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Boston College Men’s Hockey 2023-24 Midseason Roundtable

Boston College v Massachusetts-Lowell Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

It’s the holiday break, which means it is time for our hockey writers to share their thoughts about the men’s hockey season thus far. Let us know your opinions on the season in the comments!

How do you feel about BC’s record (13-3-1) so far this season?

Laura: I feel great about the team’s record so far. Obviously despite being so highly skilled, this is a young team, so to have only 3 losses is impressive. It’s also been reassuring to see that BC can compete with other top programs already this year. You simply cannot be mad about any record that routinely has the Eagles ranked at the top of the NCAA.

Curtis: I feel really good! I was hoping for a top-3 Hockey East finish and an NCAA tournament appearance, and they are on pace to go even further beyond that.

Steven: Hard to complain too much about a 13-3-1 first half of the season. They’ve looked really good more nights than not and they’ve put themselves in a great position headed into the second half, can’t ask for much more than that.

Curran: The first half of the season went about as positively as we could have hoped. I think we proved we have the talent to play with anyone in the country.

Maithri: I feel pretty good about being 13-3-1 so far! Going 7-1 in a pretty difficult non-conference slate is huge for pairwise implications when they come to matter in March, and 6-2-1 in Hockey East I think sets the team up well for when they get into the dregs of conference play.
For the most part, they’ve won the games they need to and won the games that were more of a toss up, which is a great spot to be in! I think there were tangible reasons for their three losses (and one tie), which just means that they have some parts of their game to tune up - but at least they’re specific things to work on.

What are you predictions for this team heading into 2024?

Laura: Obviously we’re all biased here, but I think things are only going to get better. World Juniors should help Cutter Gauthier and the freshmen to elevate their games even more. Also the energy of this team is that once games start getting really serious, the players will across the board do whatever they need to do to win.

Curtis: Call me a homer, but I’m expecting them to get even better. The freshman line is functioning like a machine now and they are going to start to play really important games against PC, BU, and others. That kind of schedule will help this young team get ready for the postseason.

Steven: I’m expecting some kind of trophy to be won from the Beanpot or Hockey East and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament to follow.

Curran: We are going to the Frozen Four, IF Cutter’s line starts to produce a bit more consistently at five on five.

Maithri: Ugh I hate making predictions because I feel like that means I have expectations (again, maybe this is just me protecting myself lol).
So mine will be a little different: I think World Juniors is going to be huge for this team going into 2024 — like last year, I feel like Cutter really hit his stride after he got back from the tournament. With seven Eagles on USA’s roster this year, there’s no reason to think differently — they’ll be gaining valuable experience and honing their skills against other elite players, which will only benefit them when they return to Hockey East play in January.

What about this team has impressed you the most so far?

Laura: So much about this team is impressive, but what stands out is how quickly the freshman have adjusted to playing in the NCAA. Particularly Jacob Fowler, who has played outstanding to BC despite being in the very high pressure position of being a freshman starting goaltender. Not only does the freshmen’s quick adjustment period speak to their skills, but also to the quality of the coaching staff and upperclassmen leadership.

Curtis: The young guys are already scoring at a blistering pace. I was expecting the first half of the season to be full of a lot of growing pains, but they basically blew past those pains within a couple weeks and are already playing like a championship contender.

Steven: The penalty kill has been so good for the entire season that I was actually a bit shocked when they finally allowed a goal in the last game against Providence. They’re the second best PK in the country right now and they’re only being outscored 5-3 when down a man, that’s pretty ridiculous.

Curran: The penalty kill has consistently been nails, looking hugely improved over last season has keeping the Eagles consistently in games.

Maithri: Their resilience, for sure. They’re never really out of games even when they fall behind, or give up a tying goal. They’ve been able to find ways to win even if they’re not playing their best game, which I think is a testament to the coaching & buy in on this team!

What would you like to see the team improve on in the second half of the season?

Laura: Really just … not having any more bad losses like the one to Northeastern? There isn’t anything that sticks out that this team is consistently bad at.

Curtis: The defense has definitely been suspect at times and can get outworked by a tougher opponent. They’ve generally played better than I thought they would, in large part to some great goaltending, but games against top end scoring talent like those guys down Comm Ave could look rough.

Steven: Just a little bit more scoring from the third and fourth line would be nice. They don’t need to be scoring every single game, but just taking some of the pressure of the top two lines would go a long way.

Curran: Turnovers in BC’s own end and at the blue line. Too often the team hems itself in its own zone by unforced errors or careless turnovers. Come tournament time, those turnovers can be killer.

