Team of the Week: Boston College
CHN Staff Report
Last Monday night, Boston College won its fifth consecutive Beanpot with a well-earned 4-1 win over crosstown rival Northeastern. The victory kicked off another Trophy Season in Chestnut Hill.
Saturday night in Burlington, Vt., the Eagles completed a two-game sweep of Vermont with a 4-3 win. The victory clinched the Hockey East Regular Season Championship for the Eagles, earning them a second trophy in six days and the College Hockey News Team of the Week honor.
The league’s regular-season title frequently goes ignored as the season advances. Postseason trophies are, ultimately, all that college hockey fans remember. However, the grueling nature of league schedules around the country means these regular-season trophies are as difficult to win as any.
A year ago, the league’s championship wasn’t decided until the final night of the season, and a number of teams could’ve claimed the honor based on results. For BC to lock up this championship with two full weekends left in the regular season is a remarkable accomplishment for a program familiar with such feats.
“This time of year comes with new challenges, but winning the league is a great accomplishment,” BC senior defensmen Isaac MacLeod said. “We want to win every game, every tournament we enter. We took time to enjoy winning that trophy and took some pictures, but we’re not done. We have some regular-season games left, and we want to finish well. Our eyes are on the Hockey East Tournament now.”
Even as a senior, MacLeod understands the value of claiming these trophies. With a number of championships already won in his career – and those of his upperclassman teammates – MacLeod said the culture at BC means complacency is never an issue.
The sting of last season’s early exits in the Hockey East Tournament and NCAA Tournament offered even more motivation for the Eagles. Beyond that, MacLeod and the other BC upperclassmen credit the arrival of a large freshman class with motivating the club even further.
“The players our coaching staff brings in aren’t just good players,” MacLeod said. “They want to win games and championships. It doesn’t get old winning titles, so I don’t worry about (complacency) on my end.”
The young players have also brought new depth and talent to the BC roster. This is especially true in the defensive corps MacLeod leads. Steve Santini, Scott Savage and Ian McCoshen make up a gifted group of freshman defensemen playing major minutes for the Eagles. As the season’s progressed, MacLeod has seen the group, along with those returning from a year ago, become one of the nation’s best units.
“We came into the season with a lot of youth in our defensemen,” MacLeod said. “Even Danny Linell is a converted defenseman, we didn’t really know what to expect. The guys have done a great job this season. They’re still just freshmen. They’ve only played 30 games or so. They’re not just out there on the ice hiding trying not to make mistakes. They’re making plays and playing with confidence.”
Last season, BC experienced a similar issue with Mike Matheson, Teddy Doherty, Colin Sullivan and Travis Jeke joining the program. Matheson had an especially dominant season as a rookie while the others played their roles. Sullivan is no longer with the program. However, Doherty has continued his emergence as a reliable option and ace on the power play.
This year’s group of rookie blue liners is more talented as a unit, and it’s shown, especially as the season’s progressed. Last year, BC entered the stretch run as a contender for championships. The development of this group is the reason the Eagles are now a favorite. The brilliance of Johnny Gaudreau and Co. up front certainly doesn’t hurt. However, this year’s BC team is hardly just driven by its scoring.
Freshman goaltender Thatcher Demko has also enjoyed a successful second half for the Eagles. Since becoming the No. 1 for the Eagles in late January, Demko is 8-0-1 with a .945 save percentage and 1.54 goals-against average. Junior Brian Billet started Saturday’s game and is certainly a capable option for York. Demko, who only turned 18 in December, is the type of talent in goal that coaches dream of. With only 15 appearances to his credit, Demko looks ready to claim BC’s crease for the foreseeable future.