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Boston College 4, Boston University 3: Eagles complete sweep

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Boston College picked up the 4-3 win Saturday to cap off the sweep of Boston University, as the Terriers

The Eagles drew first blood with a pair of tallies a little over halfway through the first period, as they capitalized on a 5-on-3 chance with Will Smith sliding a cross-crease one-timer to Gabe Perreault which gave him his second goal of the weekend. Just a minute later, a blocked shot deflected right onto the stick of Lukas Gustafsson, who potted it past the Terrier netminder that made it 2-0 Eagles.

BU would grab one with just 15 seconds left in the period however before tying it 3:39 into the second period, though Cutter Gauthier gave BC the lead back with six minutes to go in the second period — Leonard fed a backward backhand pass to the wide open Gauthier, and he went five-hole and in from the faceoff dot to make it 3-2 BC heading into the third.

Smith made it a two-goal lead with just over six minutes to play, which mooted Macklin Celebrini’s late goal as BC took the weekend series.

The Eagles return to play Friday night against UMass Lowell before they return to action against the Terriers with the Beanpot Monday night.

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Hockey

Summer Recruiting Period: Will Moore of the USNTDP Verbally Commits to BC

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Photo by CHL

The theme of highly skilled forwards out of the US National Development Program continues under Greg Brown following Will Moore’s decision to verbally commit to Boston College on Monday via his Instagram. As the first five-star player from the ’07 birthyear to commit to Boston College, Moore is set to arrive on campus in the fall of 2025 following one more season for the USNTDP in Plymouth, MI.

Though born in Mississauga, ONT. Canada, Moore plays for the US National Development Program as a dual citizen choosing the college route as many skilled Canadian skaters have done in recent years. Leading the u-17 team in goals last season, Moore is set to join fellow countryman Dean Letourneau down the middle in 2025 following his draft season. Moore at 6’2”, 161 lbs, has some growing to do in his final season at the USNTDP but will serve as a major offensive threat for BC once he grows into his body.

The 2024 NHL Draft is almost upon us, and we will have more news on BC recruits at the end of the month.

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Basketball

DiMauro: All in all, a solid year for BC sports

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If you are reading this, chances are your primary means of remaining connected to Boston College runs through athletics.

Oh, and we’ve been tortured souls, too, especially in recent years. We are idealists and fatalists, demanding yet forgiving, loyal and resilient, even if sometimes it feels as though we make the long trek up the cliff to Lovers Leap … only to get shoved.

All of which makes the sports year of 2023-24 a time to celebrate. Boston College did itself proud, no small occurrence given that in this unsteady (perverse?) time of expansion and realignment, schools like BC must always look their Sunday best, with no overt warts or love handles.

Women’s lacrosse, BC’s working definition of pride and joy, capped the sports season with the national championship Memorial Day weekend in Cary, NC. It was the program’s second natty in four years, a three-hour infomercial for the entire institution and more proof that, yes, it can be done at BC with the right coach.

Acacia Walker-Weinstein – you’ll note that only the letter “W” separates her from “Einstein” – not only hung a banner, but helped BC earn a distinction few other athletic programs in the country could trumpet. How many other schools made national championship games (both televised by ESPN) in two different sports fewer than two months apart?

Think about that one: Men’s hockey, during an otherwise memorable season, fell short in the national championship game. But the Sons of Greg Brown did the school proud all season. Not a bad accomplishment to see “BC in the national finals” on the ESPN scroll in mid-April (hockey) and late May (lacrosse). It’s hard to buy that kind of advertising, particularly when and if realignment and expansion happen again.

Football won a bowl game over a ranked team at Fenway Park, returns a dynamo in Thomas Castellanos and then made the splash of a cannonball, hiring Bill O’Brien as head coach. Three other women’s sports showed promise as well: field hockey (11-7, made the ACC Tournament); softball (30-24, made the ACC Tournament) and volleyball, which continues to improve steadily under coach Jason Kennedy, finished 19-13 and made the ACC Tournament.

Otherwise, baseball gets a pass as new coach Todd Interdonato assimilates to the ACC and establishes his culture; the soccer programs (3-9-5 and 3-9-6) were lousy; and I remain concerned about men’s and women’s basketball. Put it this way: Sure feels as though better players are leaving than are entering.

Off the field, “Friends Of The Heights,” BC’s Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) collective, grew massively, keeping BC competitive in a cutthroat environment. Friends Of The Heights also homered into the upper deck, hiring veteran athletic administrator Jim Paquette as its new Chief Development Officer. Paquette will advise the Board on overall development strategies, using his 16 years as an administrator at BC that specialized in fundraising.

BC’s overall cachet also made a splash on social media when Forbes Magazine named it one of the country’s “New Ivies.”

Based on its researchForbes, the century-old national business magazine, reported that American companies are souring on hiring Ivy League graduates, instead preferring high achievers from 20 other prominent universities – “Private and Public New Ivies.”

BC joins private school “New Ivies” Carnegie Mellon, Emory, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Rice, Notre Dame, Southern California and Vanderbilt. Ah, to be judged by the company one keeps.

