterloo (?!) in an exhibition game. Michigan blogger MGoBlog will address that game in the Q&A we did with him, which will post tomorrow.
This is going to be a challenging game for a freshman-laden team, on the road against a team that ended the year hot but had a long off-season of hoping for redemption, after missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in over 20 years.
The biggest question for BC at this point: who is going to be in the lineup?
GS: J. Gaudreau... M. Matheson...
JG: Yeah. Oh, I didn't even mention: Demko. He looked good. But he also didn't start the game, Billett did.
Far be it from me to question the Right Honourable J. York, Esq. But I'm really hoping they throw Demko the keys on Thursday night. No better first college experience than playing a ranked team at Yost. GS: I am not surprised at all that Billett the Skillet started. It was probably a bit of a reminder to Demko -- as though he even needed it -- that he's the new guy and is going to have to earn it, and keep earning it. I would be shocked if he didn't start, especially since Billett gave up a pair. JG: I'd say it'll be a good idea to keep an eye on The Kid's BC hockey blog (& on twitter at @bchockeyblog1), because reports from practice will be very interesting this week. GS: Or, for the next 24 hours anyway.
Editor's Note: The Banter was done prior to The Kid's announcement that Billett was named the starter for tomorrow. Oops. We're dumb.
JG: Straight and Sit missed the game on Sunday due to injury and honestly due to how well everyone else played I wouldn't be surprised to see them both held out on Thursday, regardless of their recovery process. But practice info will help with that.
GS: No need to rush anyone given our depth.
JG: We also look ahead a bit to Sunday's home opener, against RPI. Two issues to discuss:
1) Home opener on a Sunday, on Columbus Day weekend = blech.
2) RPI is a good team. Let's hope this doesn't go the way our last game against ECAC opposition went.
GS: They're okay. Wish they were in Hockey East instead if Notre Dame but whatever.
JG: That's something I can get behind.
GS: We can't possibly lose that game. Conte is going to be ice cold and rocking. #Analysis
Make no mistake, this is a game BC should win, freshmen or no freshmen.
Let's take a quick look at the rest of Hockey East. Northeastern and Maine both easily took care of Dalhousie, so they must be pretty bad.
McGill had a great weekend, tying UMass-Lowell and Merrimack.
Guelph put up a little fight but lost to Notre Dame. We know about Waterloo's upset of Michigan in their exhibition.
A couple of questions in relation to these results:
1) Any goofy over-reactions to these results as a result of one week of exhibition games?
2) How would you feel about Canadian schools being integrated into NCAA hockey? It's apparently a real possibility in the next 5-10 years.
GS: Goofy overreactions are a natural part of any preseason. But that is a lot of results. And it's been happening for years now.
I would love to have potential Canadian road trips to watch BC. Our trip to New Brunswick in '09 was AWESOME.
JG: Yeah, that's kind of where I'm coming from on this one, too. It would be fun, as a fan. But in the bigger picture: extending NCAA hockey to Canada could attract more Canadians of legitimate college age to NCAA hockey.
Not just to the Canadian teams, but to the American ones, too. It could create some fun cross-border rivalries. And expand the sport's footprint. I am all for it, honestly. And this is as someone who is generally resistant to change in our little college hockey bubble.
I just don't know if would be cooler to integrate Canadian teams into NCAA conferences, or have them be in their own conferences and have epic Champions League-style showdowns in the postseason.
Either way would be pretty sweet.
GS: Finally, a way to expand the visibility of the sport to places it should be expanded to, rather than, like, Tampa.
JG: Ha. Good point.
We would also be remiss if we didn't mention the women's team's casual dismissal of the Maine Black Bears on Sunday night. Nothing to see here, right? Easy does it. The real tests begin this weekend against St. Lawrence.
GS: Looking forward to these games big time. SLU is an decent team but if we are as good as we think we are, we should sweep without difficulty.
Best part about our game against Maine: The freshmen!!
JG: Yeah. They were ERRY'where.
GS: They were everything we hoped they'd be, fitting right in, and all of the big recruits hit the scoresheet, with the rest showing great depth and potential.
JG: It wasn't just the Skarupa show, although she was brilliant. The freshmen were the sparkplugs. Capizanno in particular had a really nice game. She's a hard-nosed player.
All four lines are dangerous for BC, just like the men.
GS: It was just Maine, but seeing the freshmen play like that off the bat is incredibly encouraging. The excitement is building.
JG: I kind of thought BC might get a first place vote or two after Minnseota had a mild scare against Colgate before pulling away. But they've earned the right to be #1 until they actually lose a game, which hasn't happened since the Eisenhower administration. (Someone double check that for me before this gets published)
GS: Yeah I actually watched one and a half of those games (DEDICATION) and Minnesota looked... well, good, but human. So that was nice.
JG: Actually, y'know, without even being mock-funny... the last time Minnesota lost a women's hockey game, Spaz and Gene were still the co-head-coaches of BC football.
GS: Oh my God
That's about all for Hockey Banter this week. Come back on Thursday afternoon for our A.J. Black-inspired "Final Thoughts & Predictions," where we take a last look ahead at this weekend's hockey games, and make our predictions for BC and other big games nationally.