Hockey In Need Of Rebound
Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
It has been a tough couple of weeks for the No. 7 Boston College men's hockey team since winter break, and things don't appear to be getting any easier. The Eagles will face a strong opponent in the New Hampshire Wildcats this weekend for a home-and-home series in which they need to rack up more points.
BC has been famous for its late-season successes under head coach Jerry York, but since the winter break ended, something has been missing. Passes aren't as crisp, pucks aren't bouncing their way, and the consistency on both ends of the ice that York has stressed for years, is lacking. And while a bad stretch of games won't doom the Eagles' championship hopes, the cause for concern is noticeable.
"Every year is different," York said, "We've had some incredible runs late in the year, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to happen every year. We've got to really improve as a hockey team to get on a run. It's not going to be enough to say BC's done it in the past few years. We need to go out and take it."
There have been a number of things that have led to BC's slide, one of which has been the lack of production from many key players. York switched up his line combinations for last weekend's series against Maine with some mixed results, but the final product continued to be lacking. York was less focused on his team's production in recent games, however, and more concerned with some of its decision-making. He cited turnovers as a key reason for the team's struggles and stressed the need for improvement in that area if they want to turn things around.
"The one thing that jumps out at me is that we've turned over a lot of pucks on offense," York said. "They've resulted in a lot of 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 opportunities on our goalies. We talk a lot about good defense leading to good offense, but what's troubling us right now is that when we have the puck, offensively we're making poor decisions, and [the opposition is] getting great chances to score."
Having picked up just two wins in seven games since the winter break, this weekend's series against the Wildcats could go a long way in determining whether or not BC could make a run for the Hockey East regular season title. Even so, York refuses to change his approach to this weekend, while emphasizing his point that the most important game is the next one.
"We're really focused on each game," York said. "That's the game we want to win. Friday night is our focus. We've played 25 games right now, so the 26th is the one we want to win."
One of the most interesting developments to watch over the weekend will be in the crease, where the continued absence of a true No. 1 goalie has hurt the Eagles in past weeks. A team that has recently seen Scott Clemmenson, Corey Schneider, and John Muse dominate between the pipes for the better part of their careers now has a three-way battle for the starting job. Surprisingly, Parker Milner, the starter coming into this season, seems to have fallen behind freshman Brian Billett and senior Chris Venti in the depth chart. Despite this, York stated that the team still doesn't have a definite No. 1, and that what the players do in practice figures in as a big part in his decision.
"We're going to watch during the week of practice," York said. "Over the last number of years, we've always had that one goaltender who was going to play 99 percent of the games, so that was never a decision process. Now it's wide open. It's a decision process, and we're trying to decide who's going to give us the best chance to win Friday night."