After a layoff of over a week, Boston College men’s hockey has arrived in Albany for its NCAA Regional Final game on Sunday. Head coach Jerry York and captain Marc McLaughlin addressed the media on Friday ahead of the opening round.
This year’s tournament, however, is completely different from years past. The players have been forced to eat meals in their own rooms since their arrival in Albany. On Thursday, they were constrained to the hotel and unable to practice on the ice, which is unusual considering how quickly BC’s opening game is approaching.
“It’s been so unusual compared to other NCAA Tournaments, but we know we’re trying to fight COVID, and we’re doing everything possible to keep us here straight and play games here,” York said. “With safety as an issue, nobody practiced yesterday. We met as a team a couple different times, but a lot of the hotel meals stay in your rooms.”
Despite the tournament having a different feel to it with all of the regulations in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, York made it clear he was thrilled to be there.
“I love to be in the NCAA Tournament,” York said. “When the weather’s this warm, and the guys are wearing shorts to the rink, you know we’ve had a good year.”
BC’s first-round opponent Notre Dame withdrew from the tournament due to COVID-19 protocols, so the Eagles find themselves just one win away from a Frozen Four berth, awaiting the winner of St. Cloud State and Boston University in Saturday’s Regional Semifinal.
“We’re back to that bye team waiting for an opponent,” York said, referencing tournaments prior to 2003, when the field expanded to 16 teams.
Despite a 6-5 loss to UMass Lowell in which Spencer Knight conceded four third-period goals to end the Eagles’ Hockey East Tournament hopes, York said he is not at all worried about his star netminder. York described Knight as “one of the winners.”
“We want to learn from that,” McLaughlin said of the loss to UMass Lowell. “We put it behind us quick. We want to be present. We let the Hockey East [trophy] slip, and that’s definitely going to make us even hungrier for the big one. [To win the national championship] is our goal and was our goal that we set out for at the beginning of the season.”
Despite not yet knowing their opponent, the Eagles have spent the long layoff preparing for either opponent they may face. Even though the team is familiar with BU, the Eagles are not focusing their strategy solely on St. Cloud State.
“The start is going to be the most important for our group, especially coming off not playing the Regional Semifinal game and other teams getting a little comfortable with the rink and getting their legs under them,” McLaughlin said.
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Senior Staff