Note: The winner of this division will meet the winner of the Football Division (Tyler Murphy's 66-yard touchdown run against USC) for the right to claim the Boston College 2014 Championship:
A note before we get into the hockey matchups: there's no Beanpot championship. Personally speaking, the Beanpot last year was BC's to lose—BU was in the midst of its worst year possibly ever, Harvard stunk, and Northeastern AHAHAHAHHAHAHA. So winning the Beanpot wasn't a huge deal in 2014.
Second, this bracket resembles one of those regions during March Madness that's completely top heavy. You look at the bracket and any one of four or five teams can win it, but everyone else is playing to be eliminated by one of those teams. Two years ago, this happened in basketball's Midwest Regional. The top eight teams all made it through the first round, with the exception of #12 Oregon (who picked up the 5-12 upset special that year). The top three teams made the Sweet Sixteen (with Oregon upsetting #4 Saint Louis), and the top two teams (Louisville and Duke) made the Regional Final.
That said, let's jump right into the bracket and see where it takes us:
1) Gaudreauby Baker
8) Demko, McCoshen, and Santini part of fifth place USA result at WJCs
The 2014 World Junior U20 Championship was a major disappointment for the United States. USA entered '14 with medals in three of the previous four tournaments, including gold in 2010 and 2013. The defending champions, they were also only two years removed from a trip to the relegation round, something overlooked easily through the successes. 3-1 through group play, they drew Russia in the Quarterfinals—and promptly surrendered a 3-2 lead to lose 5-3. Thatcher Demko didn't play in that game (Providence's Jon Gilles did), but the trio was part of a major disappointment for American junior hockey. McCoshen and Demko are getting another crack at a medal this year.
That goes up against the most dynamic hockey player possibly in BC history. Johnny Gaudreau all but redefined Boston College hockey on his own, scoring 175 career points in 119 games. His assist total (44) accounted for more points than what all but seven other players had for goals and assists combined. Of those seven who had more points than he had assists, two—Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes—played on his line. He sewed up the Hobey Baker essentially by Christmas and continually added to a legacy that began with his highlight reel goal in 2012.
Like I said at the top, this is a top heavy bracket that isn't likely to see low seeds lose. It certainly doesn't happen here. Winner: Gaudreuby Baker
2) Union upends Boston College in the Frozen Four.
7) Gaudreau scores first NHL goal against Vancouver.
Johnny Hockey lands as the #7 seed here for his first exploit after leaving Boston College. On his first and only shot of his first professional game with the Calgary Flames, Gaudreau added to his legacy by scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks. It was the moment where our Johnny Gaudreau became Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau. To that moment, he was nothing more than a ball of potential destroying the collegiate ranks. After that moment, he was a hockey player off on his way to stardom. After a slow start in '14-'15, he scored 30 points in his first 40 or so games. It's an impressive total, but this is where it began.
Johnny's first goal faces off with Union's victory over Boston College in the Frozen Four. Though it was a heartbreaker because it was the final time we'd see Gaudreau skating with Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold, it was one of the best games of the tournament. Union took a 2-1 lead in the second period before Steve Santini tied the game after 40 minutes of play. In the third, Daniel Ciampini scored on the power play to give the Dutch at 3-2 lead, increased to 4-2 when local boy Mike Vecchione scored. At 4-2 with the extra attacker on, Ryan Fitzgerald struck with under two minutes to go, making the score 4-3. But Ciampini scored a hat trick goal 35 seconds later to give Union the game, 5-3...or so we thought.
Patrick Brown scored with under five seconds left in the game, and Gaudreau nearly put the game-tying goal past goalie Colin Stevens. The most amazing thing of this game isn't that Gaudreau almost scored; the most shocking part is that none of us were remotely shocked by this happening. If there were four seconds left, it was simply too much time for a team facing Johnny Hockey. It was a back-and-forth, well-played game, up-ended maybe only by the UMass-Lowell game played before it. Maybe I should stop myself before I get too deep. Winner: Frozen Four Loss to Union
3) BC defeats UMass-Lowell to win Northeast Regional
6) Eagles Start Slow in '14-'15
Here's the thing about the current season: we knew Boston College wouldn't be the same team. We knew the Eagles wouldn't be the same national powerhouse they were last year, probably not be the same type of contenders. When Sonny Milano backed out of BC to go to the Plymouth Whalers, there left a giant void unfilled in the BC offense. So there was the expectation of a step back after last year, especially with the promising recruiting classes coming in next year and beyond.
