The Boston College men’s hockey team is off to a strong start this season, with wins in their first two games against Quinnipiac and Long Island. There’s a whole bunch of new faces playing for the Eagles this year and plenty of questions that still need to be answered, so let’s take a look at some of what has stood out through the first two games.
JACK MALONE STEPPING UP
Jack Malone has had a very nice start to his BC career. The graduate transfer from Cornell has a goal and an assist in two games while he has been skating on a line with Cutter Gauthier and Andre Gasseau. And he’s looked good in a bunch of different areas. He was a noticeable presence on the forecheck in the opener against Quinnipiac and he’s been a big part of the penalty kill that has started the season with eleven straight successful kills. He’s strong on the puck and through two games, it certainly seems like he plays with a high motor. Just take a look at his first goal as an Eagle from Friday night’s game against Long Island.
It’s a nice shot to finish the play for sure, but look how far he has to go to get back into the play after he makes a pass on the boards just outside of the defensive zone. He’s just about a full zone behind the puck when he gets moving again, but he’s able to get back in the play almost immediately and find some space to take the pass from Gasseau. That’s a heck of an effort from Malone and as long as he keeps that up, that top line is going to continue to look dangerous.
FRESHMEN PASS FIRST TESTS
There are a bunch of freshmen in BC’s lineup right now. The Eagles had four freshman forwards, two freshman defensemen, and a freshman goalie play in both of their first two games, and barring something unforeseen, that’s how things are going to look pretty much every game going forward. And so far, they’ve mostly been about as good as we could have hoped for.
Let’s start with maybe the most important freshman this year, goalie Jacob Fowler. Fowler was fantastic in the season opener against Quinnipiac. In the second period and for most of the third, it looked like he was going to steal BC a win in regulation. Against Long Island, he let in one goal that he’d probably want back and wasn’t super busy for much of the game, but he made a few big time plays in the third to keep the two-goal lead in tact. After two years of stopgaps in net, it’s great to have what appears to be a long term solution between the pipes.
Up front, the freshman line of Ryan Leonard, Will Smith, and Gabe Perreault has been held without a goal so far, though honestly, I’m not entirely sure how. Their line is constantly generating scoring chances and it feels like they’ve got a big breakout game coming in the near future. Will Vote has been less noticeable on the third line, but he hasn’t been playing poorly at all. He’s still looking for his first collegiate point, but his line looked dangerous in the second and third periods against Long Island, so it shouldn’t be too long before he gets on the scoresheet.
Finally, the two rookie defensemen, Drew Fortescue and Aram Minnetian, have been asked to play big minutes early on in their careers and both have been up to the task. Fortescue’s skill was noticeable on his goal on Friday night, when he made a great play to keep the puck in at the blue line before firing a great shot from the top of the circles. Minnetian hasn’t had any moments quite as flashy as Fortescue, but he already looks like a plus skater with some impressive puck skills.
The Eagles are relying heavily on their freshman class to produce this season and any kind of run they make this season is going to be at least partially on the backs of what these seven players can do. Through two games, there’s a lot of reasons for optimism surrounding this class.
CUTTER GAUTHIER FIRING FROM ANYWHERE
Cutter Gauthier was BC’s leading scorer last season and based on his first two games, he is looking to repeat in his sophomore season. Gauthier leads the team with 19 shots on goal, 12 more than the duo of Ryan Leonard and Colby Ambrosio who are in second place. Gauthier has probably sent half a dozen or so shots wide of the net, so his total could be a bit higher as well. Gauthier’s shot has always been one of the best parts of his game and his ability to beat goalies from distance was often the only thing that kept BC in games last year. If he keeps shooting at this rate, he should easily top his 16 goals from last season.
ONE FINAL SHOUTOUT TO THE STUDENTS
Absolutely amazing showing from the students on Friday night. Every student section was packed well before puck drop and they were loud all night. It’s been a couple years since we’ve had that kind of an atmosphere at a BC hockey game and while there’s clearly a good chunk of students who don’t fully know the goal chant yet (they’ll get there), Friday night was about as fun as it’s been in a while at one of these games. Hopefully they can keep it up all year.