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Five Good Minutes With Boston College Hockey Radio Announcer Jon Rish

An interview with the voice of BC hockey

Dustin Satloff for BC Interruption

Last night, Jon Rish, the voice of Boston College Hockey on WEEI 850 AM/ the BC IMG Sports Radio Network, joined BC Interruption Radio to talk about the Eagles' hot start to the season. You can listen to the entire broadcast here, or read below for a transcript of our talk with Rish.

We're joined by Jon Rish, the voice of BC hockey on WEEI. If I remember correctly you were away from calling the games for a couple seasons and came back recently, right?

"That's right. There were a couple of years where I was working full time for Entercom, the parent company of WEEI. When the games switched over to 98.5 that kept me from doing them for two years and I really missed it, so I'm glad to be back."

It's good to have you back - your voice is recognizable with some great moments from BC and it's been a good partnership for how a long time ... how many years now?

"My first year was 1997-98 and I did color that year. For 98-99 I slid over and did play by play and have been doing it almost ever since."

You started right around the time of BC making a deep run every year started...so was it Jerry York or was it you?

"[laughs] That was all Jerry York, and, as Jerry would point out, a lot of good players along the way as well. I've seen a lot of different faces at BC hockey. When I came to BC as a student, for my freshman year I was there for the HEM line, Guerin and Brown - they were all that first year I came on campus. Then they all graduated or left and the next few years were pretty lean. I had no idea it would go as low as it did, then it just so happened I came back and got involved in the broadcast just as things were heading in the right direction."

For sure, and I think that things seem to be heading in the right direction this year by BC. There are high hopes for this team. Even though they've played a soft schedule, you can see that this team has a big edge over last year's.

"Absolutely. There is a very big difference between this year's team and last year, and it's not just one thing, it's several things. The one thing that jumps out you right away is the depth. They were starved for offense last year, and you were asking a lot out of freshman or sophomore players who were never in that position of being counted on night in and night out. Now those players are sophomores and juniors and you've complemented them with an influx of balance, and now they have that balance throughout four lines, which makes a huge difference.

The other huge difference is Thatcher Demko. I don't think Thatcher Demko was ever really 100% healthy last year. He looks completely healthy right now. Demko to me looks better than he ever has since coming to BC."

It's very noticeable. The biggest difference I've seen, you haven't seen him make a big highlight reel save because he hasn't had to. He seems to be in right position at all times.

"And that's his game. He's a big goaltender, he plays the position properly, and he's always in position. If you're always in position, you don't have to dive all over the place to make highlight reel saves. He's still faced some tough shots and he's looked very very good."

Someone else who's looked very good is Miles Wood. It's tough to find the words exactly to say. You can make the argument that he might be the most valuable forward on the team.

"I agree. He only has one speed and that's high speed. He's always moving. He surprises his opponents at how aggressive he is on the forecheck, and how fast he is - he's a big kid. To combine that tenacity, size and speed, that's a rare combination. You can't help but think that guy could have helped BC last year, which at one point in time was a possibility. But right now he's the most impactful freshman on the team, and they've got some good freshmen. Some of that has to do with his age, his maturity.

I couldn't help but think last night, Miles wood is not on one of your top two power play units on a regular basis. Wood saw some PP time Tuesday after Fitzgerald left, but that gives you an idea about the depth of this team. As good as Wood's playing, he can't crack the top 6 on the power play."

One dynamic that's changed with Bracco's departure, you go from having three full lines of NHL prospects, to now having Matt Gaudreau in there, who's not necessarily considered an NHL prospect, but he's passed his first two tests with flying colors.

"I've seen a lot of good players who were not pro prospects turn out to be pretty good college hockey players. Gaudreau could be one of those guys. A couple years ago when he played he looked a little out of place, and he was so small he'd get hit really hard. You're not seeing that as much anymore. He's a smarter player, a more experienced player. How is he going to fit on the third line? We're going to have to wait and see, but so far he's looked good.

More important to me is how is his replacement on the fourth line going to do, because they had a situation where they can roll out 4 lines in most situations and feel comfortable. The last couple games Travis Jeke has looked fine in that spot, but again, small sample size. We don't know the long term status of Brendan Silk. Gaudreau was going to be a 4th line guy, it's not him I' m concerned about - it's the guy who takes Gaudreau's spot. That's the impact I want to see."

It's only been two games but Jeke has played well, obviously scoring on Tuesday.

"I thought he did good work along the boards. He has a sneaky shot, a quick release, better than you might expect. He hasn't had a lot of opportunity during his career, but he's been around a while, and sometimes, those seniors, that experience means they're ready to go when they play."

