The Boston College men’s hockey team finished their season with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Northeastern in the Hockey East Championship Game. A victory would have qualified the Eagles for an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. However, BC will now have to watch the tournament from home, as a somewhat disappointing season prevented the Eagles from being granted one of the remaining at-large bids.
BC was first in the preseason coaches rankings for the Hockey East, highlighting how much of a letdown the seventh-place regular season finish is. The team finished with a 14-22-3 overall record. Even so, the Eagles had an opportunity to right the ship and make it to NCAA tournament by making an improbable run through the conference playoffs.
A series victory over the second-seeded Providence Friars, followed by a victory over the top-seeded UMass Minutemen, left the Eagles with a great opportunity to sneak into the NCAA tournament field. The Eagles mounted a comeback in the championship game after being down 3-0, but ultimately came up just short, ending their season.
The Eagles will look to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2016 next season, but will do so without the help of a few key players from this year’s team. Goalie Joe Woll has left BC to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Woll was the main starter for the Eagles for all three of his seasons on the team. He will be replaced by fellow junior Ryan Edquist, as well as the highly-touted incoming freshman Spencer Knight.
Oliver Wahlstrom is leaving the team after just one season at BC. Wahlstrom, the eleventh pick by the New York Islanders in the 2018 NHL Draft, failed to live up to the hype that accompanied his arrival to Chestnut Hill. He finished with 19 points in his 36 games played.
The Eagles are also losing a significant portion of their defensive core with both of their captain defensemen Casey Fitzgerald and Michael Kim graduating.
Fortunately, leading scorer David Cotton is expected to return. It was initially believed that he would forego his senior season and report to the Carolina Hurricanes, but he is reportedly leaning towards graduating from BC before entering NHL free agency.
Despite losing a number of key contributors, the Eagles should be ready to compete again for a Hockey East title. With their three leading scorers, Cotton, Julius Mattila, and Hutsko, all returning, and another top recruiting class set to join the team in the fall, BC should be in good shape for the start of next season.
As an elite program, the Eagles will always have enough incoming talent to offset key losses. However, the program will need to improve its level of play and reach its lofty standards if it hopes to end a three-year absence from the NCAA tournament, a streak this program hasn’t seen since 1995-1997.
In other news, BC received good news about sophomore Logan Hutsko. The forward suffered a scary injury in the game against Northeastern in which he needed to be carted off the ice and taken to the hospital. He was released the following day and it was reported that he is expected to make a full recovery.