BC Defense Remains Strength
by Tim Rosenthal/Staff Writer
Over the past three seasons, Boston College has had the luxury of one of the best defenses in the country.
Led by Mike Brennan, the Eagles last season allowed 94 goals in 42 games, an average of 2.24 per game, which was third in Hockey East behind Vermont and Boston University. This year however, the Eagles will have a tough task: replacing goaltender Cory Schneider.
"There is a different learning curve," said Brennan about the goaltending. "Our new goalies have some of the best forwards shooting on them."
When asked about a change in the defense, Brennan said, "I don't think from a defensive standpoint we need to change much. I think we need to grow as a group."
Said BC coach Jerry York, "Our goal is to limit the shots on goal that John Muse sees his first year."
"There is a huge growing process. You grow a lot from freshman year to senior, not just on the ice but off," Brennan said. "Freshman year you were kind of wide-eyed kept your ears and eyes open. I watched guys such as Ryan Shannon, Andrew Alberts, Ryan Murphy, leaders like that, you kind of take things from them see how they have gone from freshman year to senior year, each year you grow until the leader you are going to be."
For a team that has lost the national title game each of the last two seasons, this new campaign provides a whole new set of challenges. Many top players have moved on, but many remain as well.
"I think every year there is something different," Brennan said. "This year I think we are a very close group. Half the team has played in the National Championship game and they know what it takes to get there. Everyone has gotten stronger."
Part of the credit to everyone getting stronger is due to the conditioning.
"Our strength and conditioning coach Russ DeRosa does a great job," Brennan said. "Most of our team stayed and lifted weights during the summer. We have a very good program and you can tell everyone has gotten stronger."
There is a lot of things that go into a team, but one of them is unity.
"I think the chemistry is the biggest thing with this team." Brennan said. "I think the coaches do a good job bringing in character guys and they do whatever it takes for the team to win games and chase trophies. In that aspect, I think it goes overlooked sometimes."
Hockey East has seen goal scoring decline in recent years, something that the Eagles and their defensive play have helped with. But Brennan said, that doesn't mean the defensive side is easier.
"Hockey East is always an up-tempo quick league," said Brennan. "The goals went down last year because there were so many good goalies, but it is always known for being a quick, up-tempo league. I think the offense will be just as good if not better than last year.
"UNH stands out the most. They are definitely a quick strike type of team. Every year they seem to have the fast quick paced offense.
"I think our league is very deep again. Any team can be beat and that is what makes it fun and competitive."
Brennan, who was an assistant captain last year, has been chosen by his teammates to wear the "C" this season.
"Your role changes a bit, but I don't think it is a drastic change," said Brennan. "I think we have a lot of leaders on this team, which makes my job and the captains job a lot easier when you have a lot of juniors and seniors into leadership roles. I think if you are on the same page with everyone else on the team things go smoothly."
This year even with a new goaltender, there are a lot of expectations for the Eagles. They are tied in the preseason coaches' poll in Hockey East with New Hampshire, and some might even consider the Eagles a Frozen Four team again.
"I think there is a lot of expectations for the team," Brennan said. "I think we need to go out and prove it to ourselves, and prove it to each other. We have a lot of talent to prove it, but it is a roller coaster of a season. The biggest things is not letting the highs get too high and the lows get too low. Hopefully we can hang some banners this year."