HOCKEY PREVIEW: Mulling Over His Place
Learning From Past Captains, Mullane Is Prepared To Show Why He Has The 'C' On His Maroon And Gold
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
As the Boston College men’s hockey team takes a lead against Ferris State into the 2012 national title game’s closing moments, the Eagles’ annual pursuit of hockey immortality is on the verge of fulfillment. A season that featured a Hockey East banner, a Beanpot Trophy, and a legendary 19-game winning streak is about to culminate in college hockey’s most coveted prize.
At long last, the final buzzer sounds. BC’s Pat Mullane celebrates with his team on the ice in Tampa, completely caught up in a moment of adulation. For the junior forward, it’s his second championship in only three years and a victory he’ll never forget.
“I think it was obviously a great experience—that when I look back on my Boston College career, that [2011-2012] season is obviously going to stick out,” Mullane said.
Fast-forward to the present day, and the Eagles once again find themselves ranked No. 1 in the nation, on the precipice of another season. The stars seem aligned for another run at a title, but a lot has changed since Mullane and his BC teammates raised the program’s fifth championship trophy last April. Key veterans like captain Tommy Cross, Chris Kreider, Paul Carey, Brian Dumoulin, and Barry Almeida—all vital contributors to the Eagles’ success—have moved on to the next level.
“We’re not looking to replace these guys,” Mullane remarked. “We’re looking to work with what we have, and right now I think we have a lot.”
Without the teammates he played alongside for the first three years of his career, the Wallingford, Conn. native understands that time always brings a number of changes that must be embraced. Nevertheless, his storied BC career, which began with a championship in 2010, will come full circle. He’s a senior now, and has been chosen by his teammates to wear the distinguished “C” on his jersey as team captain. Prepared to make the most of well-earned recognition for his commitment and contributions to the BC program, Mullane appears determined to carry his role as a vocal leader on the ice into his official leadership position.
“I think I’m the one who’s pretty loud and always talking,” Mullane said. “The loudest guy in the locker room doesn’t always have to be the captain, but it worked out that this year it was.”
Yet Mullane’s actions on the ice speak louder than his words. The captain is coming off of a 2011-2012 season, in which he set a career high in points, tallying 10 goals and 29 assists after playing in each of the team’s 44 games. It’s also no coincidence that BC’s 19-game win streak coincided with Mullane’s prolific performance during the final stretch of the season—he not only registered 12 points in the team’s final 12 games, but also contributed four pivotal scores in the playoffs.
Although a quick glance at the stat sheet reiterates the senior’s dynamic hockey skill set, head coach Jerry York emphasized that Mullane means much more to his fellow Eagles than goals and assists.
“What’s important to me is watching him develop as a leader,” York said. “You could see it probably the middle of last year, and now it’s been clearly evident to me and to our staff and to the players around him that he’s got great leadership skills. He’s watched Tommy Cross and watched Ben Smith and players of that oak, how they’ve led. That’s the most impressive thing, I think, about Pat. He’s determined to follow in Tommy’s footsteps and Ben’s footsteps as one of the real remarkable leaders we’ve had here at BC.”
Echoing his coach’s words, Mullane also understands that his role as team captain extends far past Kelley Rink, and credits veteran leadership for inspiring his own ascendancy to a place amongst the all-time Eagle greats.
“For me, I just want to make sure that when the guys look at me off the ice—whether it’s in the weight room or on campus—that I’m conducting myself in a way that they can be like, ‘That’s our captain … that’s how I should conduct myself around this school,’” Mullane said. “When I was a freshman, I looked up to Matt Price, and I watched how he acted and I said, ‘That’s how I should be acting.’”
With six freshmen and eight sophomores, the Eagles’ roster has a youthful flare heading into the 2012-2013 campaign after losing several veterans. The team’s newcomers might not have the experience of a championship run under their belts like Mullane and other upperclassmen do. If last year’s contributions from Johnny Gaudreau and other underclassmen to BC’s late-season run are any indication, however, the Eagles must utilize their young talent to defend a national title.
“It’s time for the sophomores who are now juniors—it’s Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold—it’s time for them to step up, and they realize that,” Mullane said. “Being older and being more mature, we’re looking for them to have a big, breakout season, both of them. Same with guys like Johnny Gaudreau, who had an incredible freshman year but, as a guy who’s one year older, we’re expecting him to bring even more—whether it’s goals, assists, or leadership.”