It’s almost men’s hockey season, so our hockey writers sat down to share their thoughts about the upcoming season. Make sure to share your own expectations for Greg Brown’s first year as head coach down in the comments!
What is your overall prediction for this season?
Laura: I think we can expect a fairly similar season to last year, unfortunately. I’m hoping BC will end up at least at .500 this season, but I don’t think we should expect a huge jump from last season’s outcome. The talent level on offense and defense has remained pretty similar, with some good freshmen coming in while also losing some players to graduation/pro contracts, and goaltending is still a big question mark.
Curtis: I expect BC to be a bit better than last season and to finish somewhere around 5th to 7th in Hockey East. A lot of this rides on goaltending, as we can only hope Mitch Benson performs better than Eric Dop.
Steven: I think the team will end up being a bit better than last year, but not good enough to ever be considered a contender even within Hockey East.
Maithri: I think this season will be... fine? I’m excited for the Greg Brown era to begin, but figure that it will take a few weeks for the team to find their groove. I can see the team finishing in the middle of the Hockey East standings and maybe making a little run in the conference tournament. But overall, I think they’ll be just okay.
What is the baseline that would make you count this season as a success?
Laura: I think my criteria for success are lower than usual this season because I want to give Greg Brown the time to make this program his own. It isn’t realistic to expect him to come in and automatically fix all of this team’s issues or turn the program back into a title contender in year one. Because of this, I don’t really have specific numbers or wins that I want to measure success by this year. Instead, I think a successful year one for Greg Brown is one where fans can see that some of the program’s bigger issues (like defensive consistency or converting on power plays) show steady improvement over the year.
Curtis: Success for me would be top-6 in Hockey East and looking like there’s a lot of room to grow. I don’t expect Greg Brown to set the world on fire in year 1, just to set himself up well to compete in the next few.
Steven: Pushing for a top 4 spot in the conference and seeing some of the players who hit a bit of a wall last year (Powell, Nesterenko, Ambrosio) get back into form and continue to improve their game. A Beanpot win would be nice too
Maithri: Honestly just some more energetic and exciting games. Last season felt like a chore to watch at times, so I’d count this season as a success if the games are fun (& competitive) at the very least.
Who is your predicted MVP?
Laura: I think we’ll see either Colby Ambrosio or Nikita Nesterenko make a big jump in their play this year to lead the team in points and earn the MVP title.
Curtis: Marshall Warren is going to be the anchor of a transitioning defense. He’s my pick.
Steven: Cutter Gauthier.
Maithri: Hmm, I’ll go with Marshall Warren.
Who do you think will be the most improved returning player?
Laura: Marshall Warren is already a good player, but I think that Coach Brown is going to be able to help him bring his game to the next level in terms of figuring out when to hang back on defensive, and when to take advantage of his speed to try for scoring plays.
Curtis: Colby Ambrosio is ready to POP! He’s shown the past two seasons that he has all of the tools to be a terrific scorer, now it’s time for him to put it together.
Steven: I liked most of what I saw from Aidan Hreschuk last season, and he should be playing in an even bigger role this year, so I’ll say him.
Maithri: I’m gonna go with Nikita Nesterenko — he’s shown flashes of being great, and I would love to see him fully break out this year.
Which freshman are you most excited to watch?
Laura: Cutter Gauthier is the obvious answer and of course I am excited for him, but I’m also excited for Andre Gasseau. He hasn’t historically been a huge scorer, but he’s a tall center with a strong shot, and I can’t help but hope he develops similarly to Marc McLaughlin as a player (especially since Gasseau is a Bruins draft pick). It’s tough for me to get too hyped up for a player like Gauthier that we already know is leaving for the pros after this season.
Curtis: Cutter Gauthier, of course. No disrespect to the others, but Gauthier’s talent is special and I can’t wait to see what he brings to BC.
Steven: Cutter Gauthier by a mile.
Maithri: Cutter Gauthier. I mean, everyone’s been talking about him for a while!
What do you see as Greg Brown’s biggest challenge in his first season as head coach?
Laura: Goaltending is going to be a question for this team again this year, and I think that is going to be Brown’s biggest challenge. Previously at BC, he worked with defense and special teams, so while those are both areas that need improvement, they’re more in his wheelhouse. Working with Coach Ayers on trying to get solid, consistent goaltending is going to be a newer type of challenge for Brown.
Curtis: Figuring out where Jerry York was failing in his last few seasons, but not turning the whole thing upside down. Greg Brown is the perfect hire to do it, but it will be challenging nonetheless to follow up a legend.
Steven: Finding a way to fix the scoring depth that was non-existent to a painful extent last season.
Maithri: I think maybe the team adjusting to any new systems of play. While we know Brown is planning on keeping things fairly similar to Jerry York, there’s probably still going to be a period of adjustment to Brown’s style of coaching and systems that he wants to implement.
What do you think will be BC’s biggest strength this season?
Laura: The guys that can score are going to score some really beautiful goals. Obviously Gauthier is the guy everyone has their eyes on, but Ambrosio, Nesterenko, and Trevor Kuntar have the skills if they can just be a little more controlled with their scoring chances than they were last year, and Warren is also always good for some fun goals.
Curtis: Their top scoring lines. Gauthier, Nesterenko, Kuntar, Ambrosio, and others will get the job done on their side of the ice despite the loss of Jack McBain. Looking at other parts of the team, the defense is thin and the goaltending is unpredictable.
Steven: Based on some of my previous answers, I think it’s pretty clear that I’m really high on Cutter Gauthier. If his move to center works, we could have an awesome first line on our hands.
Maithri: I’m not sure, honestly. Greg Brown does have a real strength coaching defense which has had a lot of room for improvement over the past few years, so maybe that’ll end up being BC’s biggest strength as he implements the defensive systems that he knows.
BC also lost a lot of their offensive production from last year with the graduation of Marc McLaughlin & Jack McBain in particular, but if the arrivals of Gauthier, Andre Gasseau, and Oskar Jellvik start off strong it’s possible the offense can be a strength especially combined with the experience that’s also returning to the roster.
Please link to a song that describes how you feel heading into Greg Brown Season:
Laura: Heaven/Hell by CHVRCHES - I’m so excited for Brown to be back on the Heights, but I am nervous for how this year is going to go
Curtis: Fly Like an Eagle by Steve Miller Band
Steven: Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry
Maithri: Entering BCMIH’s reputation era: ...Ready for It? by Taylor Swift