1. Quickly, overall impressions of the season so far? Has performance been above your expectations, below, or right about what you expected?
Joe Gravellese: I'd say the performance has been right about where I expected, with the caveat being that I expected them to have one more elite goal-scoring/playmaking freshman. I'm not entirely sure that I expected them to go in to the break with just two losses, but it doesn't surprise me given how soft the schedule was.
Overall, you have to be happy with the record, and with the team's attacking depth. I think they have a lot to prove in the second half of the season, but they've put themselves right back in the national conversation after a year of being a fringe tournament team.
Laura Berestecki: We've won more games that I expected for sure. Performance has been slightly above my expectations with the exception of the last few games, but there's almost always a little December winter slump, so I'm not too concerned. My impression thus far is that the team is skilled and has a lot of chemistry, but is not always consistent from period to period.
Grant Salzano: Things have been... I guess slightly better, overall, when you consider the record, but maybe more where we expected when you consider how soft the schedule has turned out to be. I thought we would be pretty good, in the top half of the tournament picture... and that's exactly where we are. We have the two losses and one tie which is great but with how soft the schedule is, that probably puts us where we thought we'd be had we really known that going into things.
Arthur Bailin: I think there's a lot to like with this team. Thatcher Demko has been lights out, and the offense has been as advertised. I've been really impressed with how quick this team has become, especially with the speed of Miles Wood and Colin White.
2. Which player has exceeded expectations the most so far this season?
JG: Matt Gaudreau is the obvious answer though I'll put in a word for Colin White as well. He's scoring at a Jack Eichel pace right now. Remember at the pre-season roundtable, Grant said he was hoping that the overall freshman class would have an Eichel-like impact... they've gotten that from one guy (and Wood has been a baller too).
Obviously I'm not saying White is Eichel (settle down BU fans!) and I'm sure he won't keep up with Eichel's Hobey-winning pace down the stretch, but his impact has been profound.
LB: Matt Gaudreau has got to be everyone's number one right? Casey Fitzgerald has also been better than I expected, and obviously Colin White is doing big things.
GS: It's of course Matty Gaudreau, with a tip of the cap to Austin Cangelosi. Gaudreau has stepped in and has produced more, on average, than Bracco did in the same spot. Good for him, because Gaudreau has become everything you look for in a BC hockey player - willing to grind, willing to work hard, willing to play where he's needed, improved his game, and is now reaping the benefits.
AB: I mean, can anyone really say anyone except for Matty Gaudreau? He, almost overnight, has gone from third line forward to a reliable scorer. He's almost Daniel Murphy-like in his surge, in that it sort of came out of nowhere.
3. Who do you expect to see more out of in the second half?
JG: I pegged Zach Sanford as BC's MVP in my preseason ramblings and I think he can be the MVP of the second half. That whole line has had fits and starts, and I'm wondering if York might break them up in the second half and see if they can get hot individually.
LB: Tuch seems to have finally figured out how to contribute more offensively this season, so I'm hoping he'll be putting up bigger numbers in the second half.
GS: We're all going to say Tuch, right? We all talked about his slow start but he's picked things up a bit. If you can get what you got out of him last year, we're looking at an even more well-rounded team than we got in the first half.
AB: I'll agree with Laura and say it is Alex Tuch. He has been rather quiet in terms of goal scoring, and I'd like to see more out of him. It isn't really anything to get worked up over, however. He'll come back.
4. What do you see as BC's biggest strength going in to the toughest part of the schedule?
JG: Just the depth in scoring - it's so crucial. Players are naturally going to be streaky at this age and at this level (and also because #math). To have two other lines to pick up the scoring if one is struggling is so important, especially when we get in to the grind of the HEA schedule, facing a lot of physical teams that, when doing it right, prevent the game from opening up in to track meets.
LB: Resiliency. Sure, our last three games were 1-1-1, but in general the team has shown that they're not going to quit when they're down. Since we have a young group this season, I also think this might be a team that will perform a bit better against tougher teams because they'll be more amped up / will take the preparation more seriously.
GS: If you had asked me a month ago I would have said the team's defense, because they were shutting teams down at a pretty wild rate. But that's kind of regressed to where we expected. In net, Demko has been excellent (but again, his stats are regressing to the mean).
I think BC's strength is going to be in the development of its freshmen. They've done really, really well to start things off, and now that they are fully adjusted to the speed of the college game, I really think you might see them continue their current scoring clip despite the improved competition.
AB: Easily the biggest strength is up front. Going into the season, I was really looking forward to watching [NAME REDACTED] because of some of the tape I was watching of him. Obviously he is no longer on the team, taking his assisting prowess with him, and I never saw him materialize. Colin White and Miles Wood did not fall short in making up for the disappointment. They are a delight to watch. They have fantastic hockey minds, and they are only going to get better. With those two guys, and the other forwards, BC is going to be a tough team to defend against.
Return tomorrow for part 2!