Hockey East Preview – Boston College

By: Joe Barbito

Head Coa250px-BostonCollegeEagles.svgch – Jerry York (22nd season)

Last Season – 28-8-5 (15-2-5 in Hockey East, 1st), lost in Conference Quarterfinals to Northeastern, lost in Frozen Four to Quinnipiac

Losses – D Steve Santini, F Miles Wood, F Alex Tuch, F Adam Gilmour, G Thatcher Demko, D Ian McCoshen, F Zach Sanford, D Teddy Doherty, D Travis Jeke, F Brendan Silk, F Peter McMullen

Newcomers – F Graham McPhee, F David Cotton, D Connor Moore, D Luke McInnis, F Zachary Walker, D Michael Campoli, G Joseph Woll, D Jesper Mattila, F Michael Booth, F Julias Mattila, G Ryan Edquist, F Michael Merulla, F Ron Greco

On the heels of another first place finish in Hockey East, Jerry York and the Eagles look to an early Hobey Baker favorite in Colin White and a massive freshman class to rebuild after losing seven players to professional contracts and four to graduation. Hobey Baker finalist and Mike Richter award winner Thatcher Demko highlights the departing class, who posted career bests in goals against average (1.88) save percentage (.935%) and shutouts (10). 203 points are split between the 11 forwards that have left, with Miles Wood (10-25-35), Alex Tuch (18-16-34) and Zach Sanford (13-26-39) making up the majority of those points.

Last season was another immaculate year for the Eagles, tying for first overall in the conference with Providence with 35 points. In Hockey East they had the most goals scored by their forwards, the best penalty kill percentage – made more impressive by their conference leading penalty minutes total – and the third best power play percentage. Demko put up a year for the ages, posting six shutouts in his first nine games of the season. He had 14 games of 30 or more saves, and never had a goals against average above his season ending 1.88. Ryan Fitzgerald led the team in goals (24), points (47) and shots on goal (161). Colin White (19-24-43) and Austin Cangelosi (20-17-37) also had big years for the program and look to continue their success as the most well-known names on this team.

Boston College lost a mere two conference games before the playoffs began, with those losses coming against Notre Dame and UMass Lowell. The Eagles defeated Boston University in the Beanpot final in a game that entered extra frames with a 0-0 score, the first time in Beanpot history. Securing a bye because of their top four finish, their first conference playoff action came in a series against the University of Vermont which they won two games to one. The series clincher was an overtime game winning goal from Ryan Fitzgerald. They would then face Northeastern in the Hockey East semifinals, losing in a 5-4 back-and-forth battle.

The Eagles would make the NCAA tournament, starting off the regional round by defeating Harvard handily, 4-1, and then edging out a 3-2 win over Minnesota Duluth. Their season finally came to a dramatic close with a 3-2 loss to Quinnipiac in the Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida. With a final season record of 28-8-5, Jerry York said goodbye to many of Hockey East’s top performers.

No one could predict a whopping seven early departures, with Zach Sanford delivering the gut punch in mid-July. Sanford announced his signing with the Washington Capitals, capping off a summer of goodbyes on Chestnut Hill. Add in the four players lost to graduation and this upcoming season will feature a new-look Boston College team.

Starting with their biggest departure in net, Boston College bids farewell to Thatcher Demko and is bringing in Joe Woll of the National Team Development Program, and USHL netminder Ryan Edquist. Woll will likely win the starting job because of his experience with a full college length schedule in the NTDP, and .918 sv% over Edquist’s .906 sv% this past season. However, both Woll and Edquist are ’98s, which means they are freshmen in the truest sense, which could increase the challenge for the two.

Steve Santini and Ian McCoshen are two big blue line losses hoping to be addressed by the four defensemen in this year’s recruiting class. Luke McInnis (6-22-28) and Connor Moore (7-26-33) are both from Youngstown in the USHL. Jesper Mattila (4-33-37) is a bit short (5’10”) and small (170 lbs) for a defenseman, but profiles primarily as a puck carrying offensive type. Rounding out the group is Michael Campoli (0-1-1) of the NTDP. Campoli is 6’2” and 192 lbs, much more of a stay at home defenseman than McInnis, Moore or Matilla.

The forward group is where things get sticky. Colin White and Zach Sanford were believed to be the best 1-2 center combination in Hockey East – possibly even the nation – but with the departure of Sanford question marks are abundant. Julius Mattila (21-35-56), the twin brother of Jesper, is going to be one of the biggest contributors of the class. A small but speedy forward, his playmaking skills might land him a top-six spot depending on how the roster shakes out in the preseason.

David Cotton (15-15-30), brother of former Northeastern Husky Jason Cotton, spent last season with Waterloo of the USHL. He was selected in the sixth round by the Carolina Hurricanes, and is given a lot of credit for his two-way style of play as well as his ability to play finesse or go in hard on the forecheck and use his body to make plays. After that, Graham McPhee (10-8-18) and Zach Walker (7-6-13) both come from the NTDP. McPhee and Walker have great skating ability, but lack a significant scoring touch to make them a candidate for anything other than a bottom six spot. Ron Greco, Michael Booth and Michael Merulla are bodies likely to play in event of injuries.

Bottom Line: 2016-2017 will be a trying year for the Boston College Eagles. Jerry York will be working with a very young team this year and must learn how to be competitive without many of the pieces he had to work with the past two years. Probably the most concerning event for everyone on Chestnut Hill is the realization of the “Lost Generation.” With Sanford’s departure, there are no juniors on this team. That would mean in 2018, barring walk-ons or transfers, there will be no seniors on senior night. A problem for another day, it may be an indicator of a larger problem the Eagles have retaining talent. With all of these story lines from this off-season, it will be a challenge for Boston College to repeat the success of 2015-2016.

 

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