February 23, 2007 PRINT Bookmark and Share

BC Heats Up

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

Who gets hot starting now will be a major factor in deciding this season's national champion.

Boston College is one of those teams with that capability, and judging by the past two weeks, it appears that it might be happening.

The Eagles followed up a tough loss in the Beanpot final with a two-game sweep of Maine, and a win over Massachusetts-Lowell.

Of course, coach Jerry York has seen this from his team before.

"We were much more consistent in this past week," York said. "During the course of the year, we had some fluctuations between being a very good team and a very average team. I think in the BU game and the Maine games, we were more consistently a solid hockey team."

Part of the resurgence can be traced to the line of Brian Boyle, Nathan Gerbe and Brock Bradford. Throughout his four-year career, Boyle has had his ups and downs. York has implored him numerous times to get his big 6-foot-7 frame more involved and active, and some times it works. Other times, Boyle goes into funks.

"Brock and Nathan have pushed the big guy, and he's playing his best hockey of the year," York said. "I do think that Brock and Nathan are the two catalysts of our club."

Earlier in the year, Boyle had his captaincy stripped. It was for off-ice reasons, but it still pointed to discouraging signs. Recently, his 'C' was returned to him.

"I don't think he's played as well as his junior year for most of the year, but he has caught fire recently. The chemistry of the line, he's a man out there now. He has controlled a lot of the pace of the game. He looks more focused.

"When's he's focused and he's really ready to play, he's one of the top players. ... It's hard to figure exactly how that is every time (that Boyle has funks). They say coaching, if it was easy, it would be a dull profession. We have all types of personalities. Some players that barely make the team will be the most consistent. Sometimes a top 10 player are complex people. You deal with that and try to get the best out of them."

Meanwhile, the third line of Matt Greene, Matt Price and Pat Gannon is clicking, providing more energy.

"Matt Greene has really kicked it into another gear now," York said. "They all skate well. When they're together, the tempo is extraordinary. They've become a real source of pride for our club."

In addition, Cory Schneider is back to being Cory Schneider, coming off a 16-save shutout of Lowell. He has played all but six minutes this season, the highest percentage of his team's minutes played than any goaltender in the nation.

"Schneider is in great shape," York said. "He's not the exception in minutes played. It's a Martin Brodeur type thing. They get in great shape and just roll. (Maine's Ben) Bishop was probably going to play every game until he got hurt there. Six, seven years ago they were all splitting — if not 75-25.

"Hockey East is different (than the other leagues) because geographically, there's not a lot of travelling and wear and tear."

At 15-8-1 in the league (19-11-1 overall), BC is essentially battling with BU for second place in Hockey East, which ultimately will not mean a whole lot. Likely first-round NCAA opponents for BU are Michigan, Miami and Clarkson; and also Denver, while that game would be in Denver.

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