Boston College made history last year, becoming one of only a few college hockey teams to have three players selected in the first round of the NHL draft. One of these players was Massachusetts’ own Matt Boldy, who went 12th overall to the Minnesota Wild.
Facing high expectations upon his arrival on the Heights, Boldy dealt with a scoring drought in the first half of the season after scoring his first goal in the first game, before breaking through and turning the rest of his season around. While he only scored four points in his first 17 games, he went on to score 22 more in the final 17 games before the season was cut short early.
We sat down with Matt (virtually, of course!) earlier this week to discuss why he chose BC, what last season’s abrupt ending was like, how this year has looked so far, and what playing against his linemate might look like at World Juniors, before diving into some fun quarantine- and BC-related questions.
In the past, you’ve said that playing at BC is like a dream come true and that there’s no place you’d rather be - why did you choose Boston College?
Boldy: So I’m from Massachusetts, I grew up around 40 minutes away from BC — I actually grew up coming to all the BC games when I was younger; obviously they were quite the powerhouse when I was growing up in my younger years. I think a lot of it had to do with me coming to the games and being able to watch what they had and see how good they were and the atmosphere at the games — it kinda set in my mind that [BC is] where I wanted to be, and when I got the opportunity to come here it was pretty hard to pass up.
You scored the game winning goal in your first game as an Eagle - what was that like?
Boldy: It was awesome. I think that whole experience of the first game [is] obviously a little stressful and a little nerve-wracking but it was awesome — the fans showed up, we had a pretty packed stadium and we were playing Wisconsin which had a lot of my former teammates on that team, so it was pretty cool scoring that goal and getting that win with the guys.
Do you think that scoring your first goal that early added any extra pressure for you?
Boldy: Not really, I don’t think it added that much pressure; I think that it helped me a little bit, getting more confident, but I wouldn’t say that it added any pressure.
You spent the first half of last season constantly on the verge of really breaking out offensively - with lots of bounces just not going your way for a while despite getting shots in. How did you deal with that?
Boldy: It was definitely frustrating, but you just try and take the positives away from it. Like you said, I was still getting shots on goal, I was still playing good hockey and helping us win games, so - the points weren’t coming but we were still winning games and doing well as a team, [which] made it really easy. I had a lot of help from teammates, making sure I was still staying positive, and to keep pushing until that breaking point happens and the points start coming.
When you broke your scoreless streak back in January, you celebrated by pretending to throw the monkey off your back. How did that celly come to be? Like were you planning it, or was it spontaneous; in the moment?
Boldy: I think it was a little spontaneous — it’s a pretty classic one, I think, in the hockey world. (Author’s note: I did not know this! I had never seen the celly before which is why I thought it was so creative.) I know a lot of guys had been talking about it and saying that I had it on my back so it was kinda in the moment, just happened and it worked out pretty well, I guess.
The team really seemed like you were heading towards something big when things got cut short - can you talk about what it was like finding out that the tournaments were cancelled and then kind of living in limbo for the summer not knowing what this season would look like?
Boldy: Yeah, everything happened so fast. It was obviously hard for everyone and especially our seniors who really had a chance to go really far and a chance at a National Championship. We basically found everything out on Thursday, and we were [supposed to be] playing in the Hockey East playoffs on Friday. It was tough, hearing the news and everything.
The summer was a little stressful, because it wasn’t what anyone expected. It wasn’t a normal summer, [we] kinda had to go out of [our] way to find different ways to keep training and keep skating and doing it with all the new rules we have because of Covid.
I would say it was definitely a little heartbreaking for us, but especially the seniors that our season got cut so short with the potential to go so far.
As a rookie last year, who did you learn the most from on the team?
Boldy: I think there were a lot of guys that helped and were really good mentors. But I think obviously our captain David Cotton, who was a pretty significant player in his four years here. He’s definitely an easy guy to look up to, the way he carries himself and how he handles the game and takes everything so seriously. He just has those leadership qualities you need in your captain — it’s really easy to look to him and learn from him.
What’s been your favorite moment as an Eagle so far?
Boldy: Oh that’s a tough one, I think there have been a lot of great moments. I don’t know if I can think of a particular moment; there are games that stick out more like our wins against BU and stuff like that, but I think the best part about being here so far has been how great of a team we’ve had; not only on the ice but off the ice too with the guys that we have. We have such a great group that makes going to the rink every day so fun — I mean, you’re going there to hang out with your best friends and there’s no cliques or anything like that. I would say that’s probably the best part of being here at BC.
So as a first round draft pick, how did you make the decision to come back to BC for your sophomore season, particularly considering this season is a weird one?
