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
That was a full four years ago, and both have grown considerably as players since then.
“When we played together, I always loved playing with him,” Gaudreau said. “I mean, he’s my bother and we’re really close, and he’s a really talented player too and just seeing him develop in these past two, three years, its been pretty cool to just be there with him and get to be here with him my junior year.”
Last year, Matt played for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. Though the younger Gaudreau did not see as much success in the league as his older brother, amassing 18 points in contrast to Gaudreau’s 72 during his final season in the USHL, Johnny is optimistic about the rookie’s transi- tion to college hockey.
“He’s doing good, he’s doing really good,” Gaudreau said. “He’s a little underweight, he’s got to get some weight on him. He weighs like 130. I mean, when I was a fresh- man I only weighed like five, 10 pounds more than him, so I think he’ll be fine. He’s fitting and adjusting well, he likes all the guys on the team and it’s a really good fit for him.”
Matt is a small part of what is a huge freshman class for BC, in the literal sense. Out of 10 newcomers, Matt is one of three under six feet tall, and the class is already being praised as highly skilled.
With such an influx of young talent, suddenly, Gaudreau has evolved from a highly praised young talent into a veteran. That fact has not been lost on him.
“Just two years ago I was a freshman playing all these older guys that are now playing in the NHL, and now I’m a junior and these little, these freshmen, are looking up to us now and its hard to change the mindset from that kind of freshman, junior year, but I think I’m doing alright,” he said.
Gaudreau cited Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold as two who are doing a particularly good job of motivating the freshmen and showing them the ropes. Personally, he knows that his particular set of leadership skills have yet to develop fully, saying that he needs to learn to be more of a leader off of the ice.
“Freshman year, I know I was looking up to guys who were juniors and seniors and it was really important to me how they showed me the ropes and everything like that, how they were in the locker room and on the ice, off the ice,” Gaudreau said. “It’s the same thing every year. We older guys have to show the younger guys what to do and how it goes.”
He has never been a big presence in the locker room. In the past, all of his leadership has come through offensive success, and Gaudreau is ready to admit that he tends to be on the quieter side on the bench. If the Eagles hope to move past last season’s disappointing postseason performance, his leadership will be an important factor.
While leadership is an important element of success for any team, Gaudreau has his sights set on a number of other areas that his team should focus on improving in.
“Being good off the ice, getting all our workouts in, working hard on and off the ice,” he said. “Last year we worked hard and everything but I think the start of this year we are pushing each other a little harder. You can definitely see all the motivation through all the guys and I’m pretty excited about that.”
Last season, the Eagles’ performance on special teams also declined, which Gaudreau saw as a major problem. In the 2011-12 season, the Eagles scored on 22.5 percent of their power plays and held their opponents to 11.5 percent success. The true standout statistics came during the last 19 games of the season during which the Eagles were undefeated. During that time, BC scored on 30.3 percent of their power plays, while their opponents scored only 8.2 percent of the time.
The 2012-13 team, in contrast, scored on only 21.1 percent of their power plays. Additionally, the Eagles allowed goals on the penalty kill 16.4 percent of the time, and scored only once while a man down, despite 57 attempts.
“Last year towards the end of the year we weren’t as good on our power play and penalty kill and I think that’s something that we’ve been focusing on a lot more this year and this past preseason,” Gaudreau said.
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