November 30, 2012

Hockey East Journal: Gaudreau takes charge of BC's attack

By Andrew Merritt


BC's Johnny Gaudreau ranks second in Hockey East with 19 points in 11 games. (Dave Arnold Photography)
 

Sophomore year is when you’re supposed to make the leap in college hockey. You’re forgiven for mistakes as a freshman, but in your second year, it’s time to show what you’re made of, and for a lot of players, it’s the sophomore season that proves whether they’re ready to play at a high level.

But what if you’re already playing at a high level when you’re a rookie? What comes next?

The answer to that is what we’re seeing in Johnny Gaudreau this year.

Gaudreau was a revelation as a freshman last season, coming one point short of leading the Eagles in scoring with 21 goals and 23 assists. But he was playing on a team with Chris Kreider (Boxford, Mass.), Barry Almeida (Springfield, Mass.), Paul Carey (Weymouth, Mass.) and defenseman Tommy Cross (Simsbury, Conn.) – seniors whose high level of play allowed Gaudreau to fly under the radar and get his feet under him as a rookie.

Now those local boys are gone, and for all intents and purposes, the Eagles are Gaudreau’s team. Nobody would have blamed the Calgary Flames prospect from Carneys Point, N.J., if he took a step back, bent under the pressure of being the big man on campus and had a good old fashioned sophomore slump.

Apparently, nobody told Gaudreau that was allowed. Instead of struggling, Gaudreau has excelled even more in his second year at Chestnut Hill. Entering this weekend’s games, he leads the Eagles with 9-10—19 totals, which also has him locked in a battle for the Hockey East scoring lead with New Hampshire’s Kevin Goumas. At the rate he’s going, Gaudreau would finish 2012-13 with 28 goals and 31 assists, and those 59 points would make him the most prolific sophomore in Hockey East since Maine’s Gustav Nyquist topped the scoring charts with a 19-42-61 line in 2009-10.

That point total would also almost certainly make him the Eagles’ scoring king, which would put him in elite company. The list of sophomores who have led the Eagles in scoring through the years includes such luminaries as Cam Atkinson, Brian Gionta, Marty Reasoner, Craig Janney, and in 1966-67, a young man from Watertown named Jerry York.

Gaudreau’s already solid 2012-13 season got a big boost Nov. 24 against Dartmouth, when he scored two goals and three assists to lead a 6-3 romp. He’s scored a point in every game this season, and is averaging 1.73 points per game. If the Dartmouth game is the start of a surge, Gaudreau could be well ahead of Goumas by the time 2012 becomes 2013.

It’s pretty clear Gaudreau’s freshman season wasn’t a fluke. It’s also pretty clear that now that he’s a year older, a year wiser, perhaps a little stronger and in charge of the BC attack, he’s ready to lead.

Player of the Week

Kevin Goumas, jr., UNH

The Wildcats had a great trip to Colorado, and Goumas was the keystone. He took over the league’s scoring lead with a seven-point weekend, including a hat trick with two assists against then-No. 2 Denver on Nov. 24.

Game of the Week

Boston College vs. Boston University, Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports)

It’s always a big deal when these two teams meet, but this time there’s history on the line. BC coach Jerry York enters the home-and-home set one win away from tying Ron Mason’s all-time coaching victory record of 924. If the Eagles win Friday night at Agganis Arena, it sets the stage for York to go for the record-breaker against his greatest rival, Jack Parker and BU, at Conte Forum on Saturday night.

Power Rankings

  1. Boston College (10-1-0, 8-1-0 HEA) – A lot went right for the Eagles against Dartmouth on Nov. 24, chiefly the top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Pat Mullane and Steven Whitney, who combined for 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) to key the BC victory. That trio (22-25—47) has supplied nearly half of BC’s 104 points in 11 games this year.

  2. New Hampshire (9-1-2, 6-1-1 HEA) – Saturday’s upset of Denver didn’t look good early on, as sophomore goalie Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) was pulled after giving up three goals on five shots in nine minutes. But junior Jeff Wyer, who had played in just three games in his career and none yet this season, stepped in and made 18 saves as hat tricks by Grayson Downing (his first) and Kevin Goumas led UNH to a most unlikely comeback win over the then-No. 2 Pioneers. 

  3. Boston University (7-4-0, 5-3-0 HEA) – The No. 9 Terriers rebounded from a loss to UNH on Nov. 18 with a win over St. Lawrence Saturday, giving freshman Sean Maguire his first collegiate shutout on 21 saves as BU continues to feel its way through a two-freshman goalie rotation. Freshman Sam Kurker (Reading, Mass.) also scored the first goal of his career.

  4. Providence (6-5-1, 4-3-0 HEA) – After getting shut out by Quinnipiac on Nov. 20, the Friars bounced back big with a 7-0 pounding in their Mayor’s Cup game at Brown, led by freshman Jon Gillies’ (Portland, Maine) 35-save shutout effort and goals from seven different players, including the first of Tom Parisi’s career.

  5. UMass-Lowell (4-5-1, 2-4-1 HEA) – The River Hawks have scored 11 goals in their last two games, and against Princeton on Nov. 24, they did all their scoring in a 1:22 window late in the second period, with Terrence Wallin, Michael Colantone and Joe Pendenza pushing UML to its second straight win.

  6. Merrimack (4-6-2, 3-3-1 HEA) – A non-conference game came at the right time for the Warriors, who tied Colgate on Nov. 13 to stop their three-game losing streak. Still, with no wins in four contests, things have looked brighter in North Andover, Mass., than they do right now.

  7. Northeastern (4-7-1, 2-6-1 HEA) – The Huskies are on a three-game losing streak after falling to St. Lawrence on Nov. 23, and they scored two goals in each of those defeats.

  8. UMass (4-5-2, 3-5-1 HEA) – By the numbers, there’s almost no argument against making sophomore Kevin Boyle the No. 1 in Amherst. He’s 2-0-2 in his last four games, and the Minutemen are 0-3-0 when he doesn’t play. His 1.59 goals against average and .939 save percentage are both sixth best in the country.

  9. Vermont (2-7-2, 2-5-2 HEA) – The Catamounts dropped a pair to Minnesota at home in the Gophers’ first-ever visit to Gutterson Fieldhouse, but the UVM penalty kill continued to shine, nixing eight of nine Minnesota power plays in the two-game set, improving to 36 kills on its last 40 opportunities.

  10. Maine (2-9-1, 1-5-1 HEA) – The Black Bears were idle over the post-Thanksgiving weekend, and get back at it with two home games against Vermont this weekend.

Andrew Merritt can be reached at MerrittNEHJ@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @A_Merritt.