Well, it is that time of the year fellow Eagles. The Boston College Men’s hockey team opens up their season this Friday night against the Quinnipiac Bobcats at Conte Forum. In preparation for what is bound to be a good match, I spoke with Jonathan Singer from ‘Bobcats Hockey Blog’ to gather some insight into what to look for in the season opener.
1) First and foremost, congratulations on Quinnipiac’s first victory this past weekend in their exhibition match against Saint Mary’s. Was there anything, or anyone, in particular that stood out to you in that win?
It’s difficult to assess these types of games because they play a very different type of game in Canada. They play a very rough and tumble type of hockey with more penalties happening after the whistle. Quinnipiac has some good seniors on their team, specifically Bo Pieper and Tanner Macmaster, who both had goals in the game. However, the biggest thing is that everyone looks to have gotten out of the game healthy, which is really important.
Quinnipiac only had one official practice before this game and that’s one thing I wish the NCAA would change. Give them like a week and a half to two weeks to get things together and then have an exhibition game.
Overall, it was a tough game to watch. Quinnipiac didn’t score in the first period, Saint Mary’s took the first lead, then they tied, then Saint Mary’s took the lead again, and then Quinnipiac came back and won it.
The most impressive player was the freshman goaltender, Keith Petruzzelli. He was the 88th overall pick in the third round by the Detroit Red Wings this past draft. He made some really athletic saves in net, he’s tall and most likely going to be with the program for three more years. He is a legit pro-prospect.
2) What improvements do you think need to be made coming from that game?
There are a lot of things they need to work on before going to Boston College. I think the defense is fine on this team; they are really deep on defense with about 6 to 9 defensemen. Some concerns I would look at are that they were dominated on face-offs. They only won like 25 face-offs while Saint Mary’s won 48. Another thing they have to work on is their power play. They were 0-7 against Saint Mary’s, which is not what you are looking for; it’s not going to cut it.
The question for this team is, where are they going to find goal scoring? They struggled a bit last year in scoring goals. It was a real “Jekyll-and-Hyde” type season where sometimes they scored a lot of goals and other times they didn’t. They have some talent that just came in with the freshman, especially Odeen Tufto who played in the USHL last year and Matt Forchuck who led the Alberta Junior League in scoring. But, remember, they’re freshman and they’re going to make mistakes and are going to have to learn on the fly.
3) So, while it is still early, how do you think the Bobcats will perform this season?
They have five games in a row against Hockey Easy teams (Boston College, Boston University, Vermont and two at Northeastern) before they have Cornell at home, which are all going to be tough. At the beginning of the season, they are going to have to win a lot of games with their defense and goaltending. They are going to have to win a lot of 3-2/2-1 games until they find out which line combinations work and which guys are fitting in the right positions to make the team successful.
4) Are there any particular players on the Bobcats that you think will be serious threats to their competition throughout the year? And, in a similar vein, who should the Eagles really keep their eyes on in the season opener?
I think the Quinnipiac defense is going to be a strength on Friday night against Boston College. When you look at the BC roster from a season ago, they lost their top five scorers (White, Gaudreau, Savage, Cangelosi, Calnan). They don’t have a true senior on the team. This is a very uncharacteristic team for Jerry [York]. I’m surprised they were picked 4th in the Hockey East. Nonetheless, they have a lot of skill on this team, they are just very young.
I think Chase Priskie is going to be the guy [to watch], who was the third leading scorer last year on the team. Additionally, Craig Martin, Bo Pieper and Tanner Macmaster are all guys to pay attention to. On defense, Karlis Cukste is a pretty good ‘stay-at-home’ defensemen who can provide some offense. Another guy I think could have a really good season for Quinnipiac is Alex Whelan, who had a really good second half to last year’s season. He plays with a ton of energy and is somebody to keep an eye on.
5) Lastly, what do you predict happens Friday night?
I can see this game ending in a tie. This will be a big challenge for BC with a bunch of new guys on the roster and it should make for a hard fought game. I can’t see it being a high scoring match as I think both teams will struggle to score early.