Hockey East Preview – Boston College Eagles

By: Ryan Fallon

250px-BostonCollegeEagles.svgHead Coach – Jerry York, 22nd season

Last season – 21-14-3 (12-7-3, t-2nd in Hockey East); lost in 2nd round of Hockey East playoffs to Vermont, lost in 1st round of NCAA tournament to Denver

Losses – F Danny Linell, F Michael Sit, F Quinn Smith, F Cam Spiro, F Destry Straight, D Noah Hanifin, D Michael Matheson, G Brad Barone, G Brian Billett

Newcomers: F Jeremy Bracco, F Chris Brown, F, JD Dudek, F Chris Shero, F ColinWhite, F Miles Wood, D Josh Couturier, D Casey Fitzgerald, G Chris Birdsall

Last season was a relatively quiet one on Chestnut Hill. Compared to the Eagles teams of recent years, last year’s edition struggled offensively. BC scored 2.82 goals per game – just seventh in Hockey East – and only three players scored ten goals or more.  The below-average offense held them back; BC struggled on the road in conference play, going 4-5-2. The team dropped its Beanpot semifinal to Northeastern, ending the school’s five year reign. The Eagles did manage to finish second in Hockey East (tied with national champion Providence), but ultimately the offensive issues cost them their season. They lost their last three games (the Hockey East quarterfinals to Vermont and the first round of NCAAs to Denver) scoring just three goals total in that stretch.

The summer saw a mass exodus of talent. Four of BC’s five graduated forwards played all 38 games last season. Junior captain Michael Matheson decided to forego his senior season and sign with the Florida Panthers. Would-be sophomore Noah Hanifin also left, signing with the Carolina Hurricanes after being drafted fifth overall in June.

This is Boston College though; there is a ton of talent still on campus, including eight returning draft picks. The Eagles return their three top scorers from the 2014-15 season. Alex Tuch, the Minnesota Wild draft pick, led the team with 28 points his freshman campaign and is back for more. A fellow Wild pick, Adam Gilmour, goes into his junior season after putting up 27 points a year ago. Rising junior Ryan Fitzgerald is back as well, bringing his team-leading 17 goals with him.   Ian McCoshen will be a huge piece of the solution on the defensive front, but the biggest may be Steve Santini, who played just 22 games a year ago due to a wrist injury. The Eagles also happen to be returning the best goalie in the league with Thatcher Demko, an undisputed title now that Jon Gillies has left for Calgary.

The incoming class is particularly strong as well. BC is bringing in defenseman Casey Fitzgerald, Ryan’s younger brother. Fitzgerald is a product of USA Hockey’s National Development Program and played on the gold-winning U.S. Men’s U-18 team. Colin White, who scored the game-winner in that gold medal game, is also arriving on campus. Additionally, the Eagles will add Miles Wood, who was part of the USA team for the World Junior Championship in 2015, and Jeremy Bracco, another National Team Development Program alum whose 168 points ranks third in program history behind just Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel.

Bottom Line: Losing Matheson and Hanifin are huge blows, but the Eagles retain their top scorers from a year ago. Throw in a promising incoming class with firepower and, above all else, the continued presence of Thatcher Demko and Jerry York, and BC is once again primed to be a threat for every title up for grabs.

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