This season, Boston College men’s hockey gave fans a lot to talk about. Check out our hockey writers’ thoughts on the year below, and let us know what you’re thinking about the team in the comments!
How would you rate this season and why?
Laura: This was a rough year! I’ll give it a C- because that’s as harsh as I can be.
Steve: A 3 or a 4 out of 10 maybe? The team was bad and they were bad in a way that wasn’t even fun to watch most of the time. There were a few fun games here and there, but there’s only so much you can be positive about when you go a month and a half without winning a game.
Maithri: Ugh, this season was truly a tale of two different seasons. I’d rate the first half of the season a 6/10, since there were some good moments and it was just really fun to get back to games in person after not being able to do so last year. I’d rate the second half of the season a 4/10, and the only reason it’s not lower is because the last ~5ish games of the season weren’t terrible. So to average those out would make this season an extremely extremely mediocre 5/10.
Curtis: 4/10. They had a losing record and weren’t even competitive for a conference title, an NCAA bid, or the Beanpot. Some points for playing well against BU and UMass, as well as looking decent when McBain was active. But way more failures than successes.
How did this season shake out compare to your expectations?
Laura: I could never have expected such a lengthy winless streak in 2022 or so many losses in general. I definitely also did not expect BC to be in the bottom half of Hockey East. I wasn’t expecting this to be BC’s best year, but I was expecting the team to be good.
Steve: I thought there would be a noticeable step back, but in the end I believed this was a team that could find themselves around the tournament bubble if a few things broke the right way. I was apparently wildly optimistic.
Maithri: Not great! I honestly thought that this season would be just okay, and it seemed that way after the first semester — sure, they had some bad losses to Vermont, Bentley, and Colorado College, but they also had some good games against Quinnipiac, Northeastern, and Denver, followed by a dominant performance at the Ledyard Classic. And then they went winless in 2022 until February 18, facing some embarrassing blowout losses and digging themselves into a hole in Hockey East rankings that they couldn’t climb out of. Coming into the season, I thought that the defense would be the star of the show, considering how much experience was going to be on the blue line — but instead it turned out to be one of the bigger weaknesses, and combined with inconsistent goaltending turned out to be... really not good. The offense exceeded my expectations when everyone was healthy and playing, so that was nice at least!
Curtis: Here’s what I wrote in April 2021: “My expectations for next season are at the floor. If BC manages to get 4th or higher in Hockey East I’ll be pleasantly surprised. If they’re a bubble tournament team, I’ll be even happier. But realistically, those things won’t happen. The biggest focus for next season should be player development and preparing to be competitive for Hockey East 2 or 3 years down the road.” All in all, they fell a bit short of these expectations, but not wildly. The bigger test will be how they fare in the next 2 seasons, because player development didn’t look super promising this year.
How do you explain the way this season progressed?
Laura: I think there were a few things going on. First off, Eric Dop had some really great games this year, but he’s not an NHL caliber goalie like BC has had for many years now, and that is a big adjustment for a team and coaches to make. For the second half of the season, I also think losing McLaughlin, McBain and Helleson to the Olympics (and just the distraction of them being named to Olympic rosters before they even left) really affected the team - their return gave BC a big boost of energy. It also kind of just seemed like the coaches...didn’t know how to coach this group? The things BC struggled with stay consistent or got worse throughout the season, and at a certain point that’s on the coaches.
Steve: I really do think it’s as simple as there just wasn’t much talent on this roster. The guys at the top were all productive, but most of the grad transfers didn’t work out and the sophomore class that we were relying on to take a step forward really didn’t do that. And not to put all of the blame on one guy, because I think he had a nice end to the season, but when Eric Dop is posting a save percentage of below .900 until the last few games, your lose even more of your margin for error that was already pretty small due to a lack of talent.
Maithri: The Olympics!! First off it is absolutely incredible that this team had three Olympians in Marc McLaughlin, Jack McBain, and Drew Helleson, and I am so happy for the players that they got to take part in the Games. However I do think that it could’ve been a huge distraction — which, again, understandable — and that coupled with McBain’s injury at the beginning of 2022 was just where things began to spiral downwards quickly. It’s no coincidence that when the Games were over and everyone was back and playing, the Eagles went 4-2-0, even sweeping the defending national champions.
Curtis: With the huge exodus of talent last offseason, BC had to rely heavily on the success of veteran transfers. The performances of players like Eric Dop and Brandon Kruse, while not terrible, were certainly not the caliber they were expected to be and resulted in a lackluster record. Adding the absence of McBain, Helleson, and McLaughlin due to the Olympics (and injury) made for a terrible ~15 game streak to start 2022 that killed their season. Had the Eagles gone just .500 during that stretch, I’d be talking about how impressive it was that Jerry turned this mish-mash of players into a team that almost made the NCAAs.
