Boston College, Atkinson, Off and Running Again
by Joe Meloni/CHN Reporter
BOSTON The frustration was cathartic.
After two-and-a-half periods of open looks and back-and-forth, Boston College winger Cam Atkinson drifted to the top of right faceoff circle with his mind set on doing what he did more than anyone in the country last season.
Senior Joe Whitney took a hard step at the midpoint, to create space and slid the puck to Atkinson waiting. He set his sights on a puck-sized crease to the left of Northeastern goaltender Chris Rawlings, while the BC faithful – about a quarter of the sold out crowd – set its eyes on the scoreboard.
As Atkinson finished his mousetrap-fast slapshot, his blade collided with the ice and shattered as the puck skidded harmlessly to toward the slot. The junior fired the remnants of his weapon away and shouted toward the ceiling as he skated off for a new stick.
This time around, as the Eagles struggled with the crosstown Huskies in what was a scoreless tie at that point, Steven Whitney picked Atkinson and the rest of his team up with a goal later in the power play to give BC a 1-0 lead with fewer than eight minutes left in regulation.
Ultimately, no one at the Heights cares who scored the winning goal or how it happened. They’ll take the two points earned in a season opener and move forward.
Still, Atkinson scored 30 goals last season – six of which came in the NCAA Tournament. He, like every other player to accept a scholarship offer from Jerry York, understands the expectations on him to produce. After his performance last year, though, he’s not expected only to improve or serve as a compliment to BC’s top forwards. He’s a candidate for the Hobey Baker award, and BC isn’t defending its championship if he doesn’t find the form he did a year ago.
“Everyone here has high expectations, whether you’re a forward or a [defenseman],” Atkinson said. “We all have the same job, and we just have to go out there and keep it simple. That’s when the points will come. We really played well tonight, and it was a team effort.”
Given his performance on Saturday night, a game the Eagles ultimately won, 2-0, after Brian Gibbons added an empty-net goal, there’s no reason to expect that he won’t, either.
While he failed to crack the score sheet, the confidence that came with his remarkable success a season ago was there. The rhythm he developed with linemates Gibbons and Joe Whitney popped up in spurts – just enough to make the Eagles and their fans think another 30-goal, 50-point season is a very realistic possibility.
“I got a little more comfortable,” Atkinson said about 2009-10 and playing with Gibbons and Whitney. “I never rushed anything, and I was able to keep my composure. I kept it simple, and worked hard. If I do that again, the goals and assists will come.”
Aside from the responsibility of the carrying the top line on the nation’s preseason favorite, Atkinson, as an upperclassman, understands he has a level of responsibility away from the ice as well. There’s no shortage of experience at BC these days, which is only adding to the collective expectations. After all, you don’t win a national championship, graduate four kids and fail to earn to the chance to defend your championship.
Player such as Gibbons, Joe Whitney and John Muse will assume a majority of those responsibilities, but the Eagles will need a lot of it with 10 underclassmen skating every night. For some, it may be too much. Leading the offense for the first time, while setting an example for everyone else.
But Cam Atkinson wants the job.
“It’s going to be real tough,” Atkinson said, “but I’m up for the challenge. I want it.”