Quality, Not Quantity

Feb. 6, 2006

By Elliot Olshansky




Elliot is CSTV.com's hockey editor and runs his Rink Rat hockey blog on CSTV.com.
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BOSTON - With an average age of 20 years and 140 days, Boston College is the youngest Division I hockey team in the country.  Of the 20 players in uniform for the Eagles' Beanpot opener against Northeastern on Monday, three were seniors, two were juniors, and four of the six defensemen were freshmen playing in their first ever Beanpot.


However, as young as the Eagles are, on Monday, they had all the experience they needed.


Each of BC's three seniors - Peter Harrold, Chris Collins and Stephen Gionta - scored for the Eagles on Monday, and when it was all said and done, the Class of 2006 had accounted for four of the five BC goals in a 5-2 win over the Huskies.


"We've got a senior class that's second to none," said BC head coach Jerry York. "Not, maybe, in quantity, but Peter Harrold, Stephen Gionta and Chris Collins have been a really significant factor in any success we've had this year.  When you've got that group of young players, you really need something from the top class."


The Eagles certainly got "something," and it started with Harrold, the captain from Kirtland Hills, Ohio, who streaked in along the wall, headed for the net, and put a backhand shot through the five-hole of Northeastern netminder Doug Jewer, a goal that got the attention of classmate Stephen Gionta.


"I think it was huge," Gionta said of the seniors' performance, "especially our captain, Peter Harrold, leading off, and just his leadership is unbelievable, coming out on the big stage, and we're trying to show the younger guys: play for the win.  Don't sit back.  We have to go after it, and I think we did that today as a whole team."


Gionta came up big in his own right.  With BC leading 3-1 in the third period, Gionta redirected a shot from the point by Brett Motherwell for a power-play tally that gave the Eagles a three-goal lead, which would prove insurmountable. 


It was Collins, however, who shined most brightly for the Eagles.  Collins, who had not scored in six prior Beanpot appearances, scored twice against the Huskies, including his NCAA-best fifth shorthanded tally of the season. 


"Chris Collins continued to play exceptionally well." York said. "What a senior year he's having. Everything is going his way, but it's because of a lot of hard work. "


The Fairport, N.Y., native's pair of goals after being held scoreless in his past three years of Beanpot play is, in some ways, a microcosm of his BC career.  In a year when Patrick Eaves' decision to sign a professional contract with the Ottawa Senators seemed to have left the Eagles without a single go-to player, Collins has come out of nowhere to fill the void and then some, leading the nation in goals per game. 

"He's always been a good penalty killer," York said.  "That's been the strength of his game.  He blocks shots, he anticipates.  The offense has never really gone along with it.  That's been the biggest surprise we've had this year. He's been a staple of our penalty-killing unit since his freshman year - he's kind of a grinder-type kid - but now, he's got a little more poise with the puck, and he's got more playmaking ability than I've seen over the first three years.  That's a pretty good package."


The issue at hand is that Collins, Gionta and Harrold will return to the TD Banknorth Garden next Monday, looking to close out their Beanpot careers with a championship, their second in four years.  Even for the normally calm Collins, the specter of his final Beanpot shone brightly in his mind.


"I'm not the kind of guy who gets too nervous before games," Collins said, "but I was really feeling the excitement today.  Sitting in class today, I couldn't stop moving.


"I come from Rochester, and I really didn't know too much about [the Beanpot], but the last three years have really shown me how much hard work it takes to get there."


Led by the hard work of their three-man senior class, the Eagles will look to "get there" for the second time in three years next Monday night.



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