What is one positive takeaway from this season?
Laura: BC certainly kept fighting to extend the season once they reached postseason time, and it was good to see that motivation!
Steve: Marshall Warren is an unbelievable skater and it was really fun to watch him with the puck on his stick all season.
Maithri: The team could be super resilient at times?
Curtis: The Eagles won the season series against BU. As far as rebuilding years with no NCAA expectations go, that’s one of the next best things you can accomplish (other than a Beanpot victory).
What concerns you most heading into next season?
Laura: Obviously just....which players will sign professional contracts and how that will affect the team. I also worry about whether or not having such a down year will make BC lose any recruits. Beyond that, I worry about BC’s defense - a lot of the defensemen on the team seem to focus too much on creating offense and not enough on playing clean defense.
Steve: Marc McLaughlin, Patrick Giles, and Jack McBain combined for 55 of the team’s 114 goals this year (about 48%) and they’re all gone next year. Even if the freshman class comes in ready to produce from day 1, that’s a lot of scoring to replace on a team that already didn’t score a ton.
Maithri: The defense. Despite having such a good defense on paper, they were slightly a mess all year — and they’re likely losing a solid amount of experience heading into next year. I don’t know if this is a coaching issue or something else that’ll be addressed in the offseason, but if it’s the same story next season then I’m definitely very concerned about it. Also, the discipline! I feel like I was seeing so many players taking game misconducts this year, putting the team at severe disadvantages. It’d be nice to have that figured out somehow heading into next season!
Curtis: Goaltending and defense. The defense will be a huge question mark with the likely losses of Helleson, Warren, and St. Ivany. There’s no obvious veteran blue-liner to anchor the defense next year if those 3 guys all leave.
Who is your MVP?
Laura: I’ll go with Jack St. Ivany. He was with the team for the whole season, and was pretty consistently good.
Steve: Jack McBain gets the nod over Marc McLaughlin but you could make a case for either one.
Maithri: Jack McBain, easily.
Curtis: Jack McBain and it’s not close. Just look at how they performed with and without him out there.
Who is your most improved player?
Laura: Casey Carreau made some big strides this season!
Steve: McBain went from 0.79 points per game last year all the way up to 1.38 as a senior.
Maithri: Maybe Jack St. Ivany?
Curtis: Eric Dop over the course of the season. He started out really shaky, but his performances against BU, UMass, and in the playoffs were miles better than previous outings and good enough to win each game.
What is your favorite memory from this season?
Laura: Sweeping UMass. The team and the fans really needed a weekend of wins, and BC played really well that weekend.
Steve: Probably the first home game of the season against Northeastern way back in October. Fans were allowed in for the first time in a while and all of the student sections were completely packed. The crowd was great and BC pulled off a nice win to keep some early season optimism going.
Maithri: Even though it was officially a tie, the game against BU at Agganis in December. Coming down from 2-0 to take a 3-2 lead was absolutely electric, and Agganis was *loud* owing to the BC fans that came to watch. Ending in a shootout win was super fun, and while it didn’t go down in the records as a win, it was a victory for our serotonin levels.
Curtis: Coming back from a 2-0 deficit at Agganis to eventually win in a shootout. Doesn’t get much better than beating the Terriers in their house, and I was lucky enough to have front row seats.
What are your expectations for next season?
Laura: I honestly have no idea? I always want to be optimistic about the teams I love most, so in my heart my expectations are always that BC will be a real contender. The roster for next season has talent, but the coaches need to figure out how to get the most out of the players and how to actually improve the team’s weak areas.
Steve: We’ll either need a couple of freshmen ready to contribute in big roles right away or guys like Nikita Nesterenko and Colby Ambrosio are really going to have to take the same kind of leap that Jack McBain took this season or it could be another long year.
Maithri: I’m really not sure. I feel like I’m expecting mediocrity for next season, even though I know that there’s a strong incoming freshman class, and there will still be upperclass experience on the roster despite players like McBain, McLaughlin, St. Ivany, Giles, etc. graduating. I’d really like to win a trophy, but I don’t know that I’m expecting it, necessarily. I guess I’m mostly expecting/hoping for a winning record next year!
Curtis: In 2 years, I expect them to be national championship contenders, so roughly 1-5 in PWR for 2023-24. They finished roughly 25-30 this past season. So let’s bridge the gap and say they better start improving to a tournament-capable team next season like this year maybe should’ve been, finishing somewhere between 13-17 in Pairwise. A lot of it will depend on if veteran players return, or if BC will be relying on the incoming freshman or transfers once again.