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BC Men’s Hockey: Opening Weekend Thoughts

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Reflecting on a 2-for-2 opening weekend

COLLEGE HOCKEY: MAR 23 Hockey East Championship - Boston College v Northeastern Photo by Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Well, that started about as well as we could have hoped.

The Boston College men’s hockey team is 2-0 for the first time since the 2011-12 season, and they looked pretty good doing so. It’s a strong start to a season that fans were optimistic for, and banking a couple wins before heading to Denver for a two game series is a good way to start things off. So before we move on to the Pioneers, let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from BC’s first two games.

SPENCER KNIGHT SHINES

So goaltending in a post Joe Woll world won’t be an issue.

Spencer Knight played both games for BC over the weekend, and he was fantastic.

Knight made some incredible saves on Friday night in BC’s 5-3 win over Wisconsin. Two of the three goals he allowed were on Wisconsin power plays, where another first round pick, Cole Caufield, ripped perfect shots past BC’s goalie. The third goal was on a shorthanded breakaway that barely snuck past him.

On Sunday, Knight was perfect. He went 39/39 on saves and shut down Colgate for his first collegiate shutout. He was positionally sound and his rebound control was excellent all weekend.

Knight was highly touted coming in as the highest drafted goalie since 2010, and he showed why in his first two college starts. It’s fun to imagine how good he can be if he sticks around for a few seasons.

FIRST LINE, STILL AWESOME

Everyone wants to see more scoring depth this season. We didn’t see much of that at all last season, with the top line of David Cotton-Julius Mattila- Logan Hutsko being the only one that was consistently a threat to score. And while it’s true that we all want more from the bottom 9...man it’s fun to watch those three play hockey.

Cotton and Mattila both ended the weekend with two goals and four assists, while Hutkso ‘settled’ for one of each. Their combined 14 points in two games is impressive, and should demonstrate that while BC now has some scoring depth, the big names can still dominate games.

SPECIAL TEAMS QUESTIONS

The penalty kill was mostly fine over the weekend, allowing two goals on 11 chances, both of which came on perfect shots from the aforementioned Caufield. Taking 11 penalties in two games is concerning, especially considering how good BC looked at even strength, but as long as they can kill them off at a decent clip, it’s not hugely problematic.

BC’s power play hasn’t operated at above a 20% clip since the 2015-16 season, and they struggled again to open the season, converting on just once on their eleven chances. They also let up a shorthanded goal near the end of a five minute major power play on Friday night. There were some power plays that looked better than others, but the Eagles struggled to even get set up on more than one occasion. Outscoring your opponents 7-0 at even strength over two games is a great way to win games, but it would be nice to see the power play turn into a consistent threat.

ENCOURAGING SIGNS FROM FRESHMEN

Spencer Knight wasn’t the only one who was solid in his first college games. BC’s two other first round picks, Matt Boldy and Alex Newhook, flashed some early signs of chemistry on their second line. Boldy scored his first goal of the season in Friday’s opener against Wisconsin and Newhook looked dangerous all night. Both were kept off the score sheet on Sunday, but continued to look like they could be impact players right away. Mike Hardman played a physical game on the fourth line and was noticeable around the front of the net.

On the blue line, Marshall Warren scored a beautiful goal against Wisconsin, showing impressive patience and skating ability as he carried the puck deep into the zone and behind the net before firing a wrist shot into the net. Warren and fellow freshman Drew Helleson did well in their own end as well, and will be expected to play some big minutes as part of a defensive unit that looks to take a step forward after last season.

Overall, there were an awful lot of positives to take away from these first two games. We may get a better idea of just how good this team is on Friday and Saturday, when they play two against the undefeated Denver Pioneers, but for a team that started 0-5 in the 2018-19 season, this was a fun weekend that and a great way to start the season.