Sports, Winter, Hockey, Men's Hockey

Davidow: Creating The All-Time Boston College Men’s Hockey Team

On the heels of Boston College men’s hockey’s impressive 2023–24 season, it’s as good a time as any to look back at the program’s decorated history in a new way: by creating a lineup of the best forwards, defensemen, and goaltender in school history. 

Although the Eagles have boasted many great players in the program’s over century-long existence, only a select few can be declared as the best to ever wear a BC sweater.

The Forwards:

Johnny Gaudreau

Johnny Gaudreau, who earned the nickname “Johnny Hockey” in his time at BC, spent three years on the Heights, and he certainly made the most of them. 

As a freshman, Gaudreau stood at just 5-foot-7 and weighed 150 pounds, but his game was far bigger than his stature.

His game-changing abilities only bolstered an already impressive BC roster, and the freshman from New Jersey finished second on the team in scoring with 44 points. 

After BC won the Hockey East Tournament that season, with Gaudreau taking home tournament MVP, the Eagles made a run in the NCAA Tournament, eventually finding themselves leading 2–1 with just over three minutes to go in the 2012 National Championship game. 

The Eagles were clinging on to their lead when Gaudreau found the puck on his own blue line and, in a solo effort, drove it down the ice and scored a highlight-reel goal, securing BC’s fifth national championship.

As a sophomore, Gaudreau notched 51 points, leading all of college hockey in points-per-game. His play earned himself his first Hobey Baker award nomination, and he finished second in voting. 

“Johnny Hockey” truly took the hockey world by storm in his third and final year at BC.

Gaudreau scored a whopping 36 goals and 44 assists in 40 games in the 2013–14 season, once again leading all of college hockey. His 80 points were the most by any NCAA player in a single season since 2003.

So it came as no surprise when Gaudreau won the Hobey Baker award as the nation’s top collegiate player, as well as every other award he was eligible for that season. 

Following a heartbreaking loss to Union in the Frozen Four, Gaudreau’s playing days at BC came to an end. His historic Hobey Baker-winning season had earned him an invitation to the NHL, and he joined the Calgary Flames following the loss.

Despite playing just three years for the Eagles, Gaudreau finished with the ninth most goals and the 10th most points in school history. Gaudreau remains the only Eagle to have ever won both the Hobey Baker Award and a national championship during his time on the Heights. 

David Emma

David Emma’s name is littered all over BC’s record books. His 239 points are the most in school history and he became the program’s first Hobey Baker Award winner in 1991. He was the first Eagle to have his playing number retired by the school, as his No. 16 hangs in the rafters above Kelley Rink to this day. 

In his first two years at BC, Emma immediately became a star and put up impressive numbers, scoring 35 points as a freshman and 51 as a sophomore. His final two seasons on the Heights, however, set him apart from the rest. 

A quick and crafty playmaker, Emma tallied 38 goals as a junior, tied for the most in a single season in school history.

The center also tallied 34 assists for 72 total points and led the Eagles to a Hockey East championship. As a result of his play, Emma was named a first team All-American and finished sixth in Hobey Baker voting. 

In his senior year, as the captain of the Eagles, Emma tallied 35 goals and 46 assists for 81 points in 39 games, leading the nation in points-per-game. His 81 points are the second most in a single season in BC history. 

He was named a first-team All-American yet again, won Hockey East Player of the Year, and was voted the best player in New England. But on top of all that, he became BC’s first Hobey Baker Award winner—the most prestigious award in college hockey. 

Emma was a fan favorite and a great leader, and it doesn’t hurt that he graduated as the school’s all-time leader in goals, assists, and points.

Brian Gionta

Brian Gionta may just be the most important player in BC history. He is the Eagles’ only three-time Hobey Baker finalist, the school’s all-time leader in goals scored, second all-time leader in points, but it was his leadership that realized a dream 52 years in the making.   

Like Gaudreau, Gionta stood at 5-foot-7 as a freshman and immediately burst onto the scene at BC. 

A phenomenal skater with an elite skill set, combined with a fiercely competitive nature, Gionta immediately stood out upon arriving on the Heights. In his first season Gionta found the back of the net 30 times, then the most by a freshman in school history—a milestone only just surpassed by Ryan Leonard, who had 31.

He immediately meshed with senior talent Marty Reasoner, and the two’s eye-popping offensive output led the Eagles to the 1997–98 national championship game, where Gionta was handed his first bitter taste of defeat, as they lost to Michigan in overtime. 

His sophomore season was equally as productive, scoring 60 points, and the Eagles made another deep playoff run, reaching the Frozen Four. Gionta was a Hobey Baker finalist and a first team All-American for the first of three consecutive years—the only Eagle to receive each honor more than twice. 

Gionta quickly emerged as not only a collegiate super star, but as a leader inside the locker room, and was named an alternate captain as a junior. 

That season, he notched another 33 goal seasons and once again earned a Hobey Baker nomination while leading the Eagles to a national championship game. The Eagles, however, fell once more, this time to North Dakota.

As the captain and the heartbeat of the Eagles during his senior year, Gionta was a man on a mission. He led the NCAA with 33 goals, and finished second in Hobey Baker voting, but one elusive accolade still remained: a national championship. 