Boldy: This is the place I wanted to be; the place I think I need to be to get to the next level. Last year I had a tough first half but didn’t think I was playing bad hockey - I just didn’t think it was the right time for me to make that step. I think I needed the years and wisdom of our coaches here to grow a little bit more as a person and a player, and obviously continue my education. I wanted to be here - I’m really fortunate to come here so I don’t want to just throw it all away. I want to make sure I make the most of it and spend my time here.
Are there any specific aspects of your game you’ve been working to improve in the off-season?
Boldy: Yeah, there’s a few - just working on my shot and stuff like that, and obviously my skating which are pretty simple things to work on. Playing a little faster too, moving my feet a little bit more, and making plays at a higher speed rather than trying to slow the game down.
Pivoting a little bit, how is day-to-day life different given the current situation? What are any additional restrictions that players are facing?
Boldy: I think our whole staff has done a great job with making sure we’ve been safe and have everything we need. In terms of restrictions, it’s not too terrible considering everything that’s been going on — we get tested three times a week, so on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we have to get tested before 11am which is pretty simple and easy protocol to follow. Other than that, just making sure you’re staying safe, you’re wearing your masks when you need to, physically distancing yourself from others when it’s manageable and stuff like that. So nothing too crazy, but they’re definitely making sure we’re staying safe and doing the right stuff.
How are you and your teammates preparing for the atmosphere of playing in an empty rink?
Boldy: It’s definitely going to be different [from last year]. Obviously [last year we were] playing in a rink full of people, especially last year the fans were awesome - they were basically packing that student section every night, so [this year] it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be different, but it just comes down to creating our own energy. We have guys on our team that have that natural energy that just excites everyone — guys like Patrick Giles and Alex Newhook — they just have that personality where they get everyone excited to go, so we’re going to rely on guys like that to keep the energy high and just go out there. The good thing is that it’s not only us that’s playing without fans. Everyone’s in the same boat, so we just have to make the most of it and capitalize when we can.
What’s the best advice Coach York has given you guys about staying positive and playing in this very weird reality we’re in right now?
Boldy: He’s done an awesome job, he’s probably the most positive person I’ve met in my whole life. He’s kept us upbeat, and done a great job with managing our practices with such a long preseason before playing games, and keeping us up to date with everything the league has said.
So, my last hockey related question - you and Alex Newhook are two of the most highly touted players on the team. How do you guys balance being linemates and friends at BC and then facing the possibility of going to World Juniors and having to compete against each other?
Boldy: It’s a little weird, but like you said, he’s probably my best friend. We’re roommates together — roommates freshman year and roommates this year, so we’re definitely really close and playing together here is awesome. I think playing with a guy of that caliber — he thinks the game so well, skates so well, he’s just - he’s a hell of a hockey player. It’s pretty hard to not be friends with him. I think the way he carries himself as a person makes it easy too; he’s very humble, he’s the one to talk to about certain things - if things are going wrong on the ice or anything like that. Managing us together on the ice here is pretty easy I think, we have a pretty mutual understanding of how to take care of ourselves or help each other out.
In terms of the USA-Canada rivalry, there’s definitely been some words exchanged between us about it [laughs] but we’re both really excited for it — hopefully things go well for both of us in making the teams, and getting the chance to play against each other. It’s gonna be pretty cool, I think it’s gonna be an interesting game, a good game, but I would say that USA is going to come out on top.
Okay, now time for some fun questions!
What are the best and worst TV shows or movies you’ve watched during quarantine?
Boldy: The worst movie I would say was that Adam Sandler movie — what’s it called, it just came out last winter — Uncut Gems. I thought that movie was really bad, it stressed me out with all the music. The suspense that it made, I was like stress-watching it so I’d say that was the worst movie I watched during quarantine. I watched Game of Thrones for the first time with my brother which I think was the best thing that I watched during quarantine.
Did you pick up any hobbies during quarantine?
Boldy: Nothing crazy, I’m a pretty big golfer, same with my brother, so as soon as they opened [golf courses] up we were playing quite a bit. Other than that, not really. Me and my brother were just hanging out with my mom and finding little things to do, but I wouldn’t say we picked up any fun hobbies that we did pretty consistently.
What’s something BC fans might be surprised to know about you?
Boldy: I don’t know, I’d say I’m pretty laid back, a pretty quiet kid, [and I] try to kind of keep to myself as much as I can. I’m actually a pretty good golfer — 2 handicap, that’s a pretty big surprise to some people. (author’s note: I will be honest I do not know what this means but it seems good based on a Google search!)
Favorite dining hall meal?
Boldy: Well this year’s been a little different because of all the dining hall options, but for lunch I’ve been going for the Eagles Nest bowls, those have been pretty healthy and pretty good options.
Boldy: My go-to song… it depends on the occasion, but — this is a me and Alex Newhook song — but Animals by Nickelback. We usually listen to that right before we leave the room, which is kind of an inside joke but it gets you fired up.
A huge thank you to Matt for taking the time to sit down with us during what is surely a busy time!