Now that we’ve had some time to digest that very heartbreaking end to the season, our men’s hockey crew is ready to share our thoughts about this season and our expectations for next year. Sound off with your own opinions in the comments!
This season was full of high highs and low lows. What was the highlight of the year for you?
Laura: I mean it’s gotta be the 9-6 BU game. That’s when I really had myself convinced the team was turning things around, even though I also still have not processed that game because of how wild it was.
Curtis: Jerry York night, of course. What’s better than crushing BU with 9 goals and honoring the GOAT of Boston College University?
Maithri: I can’t choose between the bonkers 9-6 win against BU and Frozen Fenway. I’d say the 9-6 win has the edge, but the Frozen Fenway vibes — and the jerseys — were so good!
Steve: Has to be that first BU game where every other shot BC took seemed to go in. There weren’t a ton of truly fun games this season, but that one was a blast pretty much from start to finish.
What is your biggest concern for this team heading into next season?
Laura: I think just the unknowns. I feel pretty good about the freshmen class’s ability to adapt, especially since so many of them have already played together, but being such a young team is always a question. Especially as we wait to see which players go pro, everything feels kind of up in the air. Assuming everyone who hasn’t signed yet comes back, I think goaltending is probably the biggest question mark - how much will Henry Wilder play? How quickly will Jacob Fowler adapt?
Curtis: The incoming freshmen can’t carry the entire load. I hope that they can hang on to enough players with meaningful experience to set the team up for success.
Maithri: Veteran leadership. I feel like it’s the first year in a while where I’ve been really worried about the current juniors leaving school early. The team is going to be infused with a lot of young talent next year, but as we find out every tournament season, young talent is simply not enough to carry a team through the entire year — teams need that perfect blend of purely skilled young players and veteran talent. BC had that perfect mix in the 19-20 season (rip, sorry) because guys like David Cotton, Julius Mattila, Jesper Mattila, and Logan Hutsko stuck around for longer than 2-3 years and could be relied on for goals while the freshman class adjusted to the NCAA. Hockey-wise, probably the penalty kill (which really put them at a disadvantage this season), or starting games on time — too often they were fighting from behind, and would play a phenomenal third period instead of a full 60 minutes.
Steve: They’ve got a great freshman class coming in that should give a boost to the top of the lineup, particularly if some guys end up leaving early, but the bottom of the lineup has to get better. There were long stretches of games this season where it felt like BC was putting out two forward lines that had no chance of scoring, and it’s hard to win consistently like that. That has to get better if the team is going to show meaningful improvement.
What impressed you the most during Greg Brown’s first season as head coach?
Laura: Even though the results didn’t reflect this so much in the second half of the season, I think the freshmen in particular showed a lot of improvement over the season, which shows that the players coming into BC and immediately being coached by him are developing and learning from him. I have high hopes for how he’ll continue to help this team grow.
Curtis: The development of players like Gasseau and Gustafsson throughout just one season was incredible. I have optimism that a few years into his tenure we’ll be having really well-developed players up and down the roster.
Maithri: I think how all the first year players progressively improved throughout the year! No one’s play really went downhill as the year went on? I can understand volatility with some of the older players because they were used to a certain way of playing before this year, and had to learn a new coach’s system. So I think seeing the freshmen who were only coached by Greg Brown steadily improve is a really good sign!
Also I feel like you could really tell the the players bought into Brown’s coaching this year — it was particularly evident in that last game against Merrimack, but there were moments (usually when they’re trailing in the third period) where they would turn up their effort so they wouldn’t go home with an L. And every player I talked to about him this year had nothing but wonderful things to say about him and his coaching style!
Steve: On a team that just didn’t look like it had many answers most nights, I appreciate that Brown kept looking for them. Brown was constantly juggling his lines in the hope that something would click and I actually think there were a few weekends where what he came up with really worked, even if it was only for a couple games.
Who is your MVP on the team?
Laura: This is a tough one. Cutter Gauthier was the leading scorer, but it felt like he kind of plateaued and didn’t show a lot of improvement over the season compared to the other underclassmen. Mitch Benson had some great games where kept BC in the mix, but he also had some tough outings. Can I say Greg Brown because I think he managed to keep the team’s spirits high even when they were in losing streaks? This team never stopped fighting, and like I said before, the improvement was clear in many of the young players in particular.
Curtis: Cutter come back!
Maithri: Cutter Gauthier, easily. Not only was he one of the best players on the team this year, he also elevated everyone he played with.
Steve: Yeah, it has to be Cutter. He looked like everything we were promised from the second he took the ice and it’s no surprise that he ended up as the team leader across the board in just about every scoring category.
Who do you think improved the most from last season to this season?
Laura: Eamon Powell for sure. He has grown into a really steady, consistent defenseman. I hope he gets the C for next year, he deserves it.
Curtis: Eamon Powell was a legit defenseman this season, which I wasn’t necessarily expecting. Big jump from last year.
Maithri: Eamon Powell. He truly was everywhere on the ice this year!
Steve: Eamon Powell went from a guy who looked like he was lost at times last season to (in my opinion) the team’s best defenseman by a pretty comfortable margin. I thought he was awesome this year and I’m excited to see if he can take another step in his senior campaign.
Which freshman are you most excited to watch as they continue to play at BC?
Laura: In the preseason roundtable I said I was most excited to watch Andre Gasseau, and that remains true. He grew so much as a player this year, and he’s absolutely going to score a bunch of very beautiful goals next year.
Curtis: Andre Gasseau could be a scary scoring threat sooner rather than later. He’s developed really well over the course of his freshman season.
Maithri: I can’t even pick one. Gauthier, obviously, if he sticks around, but definitely also Andre Gasseau and Lukas Gustafsson. Gasseau’s game really took off the second half of the year, and Gustafsson quietly had such a good freshman year!
Steve: Gauthier if he comes back, but assuming he goes pro, I’m looking forward to watching Lukas Gustafsson play more. Gustafsson was a player who clearly won the coaching staff over early and played a massive role as a freshman, so I’m looking forward to his continued development on the blue line.
What are your early expectations for next year?
Laura: My expectations are always high because that’s my brand, but with such a strong incoming class and some solid returning players I think BC is definitely going to make a huge jump from this season. (Unless a bunch more players sign pro contracts after I write this, then I will be more nervous.)
Curtis: If enough vets return, I’m expecting at least an NCAA tournament appearance. The incoming freshman class will put a team like this on a rocketship if they have enough of a supporting cast.
Maithri: Honestly, I don’t know. It’ll be really exciting to watch the new freshmen, but I’m cautious about putting too many expectations on them! Maybe my too-early expectation is that… we’ll have more scoring depth on the team which will be fun.
Steve: It’s so hard to tell before we know who’s leaving and who we can get as transfers, but if the freshman class can come in and live up to expectations, they should take a step forward at the very least. If some other players stick around and balance out the lineup, we could be looking at a pretty fun 2023-24 season where BC has a shot at some meaningful postseason hockey.
The Laura Classic - let’s end this with a song that best describes this season?
Laura: The Rise and Fall - Amy MacDonald. This year was a rollercoaster, and also this team deserved so much more than what they got.
Curtis: Way It Goes - Hippo Campus
Maithri: This is a struggle for me every year!! But I’ll do Don’t Feel Like Crying - Sigrid
Steve: Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen