Boston College men’s hockey takes to the ice for the first time tomorrow night at 7:30 PM, when they take on Holy Cross in exhibition play.
Here’s what we’ll be watching for as we try to get an idea of what the Eagles will look like this season:
-Who’s the sixth forward on the top two lines?: In his excellent season preview, the Boston College Hockey Blog reports, based on what he’s hearing from practice, suggests that BC has five really excellent forwards they believe they can count on to be top-six players this year: Colby Ambrosio; Trevor Kuntar; Nikita Nesterenko; Cutter Gauthier; and Oskar Jellvik.
A big unknown is who slots in on the wing on the second line, and we’ll get a first look at who Brown tries out in a larger role this year.
Possibilities may include freshman Andre Gasseau, a USNTDP alum and Bruins draft pick who bounced back from injury last year to have a solid season in the USHL with the Fargo Force; Mike Posma and Matt Argentina, two role players who showed some flash in their freshman year but struggled with consistency; or perhaps one of the grad transfers, Cam Burke or Christian O’Neill, who come in with limited goalscoring resumes but extensive experience and leadership.
-Getting a look at Oskar Jellvik: Everyone knows and expects Cutter Gauthier to be one of the best freshmen in college hockey, and any successful season for BC includes Gauthier being a leading player. But another intriguing but more under-the-radar freshman to keep an eye on is Oskar Jellvik, who will likely anchor BC’s second line.
Oskar Jellvik with a sweet finish for his second goal of the scrimmage. pic.twitter.com/FFxPahyBrW— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) July 15, 2022
Jellvik has become a bit of a trendy prospect this summer after being widely considered one of the more impressive players at Boston Bruins development camp. Jellvik, of Sweden, was drafted in the 5th round in 2021 by Boston, and has been on the Swedish youth national team radar throughout his career.
Reports on Jellvik are that he’s not the biggest player at 5’11’’, but he has savvy, patience and playmaking skills that bring out the best in his linemates. We certainly love players like that at BC.
He’s still young, so time will tell if he’s ready to be a true top six presence at the NCAA level just yet - but if he is, that would make a huge difference for the Eagles.
-Marshall Warren’s role. The exhibition probably won’t tell us much about what the ice time breakdown will look like when the games count, but this will be our first look at what Marshall Warren will be asked to do under Coach Brown. It’s widely anticipated that Warren will play huge minutes this year and will likely be asked to play a role in both generating offense and being a presence in the defensive end.
At his best, Warren has looked like someone ready to contend for All-American status with elite playmaking skill, speed, and a sneaky good shot.
Marshall Warren putting it only where the cookies go...to shelf. pic.twitter.com/dKkV0X99rm— Brian Berard (@RockyBerard) October 12, 2019
Of course, as you can see from this video, BC’s reliance on Warren to create offense often leads to him being deep in the offensive zone - making it a challenge some times to track back and also be a force defensively.
BC’s going to need Warren to be Mr. Everything and be able to do both this year.
-A first look at Mitch Benson at BC. If you’ve watched a lot of Colgate hockey, congratulations, you can give us the scouting report. But for most of us this will be our first time closely watching Mitch Benson, who we’d expect to start tomorrow night between the pipes for the Eagles.
Benson was very solid for Colgate, even in 2019 when his team struggled mightily. An upgrade in team goaltending statistics this year would make a huge difference for a team that was one of the worst in Hockey East last year in terms of goals allowed.
-Style and structure on special teams. We’ve belly-ached about BC’s special teams inconsistencies in recent years, so it will be a good opportunity here to potentially see how BC lines up and approaches special teams under Greg Brown. In particular, on paper, BC should have a really good power play, with Marshall Warren and take your pick of four of BC’s big top five forwards.
But despite being stout on paper, the power play has often struggled in recent years particularly with zone entries and getting set up effectively in the attacking zone, with much of the success seeming to come off the rush. Will this trend continue, or can BC do a better job of getting things set up and allowing playmakers like Gauthier, Jellvik and Nesterenko to make slick passes, find openings, and create some offense?