With another two win weekend behind them, the Boston College men’s hockey team is rolling right now. Two dominant wins over Hockey East foe Vermont has brought their winning streak to five games and now has them sitting second overall in the conference, just one point behind UMass Lowell with a game in hand. It’s still pretty early in the season to be following these standings super closely, but it’s never fun to be chasing down multiple teams through December and January, so the Eagles are in a good spot right now. Some final thoughts on a weekend that featured wins of 5-1 and 3-0.
TIME TO TALK ABOUT SPENCER KNIGHT
There was a lot of hype around Spencer Knight before this season started. The freshman goalie had just been drafted 13th overall, becoming the highest drafted goalie since 2010, and was immediately penciled in to start for the Eagles. Boston College has had great fortune with their goalie play for the better part of two decades now, and Knight was expected to continue that legacy from the jump.
Through 11 games, he’s been everything the Eagles could have wanted and more.
With a 3-0 win on Saturday, Knight picked up his third shutout in the first 11 games of his career. He’s let in just five goals in the last six games and his .936 save percentage is good for eighth best in the nation. For goalies who have played at least eight games, he’s tied for sixth. All told, he’s faced 306 shots this season and allowed just 21 goals, of which only ten have come at even strength.
Knight has been almost flawless in the start to his BC career. He’s made big saves look easy, his rebound control has been phenomenal, and he’s been the workhorse that BC has needed while backup goalie Ryan Edquist has been out with an injury. It’s hard to imagine how his first eleven games could have gone much better.
RASANEN MAKING HIS MARK
One of the things that was clear coming into the 2019-20 season was that BC needed more scoring outside of their top line. Alex Newhook and Matt Boldy were expected to provide instant boosts as freshmen, but some of the returning players just flat out needed to play better than they did last season.
Enter Aapeli Rasanen. Rasanen took a step back in his sophomore season, scoring just seven points after putting up 16 as a freshman. The hope this year had to be that he bounced back, at the minimum, to his freshman year totals.
So far, so good for the junior forward. Rasanen has five goals and five assists through the first eleven games, already besting his totals from 33 games lat year. His five goals is tied with three others for tops on the team and his three power play goals also leads the Eagles along with David Cotton. He’s been playing well to this point, and his willingness to go to the front of the net has been a key reason why BC’s power play has looked better to this point.
Will he be able to keep up this near point a game pace? Well, probably not. He has five goals on just 15 shots and no matter how good a player you are, nobody scores on a third of their shots. But at the same time, he really doesn’t need to. Even if he cools off a bit and finishes around the 20 point mark, that’s great production for a guy who spends most of his time on the third line. But for now, let’s hope he can stay hot and keep up this level of production just a bit longer.
MIKE HARDMAN, THE ‘OTHER’ FRESHMAN UP FRONT
In a freshman class like BC had, it’s no wonder that Mike Hardman kind of slid under the radar. The Eagles brought in three first round picks, including two high end forwards in Alex Newhook and Matt Boldy that were locks for big ice time right away. Hardman, on the other hand, came to BC as a 20 year-old freshman and looked to be in a fight to earn his ice time farther down the depth chart.
Flash forward a few weeks and Hardman has played his way onto a line with Newhook and Rasanen. Hardman scored a gorgeous goal to open the scoring on Friday night and added an assist on Newhook’s goal early in the third period. Those two points brought him to seven on the season, good for a tie for fifth most on the team, and six more than the aforementioned Boldy.
The scoring has been nice, but equally as impressive has been the parts of Hardman’s game that we were told to watch out for. He forechecks hard and plays a style that is physical but not reckless, only taking two minor penalties to this point. He showed of a nice bit of skill on his goal on Friday night as well, cutting to the inside to beat a Vermont defenseman before ripping a shot into the back of the net. Hardman may not have been as hyped as Boldy or Newhook coming into the season, but his play in the early going has proven that he’s more than just BC’s ‘other’ freshman forward.
JERRY YORK COACHES TWO GAMES, WHICH IS NEITHER IDIOTIC NOR DISRESPECTFUL
If you missed this from Friday night and Saturday morning, I envy you. First, a brief recap of what lead to this ‘controversy.’
Jerry York has been coaching college hockey games since 1972. He has been coaching for Boston College since 1994 and, at the time this piece is being written, is still doing so in the 2019-20 season. BC played two games this past weekend, games that fall under that same 2019-20 season. And believe it or not, Jerry York coached in those games. Truly a remarkable development.
The ‘problem’ (there aren’t enough air quotes in the world) here? Coaching the games meant missing the festivities during the Hockey Hall of Fame weekend.
To make a dumb story short, Steve Simmons, a reporter up in Toronto called York’s choice to coach instead of attend the festivities idiotic, got ratio’d to hell, walked it back a bit and called it disrespectful, got ratio’d to hell again, and then doubled down on his take in a column. It’s every bit as stupid as it sounds and I’m not linking the tweets or the article because he doesn’t deserve the clicks.
Here’s what I’ll say before I try to forget I actually ever had to spend time thinking about this. If you have ever spoken to, listened to, or even listened to other people speak about Jerry York, you knew he was coaching these games. The man has an otherworldly passion for coaching, which is something that I thought may have been made obvious over the past four and a half decades. This wasn’t ever a choice. There is absolutely nothing from York’s coaching career that would lead any reasonable person to think he’d choose shaking hands over mentoring and developing the student athletes that he helped bring to BC. Coaching in these games, passing over a weekend that would have celebrated him in order to be there with his team? That’s the kind of attitude that got him into the Hall. It’s not idiotic and it’s certainly not disrespectful. It’s quintessential Jerry York.
Steve Simmons though? Idiotic and disrespectful pretty much nail it.