Another player who's off to a good start, I've been a huge fan of BC captain Teddy Doherty since his freshman year. He has some of that kind of mentality to the game, he strikes me as a really good leader for this team - the type of player and person who's traditionally been a leader on BC teams that have won championships, and he's getting better and better as a player each season.

"I think he's a character guy, that's a good observation. I don't think you have to look back very far - a couple years ago, Doherty was having a hard time just getting in to the lineup. I'm sure in his mind he deserved more playing time, but he didn't get down, he was still that same team guy. When the opportunity came he made sure he was ready and seized that opportunity. I'm not sure I want to see him on the PK a lot, he's more oriented to the offensive part of the game, but I like his character and his perseverance - he's a perfect captain."

So let's talk about concerns for this team. Obviously things look great right now, but they've played a soft schedule. If you look at how it breaks down, they kind of have a soft schedule the whole rest of the semester. But you look at games coming up, it's Maine twice, Michigan State, UConn, RIT, quite a few games between now and the end of the semester BC would expect to win. It might take a while for this team to know what they have when you reach that stretch of the season when they play PC possibly 3x in a row and BU twice. That's also where we're going to see, guys that are playing above expectations, like Scott Savage and the two freshmen D - how well will they hold up in the teeth of the schedule?

"As far as concerns go, the biggest concern now, and this is a concern for most teams, is injury. They don't really have as much margin for error because they're one top level player short. If something were to happen, they have a little less depth than they thought they would. The guys in the lineup are balanced but there's not depth there beyond that. So they can't sustain significant injuries.

As far as the schedule goes: you figure out your nonconference games a long time ahead of time, and York tries to schedule as many big name programs as he can. How are you to know 3-4 years ago that Wisconsin or Colorado College are going through a down year, Michigan State - these are all programs where you figure you're going to get tested. That hasn't happened so far.


Then there's Hockey East itself. You've got 3-4 teams at the top... and then what else is there. I'm not sure yet. There's a whole bunch of teams that could say we could finish 5th, but are any of them really any good? Are they NCAA quality teams? I'm not really sure about that right now. I don't like saying that a bout Hockey East, but top to bottom this year, it's really top heavy. You've got those teams at the top, but after that I'm not sure who's going to test BC.

Quite frankly, UMass looked awful last night. They looked OK in spurts, but once they faced adversity, they just fell apart."

Quite a few teams look pretty shaky to start the season, Maine being one of them. That's going to be interesting - HEA generally has been deep year in and year out. NU is probably better than they've shown so far, UVM is probably better than they've shown, but it is probably going to be those top 3-4 teams contending for a tournament spot. That could be a concern as BC's season goes on.

Any other observations from the last two games, Denver and UMass, for this BC team, and how they might carry that forward in this stretch of games?

"It's a little bit of an odd schedule because you had a Friday game against Denver, Tuesday against UMass - which traditionally is a trap game. But BC didn't fall into that at all. Then you've got Friday and Sunday against Maine - 4 games in 8 days is an odd schedule for BC.

One of the things that's struck me in the early going - this is a very emotional team. They seem very close knit. When they beat DU on Friday night, the reaction at the end of the game, the way they flew off the bench - you would've thought they won the Beanpot. I don't mean that as a criticism, I mean that as a compliment. Sometimes the Eagles fans and players get very used to, even spoiled by, their success. That didn't happen last year as much, and this year's group seems very motivated, very emotional, and a tight knit group. That's a very good sign going forward."

Yeah, definitely - this team is feisty, right on down to Ryan Fitzgerald picking up a game DQ on Tuesday night. They're a team that's willing to stand up for one another; historically, BC has been one of the smaller and younger teams in college hockey. They're not so small anymore but they're still the youngest team. It's noteworthy that they're not going to back down physically from anyone.

"For sure. Two other things I'd mention before I go. One is: Alex Tuch, he's had a very slow start, he's still looking for his first goal. If you would have told me at this point of the season, 7 games in and Tuch has yet to score a goal, I would've thought BC was in big trouble. The fact that they're where they are right now, and Tuch hasn't scored a goal - it illustrates that this team doesn't need one player to generate offense in order to be successful. It's a matter of time for Tuch; he'll get his points sooner or later.

One other thing, Steve Santini - last year, he was never the same player after his injury. We kept waiting for Santini to be Santini. This is a guy who was a World Junior quality player before the injury.

This year, Santini is completely healthy and looks like a more experienced version of the player we saw as a freshman, which is a huge boost defensively for BC.

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Thanks to Jon Rish for joining us. You can listen to the BC Interruption Radio Show every Tuesday night; the Eastern Bias podcast weekly at easternbias.podbean.com; and Jon Rish for each and every BC hockey game either on the radio at WEEI 850 AM or BCEagles.com.