Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau is more than a little excited about this season. Even though the team is just 1-1 heading into Friday night’s game against Wisconsin at Kelley Rink, he said there is a lot of reason for optimism.
After a loss at Michigan, the Eagles turned around and throttled Rensselaer by a 7-2 score.
“I was proud how we turned the team around for the second game,’’ said Gaudreau. “It was a big difference.
“[The opener] was just trying to get settled in and the younger guys getting their first game under their belts. We’re a young team but we’re really talented.’’
Gaudreau, who had 1 goal and 3 assists in the first two contests, heads into Friday 1 point from reaching 100 for his career, with 43 goals and 56 assists in just 81 games.
He said there will be a bit of a learning curve for the Eagles this year, with a large group of newcomers, but he believes they are all quick studies.
“You definitely learn more from things that don’t go right,’’ said Gaudreau. “Just from last season, and how we won only one trophy — the Beanpot — and then my freshmen year, we won a whole bunch of trophies. It was just a comparison and you could tell how different the seasons were.
“A bunch of us guys want to have the kind of year we did when we were freshmen.’’
There is good leadership on the Eagles, as there is every season, and that helps the team grow together quickly.
“We have a great senior class and a lot of really talented players and a lot of great leaders,’’ said Gaudreau. “They’ve really stepped up and helped out the freshmen.’’
One of the returnees, sophomore defenseman Michael Matheson, promises to have an even bigger impact behind the blue line than he did during his impressive rookie year.
“He’s a great player,’’ said Gaudreau. “You could tell as soon as he came in last year, he was going to be a talented player for us. We have a lot of young defensemen this year and he’s doing a great job so far with the young guys we have.
“Even though he’s a sophomore, he’s a pretty big leader for our team this year. He’s stepped up and is helping out a lot. He’s getting better every single game and it’s good to see that from him.’’
Gaudreau likes the fact that Hockey East has changed its schedule from 27 league games to just 20. That opens up spots to play more nonconference opponents.
“I think it’s exciting,’’ said Gaudreau, who was BC’s leading scorer last season with 51 points in 35 games. “I would definitely rather be playing these top five and top 10 teams in the country every single night. It’s just making our team a lot better playing teams like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan.
“I’m pretty excited with our schedule right now. It was a tough loss to Michigan, but every game, we’re getting better and better because we’re playing against such talented teams.’’
And playing Hockey East teams less frequently doesn’t diminish the rivalries, according to Gaudreau.
“I think it’s a lot cooler,’’ he said. “We see a lot of own conference teams all year. It’s pretty cool to play against teams you normally wouldn’t play against until the NCAA tournament, so I think it’s a fun schedule so far.’’
The seventh-ranked Eagles and their fans will be celebrating Jerry York Night Friday when No. 2 Wisconsin comes to town for a nonconference matchup. The meeting marks the teams’ first since the 2010 NCAA championship game, in which BC came out on top, 5-0, at Ford Field in Detroit. That was the Eagles’ second title of three during a five-year span . . . Providence goaltender Jon Gillies, who was such a key part of the Friars last year as a freshman, has picked up right where he left off. In the season’s first weekend, he stopped 63 of 64 shots in back-to-back victories over Minnesota State, which was ranked No. 11 . . . Northeastern swept Alabama-Huntsville last weekend and faces Holy Cross in a home-and-home series beginning Friday. It’s the first meeting between the teams since 2010. A win Friday would give the Huskies a 3-0-0 start for the first time since the 1993-94 season and would mark their first win over the Crusaders since Dec. 30, 2006.
A lot of HeartSacred Heart has already matched its 2012-13 win total with a 2-1-0 start. One of the victories was over preseason No. 1 UMass-Lowell. The Pioneers, who have 11 freshmen on the roster, will take on Rensselaer Saturday night . . . The No. 9 River Hawks face No. 14 Quinnipiac in a home-and-home series this weekend. Both teams were in Pittsburgh at the Frozen Four in April. UMass-Lowell bowed to eventual champion Yale in the semifinals and No. 1 seed Quinnipiac lost to the Bulldogs in the championship game.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.