One school year hasn’t produced this much for BC in years. And it’s significant. The idea now is to build, not regress.

Full disclosure: There are many things I still don’t like. I’m told Father Leahy neither attended the Frozen Four nor the lacrosse Final Four. It is disrespectful to the players, coaches and alumni to have a leader who acts as if so much about what makes BC great is beneath him. And we still seem to have these spasms of tone deafness, such as patrolling the parking lots like stormtroopers the day of the spring football game.

But 2023-24 was an encouraging year for BC in many ways. Yes, we always want more. But we were getting less for a long time. Not this year. A tip of the cap to athletic director Blake James, his staff, the coaches and the kids.

We pause now to enjoy summer and await Labor Day night in Tallahassee. Here’s to 2024-25, hollering “Mr. Brightside” again with the kids from the crowded bleachers.

Mike DiMauro, a columnist in Connecticut, is a contributor to Eagles Daily and a member of BC’s Class of 1990. He may be reached at m.dimauro@theday.com or @BCgenius 

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Lay of the Land: Where Does BC Stand After Their Championship Loss?

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Photo by CBS News

ST. PAUL MN. – Following their loss to Denver University in the NCAA championship game, the Eagles faced an emotional send-off to their best season in over a decade. During an action-packed week of hockey, festivities, and awards in the state of hockey, the Eagles experienced a week that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. However, after the inevitable end of hockey season, teams have to say goodbye to their league-bound stars with decisions having to be made, and players needing to depart. Looking ahead to next season, BC’s roster will look different, but will not lose any degree of star power.

Recapping the Final

In a game that featured two teams playing for the first time since October, both the Eagles and Pioneers’ looked different than how they started the season. Since dropping an early one to the Pioneers in the fall, the Eagles have seen their roster develop rapidly, with Denver keeping up in their own regard. Going into action on the day of the final, both teams featured two of the best offenses in the country, with two elite goaltenders. Based on the matchup, the result of the game was a toss-up from the start.

However, though the Eagles had one of the best rush offenses in the country, the Pioneers succeded in stifling BC as soon as they started the breakout. Despite the Eagles trying to play fast and get in behind the Pioneers’ defensemen, Denver stayed above the puck and clogged up the neutral zone, forcing BC to dump the puck.

The Pioneers’ defense was phenomenal throughout the game, but Denver’s goaltending was the story of the game. Despite BC’s Jacob Fowler having a solid game in his own right allowing only two goals against, Denver’s Matt Davis played the game of his life at the best possible time. Stopping every one of the 35 shots the Eagles threw at him, Davis refused to budge, making the save of the season, and robbing BC’s Ryan Leonard on the doorstep with a desperation save.

Though the Eagles’ defense did not allow many high-danger chances throughout the game, the Pioneers found the holes when they needed two, ripping two perfect shots top-shelf past Fowler.

Following their 2-0 loss to the Pioneers, the Eagles need to face some tough decisions when it comes to the contract signing period and look ahead to the transfer portal.

Notable Departures

-Cutter Gauthier

After the culmination of the Frozen Four, NHL teams look toward their blue-chip prospects for help to push for the Stanley Cup. In the case of the Anaheim Ducks, they held the rights to former BC forward Cutter Gauthier and chose to sign him on an entry-level contract starting next year. However, Gauthier was able to play in Anaheim’s last regular season game against the Vegas Golden Knights where he recorded his first point.

-Jack Malone

Even though he only spent one season with the Eagles, Jack Malone will leave a tremendous void in BC’s roster after the best season of his college career. Playing most of the year on the third-line center ice role, Malone’s penalty-killing and two-way game were invaluable in getting BC out of jams such as against UConn in the Hockey East quarterfinals. Malone was also able to deliver the goal of a lifetime against Quinnipiac in the NCAA regional finals where he sent BC to their first Frozen Four since 2016.

-Jacob Bengtsson

As another one of BC’s portal pickups in the 2023 offseason, Bengtsson brought a tremendous amount of stability and leadership to this year’s roster. As a defenseman who played more of a stay-at-home role throughout the season, Bengtsson still had the skating and vision to join the rush when he needed to without leaving his teammates stranded on the back end. By just recently signing an AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies, Bengtsson will start his professional hockey career next fall.

-Colby Ambrosio

After spending a full four seasons of college hockey with the Boston College Eagles dating back to the COVID season in 2021, Ambrosio has decided to take his remaining year of NCAA eligibility into the transfer portal. This season, Ambrosio sacrificed personal success for team success in forfeiting his spot in the top six to younger and more skilled teammates to match up against other teams’ best lines. Ambrosio was someone who gave it their all every shift he had and it is no secret that his teammates and fans will miss the energy he brought to the ice.

-Charlie Leddy

Given the talented recruiting class coming in and the return of BC captain Eamon Powell for a fifth season, Leddy decided to take his talents into the transfer portal looking ahead to the 2024-25 season. Even though Leddy never scored a lot of points for BC from the back end, his absence will be felt on the penalty-killing and shot-blocking fronts. As a fourth-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2022, Leddy will need to prove himself as a top-six defenseman on another team to pursue a professional contract due to his offensive game not being there quite yet.

