October 31, 2007 PRINT Bookmark and Share

What about Whitney?

by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer

Who are the best freshmen in college hockey?

The two most likely answers you would hear to that question is UNH's James vanRiemsdyk, or Wisconsin's Kyle Turris.

And it's hard to argue. Turris leads the nation in scoring with 12 points in just four games. VanRiemsdyk has been one of the best players for the Wildcats, netting four points in three games.

But, if you take a look under Turris' name in the national leaders, you'll notice another freshman; one much less talked about.

Joe Whitney doesn't stand very tall. But, the 5-foot-6, 165-pound forward from Boston College is quietly one of the nation's best rookies.

A product of Reading, Mass., Whitney leads the Eagles in scoring with three goals and eight assists through six games. He has already proved to be an integral part of the BC attack, and has helped fill the void left by Brian Boyle, who is 13 inches taller.

"He's been one of the guys we rely on," said head coach Jerry York, whose team is off to a 3-1-2 start. "He is one of the guys out there on our power play, and he has been producing. He is finding ways to get points, and he is still getting better."

On Sunday against Merrimack, Whitney was on the Eagles' first power-play unit that rolled five forwards.

"It starts over the summer, getting in shape," he said. "I felt I was ready when we started and when you're playing with some of the best players in the country, it makes it easier to do what you do."

Whitney has earned points in every game this season, with the exception of the fog-shortened 0-0 tie with North Dakota.

His contributions haven't gone unnoticed either. This week, he was named Hockey East's rookie of the week after posting six points in a weekend sweep of the Warriors.

"We have a close knit group here," he said. "Obviously, it feels great to be able to come in here and contribute to this group right away, but as a team, we only have one goal, and that's to win championships.

"I love the fact that I am helping out, but personally, if we are winning games, I couldn't care less if I score points or not. It's not about who scores the goals, as long as you win the games."

Regardless, playing at BC fulfills a boyhood dream.

"I've been a BC fan since I was about seven years old," he said. "My family is too, you get bit by it when you grow up around here.

"Being from here is great too, because my family gets to come to most of the games."

A few years ago, there was another Whitney that played in Hockey East, 6-foot-4 Ryan Whitney was a standout defenseman for Boston University.

"Are you kidding me? I wish we were related, but we're not," Whitney said with a smirk. "I wish I was, maybe I'd be a little taller, you know?"

Maybe being 5-6 isn't so bad. It seemed to work for a former Eagle. His last name was Gionta, or something.

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