Sneep Shines After Tough Junior Year
Published: Monday, December 7, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
BOSTON — The 2008-2009 season was a rough one for Boston College senior defenseman Carl Sneep.
In 33 games played, the Minnesota native recorded just two goals and often seemed a liability on the defensive end.
In a season during which so much went wrong for the defending national champions, the frustration reached a fever pitch in the Hockey East tournament semifinals. After the Eagles surrendered three goals in under a minute to arch-nemesis Boston University, effectively knocking BC out of the national tournament, finger-pointing ensued. Sneep and the defense made for easy scapegoats.
This year, things are different. Coming off a resounding hockey weekend in which the Eagles recorded road wins at No. 9 UMass and BU on consecutive nights, the new-and-improved Sneep is garnering much of the attention.
"I'll tell you, he's playing his best hockey of his career," said a glowing BC head coach Jerry York. "His offensive production has been terrific. He's been a leader for us, and he's improved his defensive play. My hat's off to him."
Through 13 games, Sneep is second on the team in points, with six goals and eight assists. One of his biggest goals came Saturday night against BU, when he beat Terriers' goalie Kieran Millan with a slap shot from just inside the blue line to tie the game at one. The seeing-eye shot sped through traffic in front of the net and beat Millan up high with under four minutes to play in the second period.
It was just the spark the Eagles needed, as they stormed to a 4-1 victory and silenced the crowd at the Agganis Arena. More than any other team, it was BU that had cashed in on BC's defensive shortcomings last year. On Saturday, it looked like Sneep and the Eagles' defense were out for revenge.
His increased offensive output and defensive prowess aside, the BC coaching staff has voiced its excitement about Sneep's newfound leadership on the defensive end. The team's only senior defenseman, Sneep has been charged with improving a core group of young defensive players.
"He's our elder statesman back there," York said. "We love his new role as a leader. He came into this season with a new determination to play better than he did in his first three years for BC, and it's paying off. It's been great to see."
On Saturday night, Sneep and his defensive cohorts looked faster and more skilled than the BU front line all night long.
"They're quick and tenacious and very solid on the defensive end," said BU head coach Jack Parker. "We got beat by an awful good hockey team."
After giving up a goal to Nick Bonino early in the second, the BC defense buckled down. Sneep led his fast, young defensive core as they killed off a minute and six seconds of five-on-three action in which BU peppered the defense with shots.
"It was like a shooting gallery out there," York said.
With the Eagles on the offensive for the majority of a lopsided third period, Sneep and the defense were quick to snuff out any BU offensive pushes.
"It was a terrific weekend for our club," York said. "I thought we were very solid defensively ... Our young defensive core made good decisions and managed the puck very well. I think that was the key to last night's game but also tonight's game."
Through 13 games, it looks like the Eagles are back, and last year's scapegoat may well be listed among the heroes if BC is to win trophies in 2010. Sneep's exciting improvement has caught the attention of his legendary coach and has all of Hockey East on notice: The days of the speedy BC defense are back.