The Winter Olympics are coming up in a few weeks, and the Boston College men’s hockey team will be sending two players to compete. Junior defenseman Drew Helleson and senior forward Marc McLaughlin will be playing for team USA with a number of other college hockey players as the NHL is not participating in the games. BC’s season won’t pause during the Olympics, however, as the Eagles have six games between February 4th and the 20th, including both Beanpot games and four Hockey East games. There are also a few games right before and after those two weeks that the players might miss due to travel or practice time with the national team.
The absences are going to sting for BC, as McLaughlin and Helleson are both in the top four scorers on the team. McLaughlin’s 16 goals currently leads the team and actually accounts for over 20% of the goals that Boston College has scored this season. The Eagles are very thin at forward this season, and they’ve mostly relied on McLaughlin, Jack McBain, and one or two others for their scoring so far. It’s not quite as bad as a few seasons ago when it was pretty much just the line of David Cotton, Logan Hutsko, and Julius Mattila who could score, but it’s not a much better. The bottom six has mostly underwhelmed, and without McLaughlin for a few weeks, someone is going to need to step up.
The two names I’d be looking at to start contributing more would be the sophomores Trevor Kuntar and Colby Ambrosio. Neither have been bad this season, but it’s probably fair to say they’ve both underwhelmed a little bit. Kuntar has five goals and eight assists so far while Ambrosio has seven goals and six assists. Those are fine enough numbers for role players, but BC is going to need them to be a bit more than role players while McLaughlin is gone. It would also be nice to see Brandon Kruse start putting up a few more goals. He’s played well this season, with 17 points in 21 games, but he only has two goals and without McLaughlin, it would be a great time for him to pick up a few more.
Things will get interesting on the blue line as well, as Drew Helleson plays huge minutes in every situation. Helleson has two goals and 15 assists in his 20 games so far this season, already good for a career high. He’s going to be hard to replace, but BC does have a few options on their roster who can step in and play some third line minutes. Freshman Cade Alami has seen some action recently, skating in six games so far this season including the last two against UNH. Junior Mitch Andres has also seen plenty of action this season, though mostly in a limited role as the seventh defenseman. Neither Andres or Alami really look like someone who could step in and play on the top two pairs right now, however, but the Eagles should be able to role with a top four of Marshall Warren, Jack St. Ivany, Eamon Powell, and Aidan Hreschuk. Just like with McLaughlin up front, Helleson’s absence is going to be felt in every game, and it’s going to take someone else stepping up and contributing more to keep things from really getting off the rails. The Eagles really don’t have any room for error after their recent losing streak, and two weeks without some of their most important players won’t make things any easier going forward.