Man it’s good to be back.
After a long holiday break, the Boston College men’s hockey team picked up right where they left off on Saturday afternoon, blowing out Vermont 8-3 for their tenth consecutive win. It was a strong start to the second half for the Eagles, and hopefully a sign that we’ll continue to see the level of play that we saw in November and December before the break.
RYAN EDQUIST STEPS IN
BC was down one of their first half MVPs on Saturday, with starting goalie Spencer Knight still not back from his time with team USA in the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic. In stepped Ryan Edquist, the senior backup who spent much of the first half of the seasons recovering from an injury. It was Edquist’s first game action since January 16 of last season, when he started a game against Maine that ended in a 7-2 loss. While BC was clearly the more talented team on Saturday, it was reasonable to be worried about some signs of rust from Edquist.
Instead, he played just fine. Edquist made 23 saves on 26 shots to earn his first win of the season and did not look like a goalie who hadn’t seen live action in almost a full year. While he wasn’t perfect, he made the saves that the team needed him to make and was not really at fault for any of the three goals that he let in. As the broadcast team said on Saturday, the plan before Edquist got hurt was to give him a decent portion of the games along with Knight. Knight ended up playing every game of the first half while Edquist was out, and certainly did not look like he was struggling with the workload, but with his backup now healthy, it will be interesting to see the way Jerry York divides the starts in the coming months. There will certainly be opportunities for Edquist to get some more time, as the remaining schedule is packed with back-to-backs. Saturday’s performance should give fans some confidence that he’ll be able to play well enough to give Spencer Knight a game off here and there to keep him fresh.
MATT BOLDY FLASHES
In a first half that was almost entirely positive, one concern for the Eagles could have been the play of Matt Boldy, a freshman who was picked #12 in the 2019 NHL Draft. He had just three points in his first 15 games and his only goal came in the opening night win against Wisconsin. Some of that was just bad luck - he won’t shoot 2 percent for the entire season - but there were certainly times when it didn’t feel like he was playing at the level you would expect a first round pick to play at.
Saturday felt like a step in the right direction. Boldy played on a line with Jack McBain and Graham McPhee and it just felt like he was more noticeable in the offensive zone. He picked up an assist on Ron Greco’s first goal while BC was in the midst of a line change, put four shots on net, and was making plays happen early on. His line wasn’t quite as noticeable as the game went on (that line was the only line that did not have a forward score a goal), but it was at least a minor sign that things may be turning around. Boldy is also now on the first scoring streak of his young career, if you consider assists in two games almost a month apart to be a scoring streak.
BC’s scoring depth has been phenomenal this season. Pick a name of a player who had a down season last year and there’s a good chance they’ve had a bit of a bounce back in 2019-20. As a result, they’ve been able to succeed despite Boldy’s slow start. If he and his line can start to produce, BC will have at least three very capable scoring lines.
SCHEDULE TAKES A TURN
Both of the following statements can be true: BC has been a very good hockey team to this point of the season and BC has not played many of the upper echelon teams in Hockey East. BC currently sits tied for fifth in the Hockey East standings, though by points percentage, they are in first. Of the teams that are ahead of them or tied with them, BC has played only Providence. Of their six conference wins, two are against UConn and three are against Vermont, who is currently 0-9-1 in Hockey East.
None of that is a bad thing - good teams should be able to bank points against the bad teams they play - and it is worth noting that they did split with Providence in the two games they’ve played thus far, knocked off a highly ranked Harvard team, and swept Notre Dame before the holiday break. But it also means that the upcoming schedule is going to get a whole lot tougher in the very near future.
BC’s next four games consist of a home-and-home series with UMass Amherst this weekend, a game in Lowell on Friday the 17th, and a home game against BU the following Saturday. After a two game home series against Maine, they have UMass, BU in the Beanpot, and Lowell all over again. There are also two games with Northeastern and a BU road game in February.
Boston College currently sits fifth in the Pairwise rankings. UMass, Lowell, Providence, and Northeastern are all also in the top 12. BU is 25th after a middling first half of the season, but those games are never easy. It’s going to be a fun stretch run with a lot of meaningful games for the Eagles.
HAVE A DAY RON GRECO
There’s not honestly a ton to take away from one game against a bad Vermont team, but Ron Greco deserves some more love. He’s been a depth player for his entire time at BC and he’s been in and out of the lineup this season, so it had to feel great to finally get on the board this season with a hat trick and a four point game. Greco scored his three goals on just three shots and added an assist on Marc McLaughlin’s first period goal. It’s always nice to see long time players have a game like this and get rewarded for all their hard work over the years, and Saturday was no different. Congrats to Ron and here’s hoping he’s got a few more of those left in him for the rest of the season.