Maithri: I feel like faceoffs have been a little bit of a concern lately leading to goals against so hopefully that’s something they can really work on in the second half! But other than that, I’d just say the tiny sloppy things that lead to defensive breakdowns — but I do think their play will clean itself up with experience. It’s already so much cleaner than it was at the beginning of the season, so I’d expect that to improve going forward.

Who is your MVP so far?

Laura: Jacob Fowler. As I mentioned already, being a freshman goaltender and playing every single minute is so high pressure, and Fowler never looks stressed. He’s definitely the best goaltender BC has had in ages, and being able to trust him allows BC’s offense to take more chances because they know a turnover isn’t an automatic goal against.

Curtis: Jacob Fowler is giving us strength where we need it most. You could take out any individual scorer and the team would still be very good on offense. But without Fowler, this team would be a lot worse. Major props for the freshman goalie.

Steven: There’s probably three or four good answers here, but Gabe Perreault has put up two or more points in nine of the 17 games so far this season and is leading the team in points. I’ll say him for now

Curran: I’ll go with Ryan Leonard, though there are several guys who probably deserve it. Leonard needs to cut down on his PIM, but he brings an edge and a physicality that is awesome to watch. He simply looks like a threat every time he’s on the ice; guys can’t guard him. Of course, I’ll also shout out Gauthier; he’s shooting everything he touches and I think he’s gonna catch fire in the second half.

Maithri: I really cannot choose! Gabe Perreault and Jacob Fowler immediately come to mind, but so many players have had such a huge impact on the team. Maybe my MVP is the attitude of this team — everyone so obviously wants to be an Eagle, and that’s translating on the ice.

Which player is your most improved so far?

Laura: I think Oskar Jellvik has made big strides this season. He’s scored some absolutely fantastic goals, and he’s always a noticeable presence when he’s on the ice.

Curtis: Oskar Jellvik! What a player! He’s gone from a promising freshman to a crucial sophomore in a short period of time. Getting quality offense from him will be really beneficial in the long run.

Steven: It probably has to be Oskar Jellvik just based on the fact that he’s basically doubled his scoring pace from his freshman season. He was snake bitten for a while in his first season at BC, but he’s finding the net regularly now and he’s earned his spot in the lineup next to Cutter Gauthier.

Curran: The answer has to be Oskar Jellvik. The Bruins draft pick has just looked like a different animal this year, and he looks better playing alongside Gauthier every game. He’s got 9 goals and 8 assists already this season, after scoring two third-period goals against Providence to seal the win.

Maithri: Oskar Jellvik! He was already coming into his own a bit at the end of last season, but he has really taken such a huge leap this year.

What do you think of the freshman class so far?

Laura: What is there to do besides quote Lady Gaga? “Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show-stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, never been done before.”

Curtis: They are basically everything I could’ve asked for. The top freshman line is one of the best in the country and has even been outplaying Cutter’s line in recent weeks. With Fowler backing them up in net, this is exactly the kind of boost BC hockey has been needing.

Steven: The big three forwards have been every bit as good as advertised but just about all of the freshmen that have been in the lineup have been extremely impressive. It’s not fair to say that the freshmen are the only reason that BC is where they are right now, but they’ve been doing a lot of the heavy lifting so far.

Curran: They have blown all expectations out of the water. Yes, the Kid Line has drawn a lot of attention and are consistently the Eagles’ top line, but Fortescue and Minnetian have been great on the D-line and Fowler is a consistent force in net. Will Vote gives consistent minutes on the third line, although if he and his line mates can start producing offensively this team will be very hard to beat.

Maithri: I think they’ve exceeded expectations! I was expecting a bit of an adjustment period as there usually is for freshmen — but they’ve adjusted to college hockey quickly and are already huge contributors as we obviously know. I’m so happy they’re here!

What has been BC’s biggest game for you so far?

Laura: Maybe it’s recency bias, but the 5-4 win over Providence heading into the break was huge. It was a win against another ranked team, that also happens to be a Hockey East rival, and it was good to see the Eagles stage a third period comeback.

Curtis: It might be recency bias, but their last one against Providence was a really, really good win. It showed me that they can hunker down and find a way to win a tough game against a great opponent, even when things are starting to fall apart. The exact kind of mental fortitude they’ll need to win big games.

Steven: The have been a bunch of great ones but the two game sweep against Michigan State still stands out as the most impressed I’ve been with the team thus far.

Curran: The Providence win, and specifically the third period. After blowing the lead, it showed a lot of character for the guys to come roaring back against a gritty, well-coached top ten opponent.

Maithri: Oh man, this is tough. Maybe this is my recency bias speaking but the Providence game? Essentially saying “no, we don’t think we’ll lose tonight” when the Friars took the lead and battling for the 5-4 win in regulation against another top ten team was pretty big.