-Jamie Armstrong

In finishing his five-year career with the BC Eagles after shifting to the other side of Comm. Ave after a four-year career with the BU Terriers, Armstrong left his mark on the Eagles roster. Though he missed the first third of the season with an injury, Armstrong took on the role of a gritty third-line winger with honor. Perhaps Armstrong’s best role throughout the season was that of a penalty-killing specialist. As someone whose stick seemed to always be in the right place, Armstrong will undoubtedly secure a minor-league contract in the 2024 offseason.

Notable Arrivals

-James Hagens (USNTDP)

Despite the numerous amount of first-round draft picks recruited by BC in the previous couple of years, the most talented of BC’s recruits for next season is someone who is not even 18 years old. As a 2025 draft-eligible forward, Hagens excels in all facets of the game from skating to penalty killing to elite offense. As someone who looks to fill in for Cutter Gauthier on one of the top two center ice positions, the Eagles will look toward Hagens as a top point producer immediately starting next fall.

-Teddy Stiga (USNTDP)

As someone who was not as highly touted when he committed to BC, Teddy Stiga has made tremendous strides this season, having improved all facets of his game. Playing on Hagens’ left wing for the majority of this season, Stiga compliments Hagens’ game as another quick, two-way player who can really shoot the puck. As a 2024 draft-eligible skater, Stiga will most likely be picked by an NHL team in the first three rounds this summer.

-Will Skahan (USNTDP)

Committed to the University of Wisconsin as late as this November, Will Skahan flipped his commitment, joining BC along with two of his teammates from this season. Skahan is a big, lengthy stay-at-home defenseman who will undoubtedly fill in for Jacob Bengtsson as a mainstay on the Eagles’ blue line. Though Skahan’s defense and puck-moving are ready for the NCAA, his offensive game is something he will continue to develop at BC. Will Skahan is projected to be picked in the top two rounds at this year’s NHL draft.

-Jake Sondreal (Dubuque Fighting Saints)

After playing the first of his two NCAA-eligible seasons with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, Sondreal waited a little bit before committing to BC during the spring of 2023. Sondreal posted numbers good enough to land on the top ten list of scorers for this USHL season, but will probably take on a different role here at BC. Similar to Colby Ambrosio this season, the top two lines will be filled with more elite playmakers next season, so Sondreal will need to find his place on the third line to be effective for the Eagles.

-Brady Berard (Providence College)

After two seasons at Providence College, Brady Berard’s start to his college career did not start as well as he’d hoped. However, next season Berard will be given a fresh start at BC after missing half of last season’s game in Rhode Island. Berard is a guy who will slide into BC’s bottom six, demonstrating his best skills down low in the D-zone and on the backcheck.

-Michael Hagens (Chicago Steel)

Commiting at the same time as his brother James, Michael Hagens will arrive at BC next year with an extra year of experience at the USHL level under his belt. Though BC’s back end is already quite established, Hagens can act as a two-way facilitator, and support BC’s forwards with solid puck moving.

Remaining Question marks: What About the USA Line?

After the most productive season by a single college hockey line in recent memory, question marks inevitably manifest surrounding the future of these athletes with NHL teams being ready and waiting. As it stands, the current status of the former freshman line of BC skaters known as the “USA Line” is uncertain. Though all we can do is speculate on what will happen, here is what we know about their status as college athletes thus far:

-Gabe Perreault (NHL Rights: New York Rangers)

Even after missing a large portion of games with an upper-body injury this season, Gabe Perreault still collected a whopping 60 points on the season. However, after no effort from the New York Rangers to sign Perreault in time for the 2024 NHL playoffs, the implication is that Perreault will stay with BC next season, and continue to develop his 200-ft game and physical presence on the ice.

-Will Smith (NHL Rights: San Jose Sharks)

After scoring north of 70 points in a season joining the likes of Jack Eichel and Adam Fantili to do so in one season of college hockey, theoretically, Smith would join his predecessors and sign an NHL contract in the offseason. However, as a San Jose Sharks draft pick, the Sharks are currently the worst team in the NHL and have the best odds for the #1 draft selection for this year’s draft. With the Sharks inevitably continuing their rebuild into next season, it will give Smith a chance a second chance to develop his backchecking at the NCAA level next season.

-Ryan Leonard (NHL Rights: Washington Capitals)

Though Ryan Leonard turned down a chance to join the Capitals during this year’s NHL playoffs, Leonard could still choose to sign with Washington in the offseason. Though it’s unlikely, Leonard could change his mind just like Logan Cooley did last season when he signed with the team formerly known as the Arizona Coyotes.

Despite having clues about what BC’s roster will look like during the 2024-25 season, we really don’t know enough to make any cemented claims. The status on the USA line will trickle well into the summer, and the happenings of the NCAA transfer portal can change a team’s outlook in an instant. Though BC couldn’t accomplish their ultimate goal this year, they have re-cemented themselves as a force in college hockey and will continue to develop loads of NHL talent in the coming years.

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