That said, the slow start to the current BC season stung because of how the Eagle weaknesses became exposed. A 1-0 loss to Connecticut hurt, but it was followed up with losses to BU and Harvard. Even with a win over Michigan State, the expectation of a loss against Minnesota was met with a resounding 6-2 defeat. BC's dropped to 54th out of 59 teams on the power play entering this weekend, and the once powerful offense is down to 19th.
If BC wants into the national tournament, they can still get there by playing well in the second half of the season. But that'll be for 2015; the 2014 part of the season ending around .500 was a stark contrast few casual observers were ready for after the exploits of last season.
Meanwhile, it goes up against one of the best games of recent memory, a 4-3 victory over UMass-Lowell in the Northeast Regional Final in Worcester, MA. The game winning goal, halfway through the third period, was beyond beautiful, with Teddy Doherty feeding Ian McCoshen for a wide open look at the cage. If you didn't watch this game, you might not agree with me, but this game was a prize fight between two heavyweights for a full three periods. Winner: McCoshen Delivers Cheesesteaks
4) Top-seeded BC loses to Notre Dame in Hockey East Quarterfinals
5) Sonny Milano chooses the CHL over NCAA.
I felt the loss to Notre Dame in the quarterfinals was a bad omen that Boston College, even with what we saw all season, could be defeated. BC didn't play poorly against Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish held Johnny Gaudreau scoreless in game 3, ending a 31-game point streak. The defense broke down, and Thatcher Demko picked a bad time to have a bad weekend. The Eagles couldn't break the Fighting Irish's neutral zone trap.
Oddly enough, though, the negativity didn't quite flow as badly as it did when Sonny Milano went the full Fredo and took sides against the family. When rumors began swirling about Milano's decision to not come to BC (who he chose after decommitting from Notre Dame, FWIW), he reaffirmed his decision to The Heights. Then, in August, right before he was due to come to Chestnut Hill, he chose to sign with Columbus and go to the CHL.
It's a tough decision here because remember, we're not talking about positives or negatives (both are pretty negative, too). What we are discussing is impact versus legacy. BC's loss to Notre Dame had a pretty big impact, but we remain convinced of this team's potential. Also bear this in mind: they still made it to Philadelphia in the Frozen Four. As for Milano, the team's lack of punch on the power play this year is a huge deal, and the offense feels like it's missing *something.* I can't say for sure whether that's Milano. Quite honestly, I don't care—he made his decision and BC's moved on. But by the same token, his decision reignited a conversation and debate about the NCAA versus Juniors. It's a debate still going on as the World Junior Championships continues (with Milano skating alongside current Eagles, too). Therefore, it has the larger legacy. Winner: Fredo Milano
1) Gaudreaby Baker vs. 5) Fredo Milano
You don't really think Sonny Milano will play a larger role in 2014 than Johnny Gaudreau, do you? Yeah, me either. Let's just pick this one and move on. Winner: Gaudreauby Baker
2) Frozen Four Union Defeat vs. 3) UMass-Lowell Victory
This boils down to what you'd rather remember—a win or a loss. The UMass-Lowell win was a top five game played in my estimation, and it ultimately had more of a lasting impact on my view of the team than the loss to Union. I always felt like Union was just the better team, and the Northeast Regional was the game that should've been the Hockey East Championship had Notre Dame not gotten in the way.
The Union defeat played out on a bigger stage, but slight edge for me to the UMass-Lowell win here. Winner: UMass-Lowell Northeast Regional Final
1) Gaudreauby Baker vs. 3) UMass-Lowell Northeast Regional Victory
2014 for Boston College hockey will always be Johnny Gaudreau's year. The only thing possibly eclipsing it would've been a national championship but, alas, that didn't happen. That said, if there's one thing from this past year you may have to file as "must watch," it would be the UML game. The game was one of the best displays of college hockey I've ever seen. In talking with hockey people, including out own Joe Grav, I determined that not winning the national title didn't hurt. They still describe this game as one of the greatest games ever. So while Gaudreau had the accolades, he's getting upset by a game for the ages. Winner: BC vs. UML Northeast Regional