MEN'S HOCKEY: Overnight Veteran
Johnny Gaudreau Must Fill A Vastly Different Role On His Young Team
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 06:10
Standing still on the ice, Johnny Gaudreau doesn’t look like anything special. Next to many of the freshmen, most of which tower over six feet, the 5-foot-8 junior will be dwarfed. If he skates over to chat with Kevin Hayes, his 158 pounds will appear to be no match for his teammate’s 216 pounds of force.
But give him a puck and size is forgotten. Suddenly, the lack of inches or pounds disappears between quick, powerful legs and nimble hands. Suddenly, it becomes clear why Gaudreau, similar to Johnny Manziel’s nomination as “Johnny Football,” has been called “Johnny Hockey.”
Gaudreau is back for another year of Boston College hockey, despite his status as a Calgary Flames draft pick and the rumored possibility of his exodus after the comple- tion of his sophomore year. Once a freshman phenomenon and sophomore standout, a matured Gaudreau confronts his junior year, suddenly thrust into the role of an upper- classman on the nation’s youngest team.
“We have a really good freshman class from the goal- tenders to the defense to the forwards,” Gaudreau said. “They’re all going to get a chance to play professional hockey someday and it’s awesome to have them here.”
All of a sudden, Gaudreau can’t just be a kid with quick hands and feet. Scoring and generating points isn’t enough. Now a veteran, he must round out his game and step out- side of his comfort zone in order to lead his team.
Gaudreau has been a contributor since the very be- ginning of his career at BC. During his freshman year, he earned seemingly every honor that a rookie can receive. In October, February, and March, he was recognized as Hockey East’s rookie of the month. After scoring two goals and assisting another two during the Beanpot, he was also honored as the Beanpot MVP. He was the Hockey Com- missioners’ Association Rookie of the Month for March and April after he put up 13 points in 10 games as he helped BC to its third straight Hockey East Tournament Championship, becoming the tournament MVP along the way. Quite deservedly, he also earned BC’s own Bernie Burke Outstanding Freshman Award.
This prolific list of honors comes along with several clutch performances—five game-winning goals, seven power-play goals, 11 multiple-point nights.
He didn’t need time to come into his own and adjust to high-level collegiate hockey—rather, he burst onto the scene scoring once and notching three assists in what was only his second appearance as BC dominated powerhouse North Dakota in a 6-2 win.
The kid—and kid is the appropriate word here— seemed unstoppable and helped the Eagles roll to their 19-game win streak through the end of the season and a National Championship. The opposite of an enforcer, he used his quick feet and skilled hands to score 21 times that season and assisted another 23 goals. That’s 44 points in 44 games.
He did all of this at the age of 18, weighing around 140 pounds.
His sophomore year was recognized in a similar fashion. Though the Eagles did not have as successful a season, Gaudreau was a driving force on offense. Instead of the rookie honors, he began raking in general awards. He was an American Hockey Coaches Association All-America East first team selection and CollegehockeyNews.com All- America East first team honoree. Despite the Eagles’ poor showing in the tournament, Gaudreau was selected as the Hockey East Association Player of the Year, as well as being recognized as New England’s MVP and top forward.
His statistics told a similar story. Gaudreau had 51 points on the season, even though he missed two games for the World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, and played a total of 35 games.
He led the country in points per game with 1.46 and tied for third in game-winning goals with six. His 14 multiple-point games, including a four-point streak, and only seven games in which he didn’t have a goal or an assist, made Gaudreau one of the nation’s biggest contributors on offense.