Finding His Groove
BC's Mullane Stays Hot as Team Streaks
by Scott McLaughlin/CHN Writer
TAMPA, Fla. Pat Mullane's junior season started with a bang, when he registered two goals and two assists in the season-opening Ice Breaker tournament to help Boston College capture its first of four trophies thus far.
The assists kept coming — he had eight in the next eight games — but the goals didn't. He had none during that eight-game stretch, and none during the next 12 games after that either. Frustration set in. Mullane started pressing for goals and wound up seeing production of any kind dry up, as he tallied just five assists from Nov. 11 to Jan. 13.
"I started off really hot, and I think that almost got to my head a little bit," Mullane said. "I thought this was gonna be a really productive season goal-wise. I think I just started gripping my stick a little bit too tight. I got frustrated, and I don't think I was enjoying myself as much as I should."
Adding to Mullane's misery was the fact that his team wasn't winning either. During that 12-game stretch from mid-November to mid-January, the Eagles went just 5-6-1. Mullane wanted to help his team turn it around, but he couldn't even turn his own game around.
"When I wasn't producing, I was also frustrated because we were losing games and tying games," Mullane said. "I felt like when I was getting four or five chances a night and I wasn't scoring, that I obviously wasn't helping the team offensively. That's why I was getting so upset. We were losing one- or two-goal games, and I could've been the difference-maker. When we started winning games, that was when I started having a good time again."
Mullane ended his goal-scoring drought on Jan. 14 in a 2-1 win over Northeastern and has been one of BC's offensive leaders ever since. He has eight goals and 11 assists over the Eagles' last 20 games, including 17 points during their current 17-game winning streak. He now has a career-high 36 points on the season.
Mullane has been at his best during big games, something that has become a theme during his college career. He scored in the Beanpot championship against Boston University, scored in both games of a quarterfinal sweep against Massachusetts, scored in the Hockey East championship against Maine, and scored in the regional final against Minnesota-Duluth.
"He's really improved," said coach Jerry York. "He's always been a good player, but now he's reached the level where he can change a game. You need a lot of those type players when you get to this point. Whether it's a really good defensive play, or a crisp backhand pass that leads to a goal, or recently he's scoring goals. He's one of those game-changers."
Winning games wasn't the only thing that helped Mullane turn his season around. After BC got swept by Maine on Jan. 20-21, Mullane was put on a line with Paul Carey — whom he has played with in the past — and freshman Johnny Gaudreau. Although they are usually listed as the third line on the team's line charts, they have been BC's most productive trio in the second half, combining for 27 goals and 28 assists during the 17-game winning streak.
"They're both special players," Mullane said. "Paul's a great skater, one of the best skaters I've ever played with. He's a big body and he uses that to his advantage. He battles hard down low. Johnny Gaudreau, I mean, he's Johnny Gaudreau. He's special. He's got a pair of hands that you can't teach. His vision is unbelievable. It's great playing with both of them."
It wasn't the smoothest ride or the most consistent season, but nonetheless Mullane finds himself fourth on his team in points and centering one of the best lines in the country. He has already played a big role in helping the Eagles capture four trophies. Now he's looking to add one more — the biggest one — to the collection.