Sports, Winter, Hockey, Column

The BC Men’s Hockey Team’s Report Card

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Boston College men’s hockey team,

As you’re certainly aware, at this time of year-with college hockey trophy season lurking just around the corner-it is customary to give the parents of our teams an update on their squads’ progress throughout the season so far. Just as the parents of Boston University, Maine, Providence, and the other Hockey East teams enrolled in our class are eligible for a season review, as the parents of BC men’s hockey, you’re entitled to a full report card of your team’s performance. For your convenience, BC’s progress report has been broken into five sections-offense, defense, special teams, goaltending, and fan appeal-and is graded on a standard A to F, 4.0 scale.

Offense: To be completely honest, the consistently lethal goal-scoring efficiency displayed by your team has exceeded our wildest expectations. Through 25 games, BC has scored 112 times-20 more goals than the No. 1 team in our school, Minnesota.

While many components have led to your team’s success, a few notable players have made huge contributions. Junior winger Johnny Gaudreau-or “Johnny Hockey”-has led the team with 22 goals and 28 assists for 50 points and has built up a 20-game point streak. He’s been playing exceptionally well with his linemates, winger Kevin Hayes, who has dramatically improved from last year, and center Bill Arnold-the seniors have scored 45 and 36 points, respectively. As a trio, your team’s best forwards fill the top-three spots for Hockey East scoring leaders.

The older boys have led your team so far this year, but the freshmen have been settling in quickly and contributing, too. Ryan Fitzgerald and Austin Cangelosi have excelled, scoring 21 and 18 points, respectively. Adam Gilmour has started to come into his own recently, scoring three goals in the month of January, and Chris Calnan, one of his linemates, has recorded nine points on the season and definitely has more to give as he continues to settle into the team.

Going forward, we imagine it will be difficult for the offense to improve on its performance thus far, but continued success will mean maintaining the same rapid goal-scoring pace and finding more goals from other lines. Grade: A

Defense: Coming into the season, we knew transitioning to life without seniors Patrick Wey and Patch Alber would be difficult for your team. This said, an influx of freshman talent has made the process far easier than expected, and the defense has had a fairly solid season. Returners Isaac MacLeod, Michael Matheson, and Teddy Doherty have worked well with freshmen Ian McCoshen, Scott Savage, and Steve Santini, and the defensive pairings have helped hold opponents to 58 goals on the season. Of the defensemen who have played 10 games or more, McCoshen has the highest plus-minus at plus-20, and Doherty has the lowest at plus-7.

Given the youthfulness of the pairings, it’s not surprising-though it is somewhat concerning-that your team’s defense has struggled with focus in some games. Giving up five goals to Holy Cross and four goals to Boston University were low points, and allowing 4-15-1 Penn State two goals on Saturday night nearly blew a 10-game undefeated streak.

Additionally-despite Santini’s plus-19-after being disqualified from two games, the 6-foot-2, 201-pound defenseman has been flagged as someone who has difficulty playing with others.

To improve, the defense needs to work on retaining focus and cutting down on superfluous penalties, and must avoid playing down to other team’s levels. Grade: B+

Special Teams: Earlier in the season, we were extremely concerned about the productivity of BC’s power play. Sluggish, disjointed, and wildly ineffective, one of the most important part of your team’s game was simply not up to par with the rest of the class. Lately, though, with the reshuffling of personnel, the power play has seen a boost and has climbed to a 20.4 percent success rate.

On the other hand, the Eagles’ penalty kill has flourished all season, killing 105 of 116 man advantages for a Division I hockey-leading 90.5 percent kill rate.

With the power play showing improvement as of late and the penalty kill displaying consistency over the course of the season, BC’s special teams can advance their growth through continued scoring when on the man advantage, and by maintaining the same level of stinginess on the kill. Grade: B+

Goaltending: While all the members of your team have been working hard this season, two have been relentlessly competing against each other day in and day out-goalies Brian Billett and Thatcher Demko. Billett’s played more games this season, recording a .920 save percentage and a 2.40 goals-against average (GAA) in 15 appearances. The freshman, Demko, has played 10 games, but is coming on strong, starting the past three games and recording a .919 save percentage and 2.17 goals-against average on the season.

Both goaltenders have had good games and bad games, and looking ahead at the postseason fight, it’s essential for your team’s success that one heats up enough to command the net in the season’s final stretch. Grade: A-

Fan Appeal: Well, your team certainly does have a penchant for the spectacular, doesn’t it? Judging by the noise in Conte Forum against BU a few weekends ago, the fans are certainty being entertained, and from Sports Center Top 10 plays to physics-defying backhanded goals to hat tricks to huge hits to nearly incomprehensible dekes-there’s certainly been a lot to see.

We’re a little bit worried about how all the attention is affecting your team’s brother, the BC men’s basketball team, but regardless, it is our best judgment that the best way to elevate fan appeal to an even higher level and to receive extra credit would be through a tournament rematch with Minnesota. Grade: A

Final notes and observations: The Eagles, the youngest team in school, are No.2 in their grade. To date, they’ve exceeded the expectations we held going into the season, but there’s still room for further improvement. In terms of final projects, a field trip to the Frozen Four would not be out of the question. Cumulative grade: A-

An earlier version of this article listed Cam Spiro as having graduated. The article now accurately reflects that Spiro is a junior forward on the BC men’s hockey team. 


January 27, 2014