1. BC is in the middle of the pack of Hockey East. What’s going on?
AF: Big thing to me is leadership. It's lacking this year, and it shows. The losses of Peter Harrold, Chris Collins, and Steve Gionta are hurting us more than just on the ice. Captain Brian Boyle and alternate Joe Rooney have both had their captain etters stripped this year for academic issues. That kind of thing doesn't set a good example to our younger players; and this is the second youngest team in the country (last year's Frozen Four team was the youngest at the time). In addition to Boyle's disappointing play up until the last 2 weeks or so, I also put a lot of the blame on Brett Motherwell. This is a kid, a sophomore defenseman, who had an absolutely ridiculous freshman campaign but has been simply terrible this year. He's had a few good games (most notably in a losing effort at Northeastern last month) but for a guy that was considered a dark horse candidate as a sophomore for the Hobey Baker Award (hockey's version of the Heisman), very bad. The kid has talent up the ass and will rebound, but it's just a question of can he do so in time to help save our season??
Another issue has been line chemistry. A second line of Rooney, Benn Ferriero, and Dan Bertram lit it up in the postseason last year but was inexplicably broken up at the beginning of this year; they were reunited for the game at BU and, until Friday night's loss to UMass, were sparking the team to victory just as they did back in the spring.
It should be said that this is a season of unprecedented parity in college hockey--the #5 team in the country, Denver, has 11 losses to date (one more than BC).
Finally, our power play is downright horrific, running at an embarassing 13.8% to date. It's gotten better of late, with 6'7 Boyle finally being posted in front of the net where he belongs, but still isn't great. Fact is that there have been games where we've gotten our shots and they simply didn't go in. The Wednesday night game against BU at Conte a couple weeks ago being the prime example. We don't have any Chris Collins (as a senior)-esque snipers on this team, and that will hurt us, because it means we need to get a ton of chances to score.
2. From what I can gather when this team takes on quality opponents, they either just get by with a narrow win or get blown away. Is it coasting? Adjusting? What’s the secret?
AF: Well, good teams are tough to beat. And I'm not sure I'd say that that's true in every case anyway. We blew out defending national champs Wisconsin twice in Madison, 3-0 and 4-1, back in October. There's certainly no shame in winning by one goal in OT at Maine and 1-0 at BU, even if it is squeaking by. And a 5-2 win at Agganis (BU) can't be discounted either. That said, we have suffered some horrible losses this year, most notably 7-1 at home against Notre Dame and 4-0 at Harvard in October and Friday's 5-3 loss to UMass. Basically it boils down to what I said earlier--the special teams and senior class need to step up, and we need to stop taking stupid penalties. Boyle is our most talented player, and can't be spending 15-20 minutes in the box as he's done in certain games this year.
3. We got smoked by Harvard earlier this year. What will be different this time around?
AF: Well, for starters, Harvard always seems to beat us in the fall. For some reason, we tend to play horribly in regular season play against two of the three legitimate OOC rivals we have (Harvard and Notre Dame; North Dakota being the third). But more importantly, they're simply not as talented of a team as BC is. They're unranked; sitting at 9-12-1 overall and 7-9-1 in ECACHL play. Don't buy too much into their regular season win over us; they've had our number in the fall for a while. It's just one of those things.
4. Assuming we move on and assuming BU moves on, how do you see the Final playing out?
AF: It's called the BU Invitational for a reason. BU hasn't made a Frozen Four since 1997; this is the pinnacle of their year. A Beanpot title is the 5th thing that BC fans want to accomplish (after a national title, a Frozen Four appearance, and Hockey East tournament and regular season titles) but for BU it's the ultimate goal. I'd love to see a BC victory but it's tough to pick against BU in the Beanpot; I'll say they win but we get our revenge in the Hockey East semis. Despite my pessimism I'll be scalping a ticket for the final if BC wins on Monday; this actually might not play in our favor, as the one Beanpot BC won in the last 4 years was the year I couldn't get a ticket for the final.