BC met North Dakota in the 2000–01 national championship game in a rematch of the game Gionta lost three years prior. Unlike the earlier contest, the Gionta-led Eagles beat the Fighting Sioux in overtime to end their 52-year title drought. 

Gionta had his name raised to the rafters above Kelley Rink in 2020. 

The Defensemen:

Mike Mottau

Regarded as a highly coachable, competitive, and skilled player, Mike Mottau was a force on both sides of the puck. Mottau is BC’s all-time leading scorer by a defenseman and the school’s outright all-time assists leader.

Most notably, Mottau is one of three Eagles to have won the Hobey Baker Award, and is the only defenseman of the bunch.

As a freshman, Mottau was immediately thrust into a prominent role on the team. While his game was initially prone to mistakes at the new level, he still managed to record 23 points as a freshman blueliner. 

Mottau took a massive step forward in his sophomore year, as he led the entire nation in scoring by a defenseman with 13 goals and 49 points, both career highs. 

That season, Mottau helped take the Eagles to the 1998 national championship, where, alongside the aforementioned freshman sensation Gionta, he was handed a heartbreaking overtime defeat. Despite the loss, Mottau was still named to the all-tournament team. 

As a junior, Mottau continued his blistering point-scoring pace, notching 42, while also bolstering his role as a shutdown defender. At the conclusion of the season, he was named a first-team All-American and won the Walter Brown Award as the best American-born collegiate player in New England.

Mottau was named the Eagles’ captain for the 1999–00 season, his senior year, and he had fully developed a brand of two-way hockey built for the pros. 

Mottau again posted impressive offensive numbers with 43 points, while maintaining a physical defensive presence.  

Mottau faced another bitter defeat in the end, losing in the national championship game. He still took home a long list of hardware, however, including his second first team All-American nod, a second Walter Brown Award win, the Hockey East’s defensive defenseman of the year, and the Hobey Baker Award. 

 Brian Dumoulin

The 6-foot-4, 203-pound Brian Dumoulin held all the skills to be an elite defenseman. The Maine native was a strong skater, puck mover, and had the size and compete level to play a physical, shutdown game. 

It showed. 

Dumoulin recorded 22 points and a staggering +36 plus-minus rating as a freshman. Dumoulin’s positive impact was certainly felt, as the Eagles dominated both Miami (Ohio) 7–1 in the Frozen Four and Wisconsin 5–0 in the championship game. Dumoulin was named to the NCAA all-tournament team as one of the two best defensemen in the playoffs, as well as the Hockey East All-Rookie team. 

As a sophomore, Dumoulin’s play earned himself national recognition, as he was named a first team All-American, voted Hockey East’s best defensive defenseman, and made the Hockey East first All-Star Team, following a 33 point season. 

Dumoulin’s impressive performances had garnered the attention of the NHL. The Carolina Hurricanes, who drafted him in 2009, tried to recruit him to their roster. Dumoulin, however, chose to stay at BC for one more season—a choice that paid dividends for the Eagles. 

As a junior, Dumoulin continued to prove he was one of the best players in college hockey as he led the Eagles to yet another national championship, and added to his long list of personal accomplishments. 

That season, he posted 28 points, with a career-high seven goals. 

After defeating Ferris State in the national championship, Dumoulin was named to the all-tournament team, a first team All-American, Hockey East’s best defensive defenseman, the Hockey East’s first all-star team—all for the second time. He was also a Hobey Baker finalist, and finished fourth in voting. 

Dumoulin helped carry BC to three consecutive Hockey East championships, three Beanpots, two national championships, and was continually recognized as one of the best defensemen, if not players in all of college hockey. 

Dumoulin’s play eventually earned him a ticket out of Chestnut Hill and to Pittsburgh, where he became an NHL regular with the Penguins. 

The Goalie:

Thatcher Demko

Starting his career as a 17-year-old freshman, Thatcher Demko slowly took the starting job from junior Brian Billett as he quickly adjusted to college speed and showcased his abilities.

Demko had the 6-foot-4 frame, the composure, the IQ, and the skillset of an elite NHL goaltender, which he demonstrated from the moment he stepped on the ice. 

In his 24 games played that season, Demko posted 2.24 GAA, a .919 save percentage, and two shutouts, taking the Gaudreau-led Eagles to the Frozen Four, where BC fell 5–4 to Union. Still, Demko was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team.

Demko became the full-time starter in his sophomore year, and, in 35 games, he had a 2.19 GAA and a .925 save percentage.

The team in front of Demko was not as strong as it had once been, and the Eagles were bounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The team’s play picked up greatly in the 2015–16 season, largely due to Demko’s historic season between the pipes. In 39 games played Demko recorded 27 wins, a 1.88 GAA, a .935 save percentage, and 10 shutouts. 

No other goalie in BC history had recorded more than eight shutouts in a season, and only two other goalies in college hockey history have recorded more than 10 total, putting both the NCAA and the NHL on notice. 

Demko was awarded the Mike Richter Award for the nation’s top collegiate goaltender, named the Hockey East Player of the Year, and was the Hobey Baker Award runner up.

Unfortunately for Boston College, Demko’s game had earned him an early call up to the NHL following his record-setting junior year. After just three seasons, Demko ranks second in shutouts, second in GAA, and second in save percentage in school history. 

May 13, 2024

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