Gaudreau an Instant Classic Eagle
by Jillian Saftel/CHN Reporter
BOSTON Johnny Gaudreau is, at first glance, an unlikely Hockey East powerhouse. Listed at 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, the humble, unassuming freshman forward out of a small town in New Jersey isn’t what most people think of when they picture a Hockey East Tournament MVP. But on March 17, it was Gaudreau and his linemates on Boston College’s third line that propelled the Eagles to their third straight Hockey East title and into the NCAA regionals.
“I’m excited to win the MVP but it’s more important about winning the big trophy with the team,” Gaudreau said. “We’ve had a lot of success from every single player on the team and we’re so close in the locker room and I think that’s helped us out along the way.”
It’s Gaudreau’s ability to stay focused on his team amidst league-wide success so early in his college career that has impressed his veteran teammates, both with his production on the ice and attitude off the ice.
“Johnny’s skills are incredible. Even his own teammates marvel at the stuff he can do in practice and on the ice. But I think the type of guy he is, the biggest thing is he’s a team first guy and when you get a star player that’s a team first guy, that’s a really good recipe.,” BC captain Tommy Cross said. “He’s stayed humble and for the most part he’s been pretty consistent his freshman year. That’s really impressive because it’s a jump to this level.”
The MVP and All-Tournament team mention accounted for two of BC’s four goals of the night, his first coming from a backhander off a rebound to give the Eagles an early lead.
When he struck again, it was his ability to be in the right place at the right time that gave him the opportunity, again putting away a rebound off a teammates slap shot and later added an assist on Pat Mullane’s goal.
“He’s got those qualities you can’t teach… the skill level is outstanding,” York said. “He and Pat Mullane have had great chemistry together.”
Joining Gaudreau on the third line Saturday was junior center Mullane who notched a goal and an assist, and senior right-winger Paul Carey who also had an assist on the night.
Not only did the third line account for three of the game’s four BC goals, but they’ve also played a part in 12 of BC’s 16 goals throughout their last five games, playing an integral role in the team’s late season success.
That success included a 15-game winning streak that began with a Jan. 27 win over New Hampshire and has extended to their win over Maine in Saturday’s Hockey East Championship, a streak they’ll be looking to extend as the No. 1 seed in the Northeast NCAA Regional in Worcester this weekend.
The three forwards also fall into BC’s top eight in scoring; Gaudreau ranks third with 17 goals and 19 assists, Mullane sixth with eight goals and 25 assists, and Carey eighth with 15 goals and ten assists.
“I’ve been playing with Patty [Mullane] all season mostly and we’ve become really close and play really well together. To get Pauly [Carey] on our line was just an extra boost for us. From the minute Coach put us together we played really well and ever since then we’ve been playing really well together,” Gaudreau said.
York credited Gaudreau’s outstanding play up front, along with senior Parker Milner’s goaltending in back, as one of the two key reasons BC was able to go on the run they did throughout the second half of the season, which got them to No. 1 in the nation. The head coach said while everyone played a part, Gaudreau was one of the two players to really step up their game lately.
Gaudreau, who was headed to Northeastern last year before a change in coaches there prompted him to switch his commitment, certainly stepped up in Hockey East’s championship matchup against Maine, with only one BC goal without his name attached to it. But he’ll need to continue high levels of production with his linemates as the Eagles gear up for the NCAA Tournament.
The young, humble player may seem the unlikely candidate, but he could be the key to national success for the Eagles in the coming weeks, beginning on Saturday as they take on the Northeast Regional’s fourth seed, Air Force.