Hockey East Preview – Boston College Eagles

By: Joseph Barbito

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Head Coach: Jerry York (23rd season)

Last Season: 25-15-4 (13-6-3 in Conference, tied 1st) Lost to UMass Lowell in Hockey East Championship

Losses: D Scott Savage, F Austin Cangelosi, F Chris Calnan, F Ryan Fitzgerald, F Matthew Gaudreau, F Colin White

Additions: D Michael Karow, F Logan Hutsko, F Casey Carreau, F Jacob Tortora, F Christopher Grando, F Aapeli Rasanen, D Kevin Lohan

You cannot stop Jerry York, you can only hope to contain him.

The odds looked grim on Chestnut Hill heading into 2016-17: the Eagles lost tons of key contributors including their stud goaltender, numerous goal scorers and role players. York, however, took his young team and filled all those gaps in and finished tied atop the Hockey East standings yet again. Led by seniors Austin Cangelosi (21-14-35), Ryan Fitzerald (12-19-31) and Matthew Gaudreau (8-27-35), the Eagles finished third in the conference in scoring. Backstopped by freshman phenom Joseph Woll (2.64 GAA and .913 sv%), it seemed York’s Eagles had not missed a beat from the Thatcher Demko era.

Taking a closer look at BC’s schedule shows a lack of consistency that ultimately burned them when it came to making the NCAA tournament, something that had become the norm for the Eagles. After starting the season with a loss to Air Force, BC rattled off a 10-1-1 streak to wrap up their first out-of-conference stretch and the early stages of their Hockey East slate. They then went 4-6-1 through December and the first half of January before rattling off four wins in a row. The Beanpot would prove to be their downfall as they lost their first-round game against BU and barely dropping the consolation game to NU on a controversial goal. In fact, after their win streak, BC finished the regular season 0-5-2.

Ultimately Boston College would make it to the Hockey East Finals before losing to the UML Riverhawks 4-3, ending their chances at an NCAA Tournament bid. Colin White (16-17-33) joined Ottawa of the NHL after two seasons on Chestnut Hill, and many mainstays of the Boston College team that had been terrorizing Hockey East moved on due to graduation. The most notable departures were among the senior class, including Cangelosi (118 career points), Fitzgerald (132 career points), and defenseman Scott Savage (71 career points) who anchored their top defensive pair as well as being named to the Hockey East All-Tournament Team as well as the Hockey East Third Team All-Stars.

After a mass exodus to the pros in the summer of 2016, Boston College found itself lacking a junior class. It appears they will begin the 2017-18 season now with a gaping hole in their senior class as they were unable to fill that void. The oldest members of this Boston College team will be the junior class, headlined by their co-captains Casey Fitzgerald, Michael Kim, and Christopher Brown, and graduate transfer Kevin Lohan who had previously played at Michigan. Fitzgerald, a defenseman, and Brown, a center, are both draft picks of Buffalo in the NHL.

The Eagles currently have eight defensemen on their roster, which could turn out to be a strength for them if they stay healthy. Kim, Fitzgerald, Jesper Mattila, and Luke McInnis all have a shot at top four spots on opening night. Freshman defender Michael Karow will likely challenge early for top minutes, however, given his impressive track record with Youngstown in the USHL. He tallied 21 points in 58 games and was named to the All-Rookie Second team last year. Karow is 6’2” and 200lbs, and he seems to possess the physical skillset needed to perform at the NCAA level. Lohan is also a massive skater, at 6’5” and 217 lbs. He played three seasons with the Wolverines and was named an assistant captain in his final year in Michigan. He can provide solid depth at the blue line.

The forward group this year is entirely freshmen and sophomores, save for Brown and JD Dudek. Returners include David Cotton, Julius Mattila and Graham McPhee. The freshman class is also lackluster by Jerry York standards. Of all forwards brought in this season, only the Finnish forward Aapeli Rasanen was drafted in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Jacob Tortora, all 5’8”, 162 lbs of him, was ranked 165 by NHL Central Scouting amongst NA skaters, but remained undrafted. Tortora spent the last year on the US National U18 team and has a chance to make an impact if his speed and skill can overcome his size.

Other notable forwards joining the Eagles are Logan Hutsko and Casey Carreau. Hutsko was dealing with a neck injury last season and missed most of the year. Hutsko might need a year to adjust to the NCAA game given his lost year, but he does have a fair amount of skill and could improve under the tutelage of Coach York. Carreau is a product of the Thayer Academy as well as the Cape Cod Whalers. He averaged nearly 2 points a game while at Thayer. The Achusnet native will likely have a shot at some bottom six minutes given his scoring pedigree.

Bottom Line: All in all, this team does not look very impressive on paper. They have a very young roster with little defensive depth, their scoring has been evaporating with players leaving for the NHL and AHL, and there is no guarantee Woll can repeat his stellar season last year. That being said, this is Jerry York. This is BC. They just. Don’t. Lose. York was able to pilot a young team to the Hockey East Final last season, literally with one eye. I have no doubt in the capabilities of BC to get back to TD Garden this spring and challenge again for a Hockey East title.

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