Somehow, the 2020-21 hockey season is beginning soon, and all that has made me realize is that time is a flat circle — it feels like just yesterday when everything was being cancelled due to the pandemic (sorry to bring back painful memories!), but somehow we are closer to March 2021 than we are to March 2020.
Anyway, we forge on with our hockey preview. Today, we’ll be taking a look at a powerhouse sophomore class, who definitely will be stepping up and having an immediate impact when the team hits the ice this year.
Matt Boldy, F
When we last saw Matt Boldy, he was playing some of the most confident hockey of his freshman season. After a slow start to the year - scoring 4 points (1g, 3a) in his first 17 games, Boldy exploded during the second half of the season, scoring 22 points (8g, 14a) in the remaining 17 games before everything ended abruptly.
This season, we can expect Boldy to take on a larger role in the top six, while providing a lot of scoring for the team. His scoring struggles at the beginning of last season seemed more like a statistical anomaly than anything else, since it was clear to those of us watching that he was basically doing everything correctly on the ice but the puck just wasn’t hitting the back of the net. Once he got the monkey off his back (quite literally, if you remember the celly from the UMass game in January which feels like years ago), he was able to turn his game around and end with solid numbers.
He was also invited to the USA Hockey World Junior camp a few weeks ago, and is likely making the final roster after being cut last year. This would mean he misses around two to three games depending on USA’s journey at the tournament, but he’ll get to start the season at BC.
Alex Newhook, F
Alex Newhook, to put it plainly, had an incredible freshman season. He had 42 points (19g, 23a) in 32 games, and won the Tim Taylor Award as the NCAA DI Rookie of the Year. When everything was cancelled, he was only a few points away from beating Johnny Gaudreau’s freshman year points record — a milestone he would have hit for sure had playoffs occurred normally.
This season, we likely won’t be seeing Newhook in an Eagles sweater until January. An invite to Hockey Canada’s month-long World Juniors camp starting on November 16 will keep him in Canada until the tournament begins. He’s pretty much a lock to make the final roster, which will keep him up north for the duration of the tournament, which starts December 25. He’ll most likely be missing 8-9 games and maybe more depending on quarantine rules as a result. When he does get back, though, we can look forward to him also taking on a larger top six role and contributing a lot of scoring. If Canada does well, we can also expect a burst of confidence that will only be beneficial upon his return.
Mike Hardman, F
While Mike Hardman doesn’t get the same accolades as his linemates — Newhook and Boldy — he was an essential part of last year’s freshman line, creating and finishing plays while finding incredible chemistry with them. Last season, he scored 25 points (12g, 13a) in 34 games, and proved to be a versatile player on any line he was on. He started off on the third line with Aapeli Räsänen and Newhook at the beginning of the season, but moved up to the second line early February. On both lines, Hardman was a scorer and playmaker, which helped immensely with depth scoring.
This year, I’d expect him to have more minutes and more of an impact on scoring, stepping up as some players will find themselves competing at World Juniors.
Liam Izyk, F
A transfer from Alabama Huntsville, Liam Izyk adds age and experience onto an otherwise young squad. He had 11 points in 32 games for UAH last season, good for fifth on the team. Izyk adds some solid depth for the Eagles, and will probably find himself on the third or fourth line depending on how everything shakes up.
Drew Helleson, D
Drew Helleson had a pretty solid freshman campaign. He finished the season with 6 points (1g, 5a) in 28 games, and showed improvement defensively as the season went on.
Following the graduation of four experienced defensemen last year, Helleson will be expected to step up and take on a larger role as the freshmen defensemen acclimate to NCAA play. Jerry York has expressed how impressed he’s been with Helleson’s development over the past year, especially with his skating. Additionally, Helleson was also invited to Team USA’s World Juniors camp.
Marshall Warren, D
Marshall Warren, much like Helleson, will be looked at for leadership and experience as one of the older members of the defensive corps. Last season, he tallied 11 points (6g, 5a) in 34 games, and ranked second in Hockey East among rookie defensemen scoring. As we all know on BCI, Warren is an exciting and skilled player to watch, and we can only assume he will continue being one as he steps up into a bigger role. He also joined his teammates for Team USA’s World Juniors camp.
Mitch Andres, D
Although Mitch Andres didn’t get a ton of playing time last year, suiting up for six games and scoring 1 point, he has shown that he is a valuable depth piece in the Eagles’ backend by stepping up when the team needed him. This upcoming year, he might get little more playing time considering how many freshmen defensemen will need to adjust to the NCAA, and especially if one or both of Helleson and Warren make the final roster for Team USA.
Jack Moffatt, G
Last year, Moffatt had to split backup duty time with Ryan Edquist, who almost always got the nod until he faced an injury. Therefore, Moffatt was only able to relieve starter Spencer Knight once, with nine minutes left in a 10-1 blowout of Northeastern — in which he saved all four shots he faced. It’ll be interesting to see how Jerry York decides who will get backup duties this season, given that freshman Henry Wilder is also a solid backup.
Spencer Knight, G
Spencer Knight had a phenomenal season last year, playing in all but one game and finishing with a .931 save percentage & 1.97 GAA. He was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team and the Hockey East Second Team All-Star, and was a top-5 finalist for the Mike Richter award. He had five shutouts last year, tied for third nationally (as a freshman!).
This season, Knight will most certainly be the starter. We can only be excited to see how much more he will improve with a year of experience already under his belt, as he closed off last season on a personal 9 game unbeaten streak and will look to continue that this season, hoping to lead the Eagles to some trophies. He stands on his head when the team needs him to — for example, when they give up 50 shots on goal to UNH — and is there to bail them out in case of a breakdown, remaining calm and collected in the crease regardless of what’s happening.
He will also likely be the starting goalie for Team USA at World Juniors like he was last year, hoping to backstop them to a gold medal — something they haven’t achieved since 2017.