Hockey season has returned to Chestnut Hill.
The Boston College men’s hockey team kicks off its 2020-2021 campaign at home Friday evening against New Hampshire in a home-and-home series, with Friday’s game at Conte Forum and Saturday’s at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H.
The Eagles begin the season ranked as second in the country, right behind top-ranked North Dakota.
Unfortunately, the 2019-2020 season was abruptly cancelled due to COVID-19 on March 12, and Boston College sat at fourth in the country, riding a nine-game unbeaten streak that began after the devastating double-overtime Beanpot loss to BU on Feb. 3.
The unbeaten run propelled the Eagles into the top five, and there was immense excitement and anticipation surrounding the team on its quest for its 26th appearance in the Frozen Four. What was a promising season ended early for the Eagles due to health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus.
The team finished the season at 24-8-2, and won the Hockey Easy for the 20th time, a conference record.
On Nov. 11, Hockey East announced that for this season its member schools were going to play a conference-only schedule to make travel easier and to mitigate concerns related to the pandemic.
With 11 teams playing in the Hockey East, every school will play all other 10 schools in one home-away series, in addition to playing three of those 10 schools in a second home-away series. BC will play BU, New Hampshire, and Providence in two such series this season.
In total, the Eagles are expected to play 26 regular season games, in addition to a potential Hockey East playoff tournament and subsequent NCAA postseason tournament dependent upon their season record.
Sadly, the Beanpot tournament was cancelled for 2021 due to COVID-19, which is the first time it will not be played since its inception in 1952.
Last season, BC boasted a team mixed with an incredibly talented group of freshmen and an equally skilled veteran leadership core of upperclassmen, making the Eagles one of the most complete teams in the country. Of the eight freshmen, five of them were drafted in the NHL, three of who were taken in the first round (Matt Boldy at 12th overall, Spencer Knight 13th, and Alex Newhook 16th).
This season, the Eagles were able to retain all eight members of their star-studded freshman class, and the team will undeniably be looking to their ability and maturity to guide them this season.
Head coach Jerry York, in his 27th season as BC’s head coach and 49th in Division I, brings in a freshman class of 11 student-athletes, with four having been drafted back in October during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
The roster this season looks drastically different than the previous season, as 20 of the 26 members are either freshmen or sophomores. Without the veteran leadership that they had last season with the likes of captain David Cotton and the Mattila twins, this team will have to find its leadership and experience in different areas.
There is no denying the abundant levels of talent present in this squad, as evidenced by such a high national ranking. Experience and leadership are what wins championships, though, and so it is vital that this group is able to come together as a team to live up to the extremely high expectations that the 2020 season brings.
This team will be more than exciting to watch, from start to finish. It is disappointing that fans won’t be able to pack Conte Forum for them on a weekly basis, but there is no doubt that the Eagles will have endless support both on and off campus.
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