For Boston College Women’s Hockey, it was surely disappointing enough advancing all the way to the NCAA championship game with a perfect record before finally losing. But what really rubs salt in the wound is the realization that the team is nearly assured of taking some sort of step backward because of the talent lost to graduation.
All six graduating Eagles were major contributors to the near-perfect season, and four of them have experience with USA Hockey. All told, BC loses nearly half of its scoring to graduation, more than any of the top teams from last season.
But that’s not to say the Eagles won’t be competitive. Because of just how prolific their scoring was, they still return a huge amount of points — even after losing half.
Let’s compare the Eagles’ departures with some of the other programs.
*Teams are sorted by final KRACH rating at the end of the season
Given that the Eagles were peer programs with Minnesota and Wisconsin last season, it’s hard to imagine the Eagles keeping pace with the Gophers and Badgers over the course of a full season. But there is encouraging news to be had: BC is one of just four teams returning over 300 points from last season.
With last year’s depth beyond the top players combined with strength in goal, it would be difficult to see the Eagles drop all the way out of NCAA tournament contention. But with a number of bubble teams looking at the potential for significant year-over-year improvement (Princeton, Colgate, and Duluth in particular), there’s the danger that BC could fall into a cluster of strong-but-not-elite teams separated by a whisker from 3rd to 10th or so.
Let’s look at the same stats, but with the Hockey East teams:
What this poll says, more than anything, is that the Eagles should be brought at least somewhat back to the pack. But the last few years, that would be like slowing up Secretariat by a few lengths.
The Eagles haven’t lost a Hockey East game since the 2013-2014 season — a 48-0-1 stretch. That’s two consecutive full seasons without a loss. That probably won’t happen this year, but the Eagles should still be the favorite to win the league.
Northeastern and Boston University are the only teams that can threaten the top of the table, and their respective offseasons have been polar opposites. Northeastern lost the reigning Patty Kazmaier Award winner, Kendall Coyne, but not too much else. The Terriers, however, lost a slew of contributing players, although none of which had the game-changing ability of Coyne. How you slot those two teams into the conference rankings depends on which of those you think is worse.
We’ll have more coverage of the upcoming women’s hockey season as puck drop approaches — including our preseason NCAA and Hockey East rankings — but for now, these are some interesting numbers to chew on.