Now that Boston College’s hockey season has wrapped up, here are our thoughts on this year’s team:
How would you rate this season & why?
Laura: At the beginning of the season I said I’d be happy if this team made the Hockey East semifinals and the NCAA Tournament. They made the Hockey East finals, but not the NCAA Tournament. So based on that alone I’d give this season a B. There were definitely some major issues this season, but the Eagles played a lot of good games against tough teams and showed that they will keep fighting, even when they’re losing. It was a disappointing year by BC Hockey standards, but it was a decent year by general standards.
I know we're all feeling pretty good about how we finished strong, but it's hard to look at this season as a success. We backed into a share of the regular season title in the worst way possible, and other than that we didn't win anything at all. Really, missing the NCAA tournament puts a damper on the whole thing. Had we gotten there, then you could kind of tip your cap to a season where we weren't expected to do much, but we couldn't quite get there.
Arthur: I would rate this season a C. I hear what everyone is saying about defying expectations, about how this team wasn't supposed to be good to begin with, and I get all of that. But the reality is that this team was in the position to make the NCAA tournament as a decently high seed, and win the Hockey East outright, and because of a massive collapse none of those came to fruition. It's hard to look at that and not consider the season at least partially a disappointment.
Now, granted, games like the Beanpot consolation wasn't BC's fault necessarily *shakes first at Hockey East*, but the confluence is frustrating nonetheless.
The emotions are a little too raw right now, but I'd probably say somewhere between a B and a B-minus. Right now, I'm swelling with pride over that Hockey East tournament run. But realistically, based on the whole of the season, they probably had enough weapons where they should have qualified for the tournament. But the bubble is so wild and crazy that if you're between, say, #10 and #20 in the nation, it's always going to be close and hairy.
My benchmarks for considering this season a success were top 4 in the league, a trip to the Garden, and qualification for the NCAAs. On the first two fronts they exceeded my expectations. On the final front, they fell short.
How would you rate this season minus the month of February?
L: If February hadn’t happened I would be a lot more pleased with how this season turned out. The way BC played earlier in the year and in March showed that they can be a good team with this lineup, so the meltdown in February is still a little baffling to me.
G: I guess okay? We started out really strong, so that was good, but when it comes right on down to it, the we came away without anything we played for. That's a tough pill to swallow.
A: B+. Outside the month of February, BC was competitive against whichever team it played against, night in and night out. The freshmen seemed to acclimate well, and the fact that BC was in a position, going into February, to make the NCAA tournament and win the Hockey East regular season are all good things.
J: You really couldn't have asked for much of anything more out of the rest of the season other than February. A-/B+. The freshmen came along pretty nicely, Joe Woll played really well other than that stretch in February, and BC mostly beat all the teams they were supposed to beat (damn you Ferris State).
What was the biggest positive this season?
L: Joe Woll. Woll wasn’t perfect this season, but you can see how much talent he has and it’s clear that he’s going to develop into one of the better goalie to have played at BC. BC’s perseverance was also a big positive - being able to keep fighting even when you’re losing is encouraging, especially from such a young team.
G: It seemed to me that the young players fit in pretty well, and that we have some players who are going to stick around for four years. So while that's not really a positive for this season in particular, it's a positive for the future.
A: The freshmen. Joe Woll is a legitimate goaltender, and the forwards really acclimated nicely to the game.
J: I think the fact that players stepped up and successfully filled in bigger roles when called upon -- on the high end, Austin Cangelosi, then Matt Gaudreau, and then filtering down to guys like Dudek and Brown who went from bit-part players to important middle of the lineup guys. That kind of progression was crucial to BC's run of success through the aughts and the early teens and it got interrupted over the last few years. It's going to be crucial again next year as Brown and Dudek are going to have to make a jump, as are this year's freshmen.
What do you think needs to be worked on the most for next year's team to succeed?
L: Special teams improved a lot at the end of the season, but the Eagles are definitely going to need to continue to improve on those. Consistency from period to period is also something they need to work one - they need to be as strong as the third as they are early in the game to keep from blowing leads. The defense in particular is going to need to put in some hard work to improve their consistency and discipline.
G: Special teams -- which, granted, did improve at the very end although it was too little, too late. We were great 5 on 5 all year, but kept getting killed on special teams. If we had just an average power play and penalty kill, we probably enter the tournament as a 3 seed or better.
A: Doing a better job in the defensive zone. Far too often Woll was called upon to do yeoman's work, and at some point the Eagles need to be a little bit better in their own end.
J: The obvious answers here are the power play and overall discipline. Though the other key factor is going to be how well this year's freshmen - who showed various flashes of skill throughout the year - can step in to big roles. It's going to be a crucial summer for guys like Mike Booth, Zach Walker, Graham McPhee, Luke McInnis etc. - they will need to prepare hard and be ready for increased playing time in the fall.
Other thoughts you want to share?
L: I know I’m always the overly positive one about this team, but I think we’re going to be better than a lot of people expect next year. Losing Fitzgerald and Gaudreau and Cangelosi and White is obviously not great, but we have some skilled freshmen coming in and players like Dudek and Cotton should be able to contribute more as they continue to develop their game. And Woll should be pretty clutch.
G: This does, unfortunately, feel like we've moved well past our dynasty. We got away from what got us there -- strong players who want to be here for four years -- and sort of fell into the Michigan/North Dakota/Minnesota trap of the early 2000s/2010s that saw us recruit too well. We got burned pretty badly by it, and yet we still managed to keep ourselves in the national conversations. That's... amazing, really, and given the great young core we have of players who seem to fit the old BC mold, I feel good about the future. We aren't at that point yet, but we could well be on the cusp of hitting the front end of a new dynasty in a couple years. Let's see how it turns out.
J: Next year could be pretty similar to this year in terms of bubble status and position within Hockey East despite losing this great senior class. BC loses a lot, but brings in a freshman class that, on paper, should be more immediately prolific than last year's. All the competition around them (except for Providence) really loses a lot too, plus Notre Dame is finally going away. So the benchmarks look pretty similar to me - top 4 in Hockey East, go to the Garden, be in the NCAA picture.
I think two years out, '18-'19, is when you're starting to talk about a team that could really heat up and start piling up a ton of hardware, depending on how many of these players pan out and stay healthy. Can we start learning the Finnish words for "please don't leave after your freshman year?"
Look for Part II of our roundtable tomorrow!