Hockey East Preview: #1 Boston College; Scrimmage Thoughts

Hockey East Preview: #1 Boston College Eagles

2011-12 Storyline: Boston College gains the national championship for the third time in the last five years

2012-13 Storyline: The Eagles look to continue their dominance in Hockey East and nationally in 2012-13

Player To Watch: Johnny Gaudreau F (21-23-44)

Player Missed Most: Chris Kreider F (23-22-45)

Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Mike Matheson D

Random Fact: Boston College and Boston University are now tied with five national championships apiece

Beer The Triangle Favorite Local Brew: Since BC is on the western edge of Boston, my favorite brewery in metro west is Jack’s Abby out of Framingham.  High quality beer and very creative.  It’s not often you see a wet hop lager.

Team Outlook

Another year, another offseason that saw Boston College lose some highly talented players to graduation and the NHL.  No problem though, it happens all the time and BC always bounces back, with the younger players stepping up and reloading with another highly rated recruiting class.

The Eagles do lose three of their top four goal scorers this season, but the one coming back, Johnny Gaudreau, was one of the top freshman in the league and the country last year.  He’ll look to improve on his 21 goals last season and will be helped at forward by Bill Arnold, Steven Whitney, and captain Pat Mullane.  Added to this mix with be Brendan Silk out of the USNTDP.

BC will miss Brian Dumoulin quite a bit on the blueline, same goes for Tommy Cross.  But the Eagles still bring back a number of experienced players to go with top recruit Mike Matheson, a 1st round draft pick and one of the top players out of the USHL.  Patch Alber and Patrick Wey will lead the defensive unit and will try to be a steady influence for the younger players.  Joining Matheson as a highly rated defensive recruit is Colin Sullivan out of Avon Old Farms.

Parker Milner got off to a rocky start at the beginning of last season but after being given a second chance at the end of January, he never looked back.  19 straight wins later, Milner had gained a national championship for he and his Eagles.  He’ll be expected to do more of the same this year, but if anything happens sophomore Brian Billet is very capable in his own right.

They’ll Finish Lower Because: The freshmen on defense take longer than expected to adjust

Fear The Triangle Fearless Hockey East Predictions
1. Boston College Eagles
2. Lowell River Hawks
3. Boston University Terriers
4. New Hampshire Wildcats
5. Providence Friars
6. Maine Black Bears
7. Massachusetts Minutemen (preview 10/10)
8. Merrimack Warriors
9. Northeastern Huskies
10. Vermont Catamounts

Those are my picks.  But we’ll see how they end up.  Will Merrimack really drop back to the bottom of the pack after the last few historic years for their program.  Is Providence good enough to break into the top four?  Can UMass enjoy the same kind of new coach boost that we saw from Lowell and Providence last year?  We’ll know soon enough.

Yesterday afternoon the team held an open to the public scrimmage at the practice rink.  Overall I would say they look like a team that is a bit rusty and is still trying to get used to a new coach and new system.  They played hard, they played tough (there were even some pretty good hits during the game), but I would not say they looked crisp.  Passing seemed to be a huge problem during the scrimmage, outlet passes especially.  This is likely going to be one of coach Micheletto’s biggest areas of focus this week as he has mentioned puck possession as being a high priority.  We did see the up tempo he has been speaking of as the team was creating rushes up and down the ice constantly.

The scrimmage was split into three sections.  The first period was a typical scrimmage with five on five and goaltenders.  Only one goal was scored during this time as Branden Gracel put a slapshot behind Kevin Boyle..  Second period was sectioned off into eight two minute power play opportunities.  Unfortunately the power play looked very disorganized during this time and ended up going 0 for 8.  The third period featured some late game extra man situations and then some four on four time.  This is when most of the scoring happened.  First Mike Busillo was able to get a puck behind Jeff Teglia during the four on four time.  Adam Phillips had perhaps the best goal of the day, putting home a wrister from the right side past Boyle after a nice little toe-drag.  Andrew Tegeler would battle in front for a goal on Kevin Boyle and the scoring was concluded by Rob Dongara scoring on Steve Mastalerz.  In the end the White team defeated Maroon 3-2.

All players dressed and played in the game except Eric Filiou.  Evan Auvenshine did play initially but was missing from the ice in the later part of the scrimmage.  All four freshmen played significant time.  Out of the four I would say Evan Stack looked the best.  He was very active and aggressive and moved the puck well.  Shane Walsh looked decent and showed some good two-way play.  Connor Doherty looks solid on defense, his play reminding me a lot of Colin Shea’s.  K.J. Tiefenwerth showed some good speed but wasn’t able to produce much on offense when he was on the ice.  Transfer Rob Dongara was one of the better players on the ice for much of the day.

Here are some of the line combinations I saw to start the game:


In terms of pairings, Conor Allen and Joel Hanley appear to be paired up a lot.  Phillips and Oleg Yevenko were nearly always paired together.  It’s tough to say who has a head start for that 6th defensive position as Busillo, Doherty, Darren Rowe, and Railoa all played a bunch of minutes.  All the goaltenders played well and made some nice saves when needed.  Statistically Boyle gave up the most goals he also seemed to be tested the most.

So those are my early thoughts on the first practice.  Certainly there’s a lot to work on but I think that’s to be expected at this stage.  Personally I was just happy to watch some hockey and looking forward to more on Friday.

The season got started for real for a couple of Hockey East teams.  Merrimack took out #5 Union 4-1 however Maine lost to Quinnipiac.