Boston College season preview

By DJ Powers

The defending Hockey East Champions will open their 2005-06 regular season on October 14th when they travel to Yost Arena to face off against host Michigan in one of the early elite matches of the season.

Boston College saw the departure of ten seniors, but no loss was greater to the Eagles than the early departure of top scorer and Hockey East Player of the Year Patrick Eaves (OTT). Eaves opted to forego his final year of eligibility to sign with the Ottawa Senators. The Eagles also suffered significant losses on defense when goaltender Matti Kaltiainen (BOS), and defensemen Andrew Alberts (BOS), John Adams (BUF) and Greg Lauze all graduated. Given the high number of departures, Boston College will be a relatively young team this season with only seven upperclassmen. They also bring in one of the nation’s best recruiting classes this year.

With the key losses on defense, consistent goaltending will be crucial to Boston College’s success this season. Sophomore Cory Schneider (VAN) has been tabbed as this year’s starter. Schneider enjoyed a near perfect season in 2004-05 despite missing games due to the World Junior Championships and a late season knee injury. The Marblehead, MA native posted a 13-1-4 that included one shutout. He also led the nation with a .833 winning percentage and his 1.90 goals against average ranked sixth in the nation. This season will also mark the return of junior Joe Pearce (TB). Pearce sat out the entirety of the 2004-05 season and will be looking to challenging Schneider this year.

Guiding the young Boston College defensive corps this season is senior and team captain Peter Harrold. Despite suffering a shoulder injury early in the season and a bout with mononucleosis late in the season, Harrold became a big part of the Eagles’ outstanding defense last season and his leadership and experience will be vital in helping to stabilize the youthful defense. In addition to Harrold, the Eagles also return a trio of talented sophomores led by Mike Brennan and Brian O’Hanley (SJ). Brennan became one of the Eagles’ most reliable blueliners last season. He and defensive partner Alberts made up what became one of the best defensive duos in Hockey East. The versatile O’Hanley saw time both on defense and at forward last season. His value to team was measured by not only his offensive production, but also his ability to adjust and adapt to any situation on the ice.

In addition to the returning players, Boston College will see the arrival of four exceptional defensemen in Anthony Aiello (MIN), Tim Kunes (CAR), Brett Motherwell and Tim Filangieri. Both Aiello and Kunes were selected in this summer’s NHL Draft. Aiello is fluid skating defenseman who comes to Boston College from Thayer Academy where he had 34 points (7 goals, 27 assists). Kunes, an offensive defenseman, comes to Boston College from the NE Junior Falcons where he led defensemen in scoring with 40 points.

Motherwell is considered one of the top defensemen coming into Hockey East this season and it’s not hard to see why. He’s an offensive-minded defenseman who has demonstrated tremendous poise with the puck. Surprisingly, he was not taken in this past summer’s NHL draft. Motherwell comes to Boston College from Omaha (USHL) where captured the league’s Defenseman of the Year award after finishing second in scoring among defensemen with 40 points. Filangieri (pronounced “fill-n-gary”) brings size, grit and muscle to the Eagles defense this fall after a superb 2004-05 season with Waterloo (USHL).

Filling the huge hole that Eaves left is only one of the issues that the Eagles will have to address this season. Four of Boston College’s top five scorers from last season are gone. In addition to Eaves, the Eagles also lost Ryan Shannon (ANA), Dave Spina, Ned Havern (DAL) and Taylor Leahy all to graduation.

Junior Brian Boyle (LA) is the top returning scorer. The towering Hingham, MA native enjoyed a breakout season in 2004-05 that saw him finish tied for first on the team in goals scored with 19. Boyle and dynamic sophomore Dan Bertram (CHI) will be two players who will be relied upon to lead the Eagles offense this season. Bertram didn’t quite have the offensive year that many had hoped he would last season, finishing with 17 points (nine goals, eight assists). This season could prove to be much different as the Calgary native will be a year older with some collegiate experience under his belt.

A trio of outstanding upperclassmen in diminutive seniors Chris Collins and Stephen Gionta and junior Joe Rooney will also be called upon to help fill the holes left by the departed players. Collins finished the season with 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) appearing in all 40 games. Gionta, who gave opposing defenders fits all season long, finished with 19 points (8 goals, 11 assists). Rooney is a player who emerged as a force to be reckoned with last season. He finished the season with 20 points (4 goals, 16 assists). The trio will bring experience, leadership and a tremendous work ethic that will serve as models to the newcomers.

The Eagles will welcome five superb forwards to the lineup this fall. A pair of 2005 Buffalo Sabres draft selections in Nathan Gerbe and Andrew Orpik, along with Brock Bradford (BOS), Benn Ferriero and Kyle Kucharski all bring a high level of skill to Boston College. Gerbe, who has drawn comparisons to former Eagle Brian Gionta, comes to Boston College from the USNTDP after a 2004-05 campaign that saw him achieve some of his greatest success on special teams.

Orpik, the younger brother of former Eagles standout Brook Orpik, will bring size and versatility to Boston College. Orpik comes to Boston College from Thayer Academy where he saw playing time both at the forward and defense positions. Bradford is a centerman who possesses excellent vision and hockey sense. He comes to Boston College from Omaha (USHL) where he enjoyed an outstanding 2004-05 season that saw him amass 57 points.

Bradford, a Burnaby, BC native is one of two Canadian-born players on the Eagles roster. Ferriero and Kucharski both come to Boston College from New England prep schools. Ferriero, a skillful player noted for his tenacity, comes to Boston College from Governor Dummer Academy. He was the 2005 recipient of the Boston Bruins’ Carlton Award as the top New England high school player. Kucharski is a tall, lanky winger with very good offensive abilities. He comes to The Heights after a stellar season at Phillips-Andover Academy that saw him lead his team in goal scoring with 22.

(Number of NHL prospects on 2005-06 roster: 10)

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