We’re back with some midweek thoughts about the Boston College men’s hockey team after a long stretch involving a bunch of midweek games. After a winless streak that lasted almost a full month, the Eagles have picked up wins in their last three games, so the vibes around the team are a bit more positive than they have been in a while.
TOP SIX CLICKING
Finally, after what feels like an entire season of testing different combinations, it feels like BC has found a combination of forwards that is working on their top two lines. The team has been struggling to score all year, but they’ve put up 14 goals in their last three games, and a large part of that is because their top six has been producing.
The top line of Cutter Gauthier, Andre Gasseau, and Trevor Kuntar has been together for a little while now, and it’s working pretty well. Gauthier has cooled down a bit on the goal scoring front after he was red hot for a while in the middle of the season, but his linemates have been helping out. Gasseau scored the game winning goal last Monday in the consolation game of the Beanpot to knock off BU and has generally been having a very strong freshman season. He’s fourth on the team in points and has eight in his last six games, so it’s good to see him coming on late in the season.
Trevor Kuntar, meanwhile, has been playing the best hockey we’ve ever seen from him over the past few weeks, at least in my eyes. He has five goals in his last six games, and his two-goal performance against UMass on Saturday night might have been the best game he’s ever played at BC. Kuntar is up to 13 goals on the season, just one behind Gauthier for the team lead, and he’s turned into a real threat on the power play, with a team leading six goals while on the man advantage.
The second line has been made up of Colby Ambrosio, Nikita Nesterenko, and Oskar Jellvik the past few weeks, and the trio ran UMass out of the building on Friday night. Nesterenko had a hat trick while Ambrosio and Jellvik had a goal each in what was by far their best showing since being put together. They were kept off the board on Saturday night, but they combined for an early goal against BU last Monday and have looked good for the most part. Nesterenko and Ambrosio have been good players for BC for a while, but it’s felt like the team has needed a bit more from them this season, so it’s nice to see them starting to click as we get closer to the Hockey East Tournament. Jellvik is a good player trapped behind a ridiculously low 3.8 shooting percentage, but he finally got his second goal of the season on Friday and will hopefully see that number come up a bit more. This BC team has badly, badly needed some kind of balanced scoring all season, so having two lines that can score consistently would be a huge step in the right direction.
LUKAS GUSTAFSSON MISSING TIME
Freshman defenseman Lukas Gustafsson took a bad hit in Friday night’s game and was out of the lineup on Saturday night. There’s no getting around the fact that this would be just a huge loss for the Eagles if he’s out for much longer, as it’s pretty clear that even when he is in the lineup, the coaching staff doesn’t have six defensemen that they trust to take regular shifts.
Gustafsson has probably been the best freshman outside of Cutter Gauthier this season, and he’s clearly won the trust of Greg Brown and the rest of his staff. He plays huge minutes, skates with multiple partners, and has been an important part of a second power play unit that has been pretty successful all season. Losing him would be an absolute killer for the blue line, so let’s hope he’s back in the lineup before too long.
FOURTH LINE FINALLY WORKS
With the top two lines seemingly having been sorted out, the bottom of the lineup had a pretty strong weekend for themselves as well. Specifically, the new look fourth line had a goal in each of the two games against UMass and made a strong case that they should stay together over the final weekends of the season.
Mike Posma scored the second goal of the game on Friday night and Connor Joyce gave BC an insurance goal on Saturday while Will Traeger got his first real look over the weekend and picked up an assist on Friday for his first collegiate point. The trio looked pretty good over the weekend, and that just hasn’t been the case for the third or fourth lines for too many games this season. These guys don’t need to be scoring every night, but it’s so beneficial when they can chip in offensively. The spots on the fourth line have been up for grabs pretty much all year with different guys coming in and out of the lineup, but this combination should get a look for at least another game or two to see if they can continue clicking as they did against UMass.
MARSHALL WARREN USING HIS STRENGTH
Marshall Warren’s senior season has been a little bit hit or miss for me, and his scoring is down pretty significantly from last year, but man, it’s still such a joy to watch him skate.
5️⃣ makes it 5️⃣— BC Men's Hockey (@BC_MHockey) February 18, 2023
The shot at the end is nice as well, but Warren’s biggest strength has always been his skating ability, and it’s on full display here. Put him in space with the puck on his stick and he’s an incredibly dangerous skater and just ridiculously fun to watch.