The Boston College men’s hockey team is not 6-5-1 and 4-3-0 in Hockey East after another weekend of conference play. The Eagles hit the road for their two games over the weekend, so here’s some of what stood out from games 11 and 12 on the season.
MORE OF THE SAME
For the third weekend in a row, BC split their two games, coming from behind on Friday night to beat UConn before losing to UMass Lowell on Saturday night. These were two very different feeling games too. Friday night’s 2-1 win felt like it could have been a bit of a wider margin based on how BC played, while Saturday’s game felt like it was dominated by Lowell except for a few minutes at the end of the second period.
It’s just been a frustrating couple of weeks for BC, and I feel like I’ve used the word ‘frustrating’ a lot when describing this team. They just haven’t been able to string together results with any kind of consistency, but we’ll see glimpses of what they have to offer every now and again. The Eagles did basically nothing for the first 30 minutes against Lowell, falling behind 2-0 and looking like they were going to get blown out. Then for the last eight minutes of the second period, they started taking over and managed to tie things up going into the third. It was an encouraging stretch of play, and it was immediately undone after a slow start to the third period that saw Lowell regain their two-goal lead.
Consistency needs to be the name of the game going forward. BC has two games with a struggling Maine team on Thursday and Friday this week. Those have to be two wins. It’s time to start stringing some wins together and taking more than three points from these weekends.
Jerry York switched up his lines a bit for both of the games over the weekend and even if it didn’t always look great, I kind of liked the new groups, at least in theory. Patrick Giles was elevated to the first line next to Marc McLaughlin, which has been a pairing that has worked really well in the past. Colby Ambrosio, meanwhile, was bumped down to centering the third line. I like Ambrosio a lot, and even if this is a bit of a demotion, the bottom six has been desperate for more scoring, so I think this could work. Ambrosio did get a goal on Friday night, but it looked like it was during a bit of a line change where he was out with some different forwards than normal.
Meanwhile on the blue line, York reunited Drew Helleson and Marshall Warren on the top pair. These two are probably the two best defensemen on the roster, and while they’ve had success playing together in the past, I get why York wanted to try and split them up and spread the wealth a bit. I don’t mind putting them back together, though, but it’s going to be interesting to if York uses all of his pairings in a traditional way or if he leans heavily on Warren and Helleson.
Again, not everything worked perfectly this weekend, but I don’t mind switching things up and trying to get some different guys going a bit. We’ll see if these combos get another look next week or if it was just a temporary change to try and spark the team.
McBAIN STAYS HOT
It’s easy to be a bit frustrated with how the start of this season has gone, but Jack McBain’s play really does deserve all the praise that it’s gotten. I mentioned him a few weeks ago as someone who has really been carrying the offense early on, but his 16 points in 12 games has him comfortably in the lead for BC, five points clear of Marc McLaughlin.
McBain’s game winning goal against UConn was a classic play from the senior forward. He took a nice pass from Nikita Nesterenko to create some space on a two-on-two rush and used that space to fire off his wrist shot, which might be the best out of anyone on the team. It was also his sixth goal of the season, which ties his total from each of the past three seasons. I had some questions in the preseason about McBain’s ability to really drive a scoring line, but he’s been up to the task and then some so far. He’s played the best hockey of his BC career to start this season and he deserves all kinds of credit for that, even if the rest of the team has been struggling a bit.
DREW HELLESON PIMs UNEXPECTEDLY UP
One of the really strange things through the first 12 games has been the increased time that Drew Helleson has spent in the penalty box. The junior defenseman really doesn’t play the kind of game that would make you think he takes a lot of penalties, and before this season, he really didn’t. He took four six penalties in 28 games during his freshman season and just four last season in his 22 games. So it’s more than a little bit surprising that he’s already been whistled seven times in these first 12 games. He took three in one game last week against Merrimack and then took one in the third period against Lowell on Saturday that lead to Lowell’s eventual game winning goal.
What’s the sudden increase mean? Probably nothing. Helleson plays a ton of minutes and this is most likely just a bit of an anomaly that comes with a bit of a smaller sample size. But it could be playing a role in BC’s struggling penalty kill, as Helleson is one of the penalty killers that York relies on. It’s worth at least monitoring going forward even if it’s probably just a string of bad luck.