Boyle Breaks Out After Losing 'C'
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. It has been tumultuous week for Boston College's Brian Boyle to say the least.
Last Friday (Jan. 5) the Eagles blew a two-goal first-period lead before losing to Northeastern 3-2 in overtime. The biggest story of the night, however, was not the score, but rather the absence of letters on the chest of Boyle (the captain's "C") and assistant captain Joe Rooney (the assistant's "A").
Veteran coach Jerry York explained the reason — academics, specifically that they had been skipping too many classes. Those players, York said, needed to be leaders off the ice as well as on it.
It was only the latest headache for Boyle, who has underachieved this season. Coming off a 2005-06 campaign where he scored 22 goals and 52 points, and helped lead Boston College to the NCAA championship game, Boyle entered Friday night's contest against Merrimack with just seven goals and 16 points through 18 games.
York, who has had to light a fire under his talented senior in the past — most notably midway through his sophomore season, after which Boyle took off and became a force — thought that the Los Angeles Kings' first round pick could play better; so he moved the 6-foot-7 forward from center to left wing.
"We felt that Brian needed to be a real force in our games," York said in a conference call on Tuesday. "If he is not scoring goals, then we need him out there knocking players down and being a physical player. The other teams know who he is so they are working hard to defend him and that makes it more difficult; but I think he is capable of doing better."
Boyle did not take his coach's words lightly, having his best game of the season (statistically speaking) against Merrimack on Friday, scoring five points (one goal, four assists) in the Eagles' 6-1 win.
After the game, York thought that Boyle made a statement, but said that his play was not the reason he lost his letter.
"I've had no problems with him on ice," York said after the win. "Brian has had some trouble scoring and we need him to score more goals for us, but really it was an off-ice issue, I had no problem with him or Joe Rooney on the ice. In fact, I would say that Joe has been our best positional player this season."
Boyle put a lot on his own back this season. To his credit, he stuck around after last season's final-game loss to Wisconsin, when the Kings were pushing hard to get him. He decided he wanted one more crack at a national championship.
That decision has resulted in many ups and downs.
"I have responsibilities in terms of going to class and that's what I have to take care of, but hockey-wise nothing has changed," Boyle said Friday.
"It's been tough for me, and coach gave me a wakeup call. I know that I have to be more disciplined in academics. But really in terms of hockey I am working as hard as I can and so has the team, and that is really all I am worried about."
Boyle said that he doesn't expect his role to change.
"My role on the team is the same, I don't have to prove that anyone," Boyle said. "My teammates know that my role is the same and that's all that really matters."
Boyle was encouraged by the character his teammates showed in the situation.
"My biggest concern was that it would be a distraction to the team and what we are trying to do here and I didn't want that, but to be honest it hasn't been a distraction to the other guys at all," Boyle said. "Everyone is working hard and I didn't want to disrupt that and neither did Joe. No one got distracted though and everyone in our locker room is working hard to meet our goals."
And Friday it paid off with five points.
"Our entire line is playing well," he said. "It has been a little adjustment getting used to the wing but Benn (Ferreiro) and Joe are working as hard as anyone to get us rolling and we started that tonight; it is nice to have a winning streak going here."