As a boy growing up in Carneys Point, N.J., a town of just more than 8,000 people, a 30-minute drive from Philadelphia, Boston College junior forward Johnny Gaudreau couldn’t help growing up a Flyers fan.
“Living so close, I was a Flyers fan and really liked watching guys like John LeClair, Keith Primeau and Jeremy Roenick,” Gaudreau said.It just so happens that the Flyers’ home, the Wells Fargo Center, will be the site of this year’s Frozen Four.
“Making the Frozen Four, with it being so close to my hometown, would make it extra special,” Gaudreau said. “I would definitely have a ton of friends and family who would come. Our team is such a great group of guys so it would mean a lot for us to get there with this team, as well.”
Gaudreau is certainly doing his part to make sure the Eagles get there. He has led the team to the nation’s No. 1 rankings en route to a 24-4-3 record, which includes the Beanpot championship and the regular-season Hockey East crown. Also, Boston College is in the midst of a 17-game unbeaten streak which features only one tie.
Individually, the Hobey Baker favorite for national player of the year leads the nation in points (61), goals (27), assists (34), points per game (1.97) and goals per game (0.87). Also, he has scored at least one point in 26 consecutive games. In fact, he has not registered a point in only one game all season -- Oct. 27 at Minnesota.
“I feel pretty confident in saying that Johnny Gaudreau is one of the best college hockey players to have played the game,” said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon, who is in his 21st year in the coaching profession. “Despite his size and attention he receives from opposing players, he always finds a way to make the right play, and often a great play. I've coached against him, and watched him closely during the NCAA tournaments [as a committee member]. He doesn't make mistakes with the puck. His hockey IQ is off the charts compared to most. Speed, vision, skill, and a high compete level in a smaller frame makes him very unique.”
Perhaps even more impressive than Gaudreau’s individual stats are the stats of his line, which includes Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes. Since joining forces on Dec. 6, Boston College has not lost a game. They have combined for 38 goals and 53 assists and a +70 plus/minus rating. In addition, they have all scored at least one point in 15 of their past 17 outings. Hayes is second in the nation in scoring (1.61), while Arnold is fourth (1.42). Most impressively is the fact that since being put together, the line has outscored all of its opponents combined, 38-31.
“We are really good friends off the ice and I think that helps,” Gaudreau said. “On the ice we communicate so well and really feed off each other. Kevin and Bill are both tremendous players both offensively and defensively. They make it really easy for me. With linemates like I have, it has gotten to the point where it’s hard not to get on the scoresheet.”
Even before joining his current line, scoring has never been an issue for Gaudreau, including last year as a member of United States National Junior Team at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships at Ufa Arena in Ufa, Russia, in which he helped lead the team to a gold medal. He was named one of Team USA's top three players of the tournament and was voted to the media all-star team after he finished the tournament as its leading goal scorer (seven) and tied for fifth in points (nine).
“It was an awesome experience, even though I am not a big fan of flying so going all the way to Russia was tough,” Gaudreau said. “The team was a very close group who got along both on and off the ice. We just had such great chemistry. Playing in the tournament and winning the gold medal is definitely one of the most special experiences I have had in hockey.”
A fourth-round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2011 NHL draft, Gaudreau, a communications major, briefly thought about turning pro after his sophomore season.
“I really only thought about it a little bit,” Gaudreau said. “With my younger brother [Matthew] coming in, I really wanted a chance to play with him. I also talked to some guys who left early to go to the pros and getting a degree is really important to me so I knew coming back this year would put me that much closer to accomplishing that.”
With the way things have been going for Boston College, he has had no second thoughts.
“We have definitely had a solid year,” Gaudreau said. “We just need to keep it going. Hopefully, we can keep winning and get to Philadelphia and turn it into an incredible season.”
Crossing the blue line
• The 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award have been announced with the winner being announced at the Frozen Four in April. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence -- community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The finalists include: Sam Brittain, Denver; Cole Ikkala, Union (N.Y.); Greg Carey, St. Lawrence; Andy Iles, Cornell; Scott Czarnowczan, Ferris State; Dennis Robertson, Brown; Kyle Gibbons, Canisius; Ryan Walters, Nebraska-Omaha; Brock Higgs, Rensselaer; and Matt Zarbo, Clarkson.
Lately, Michigan State has shown an affinity for tie games. Four of the past six games the Spartans have played in have finished in a tie. In fact, all four of them finished tied at 2. They have gone to a shootout six times this season, with no other team in the Big Ten going to a shootout in conference play more than three times.
Alaska-Anchorage's Jordan Kwas and Matt Bailey -- each entering the weekend at Ferris State with a five-game point streak -- are currently tied with 85 career points, leading all current Seawolves and ranking No. 32 on the UAA all-time point list. Kwas is tied for the team lead in assists with 16 and is second among UAA skaters with 27 points, topping his career-high 24 from 2010-11. Bailey leads UAA with 29 points and leads all current UAA skaters with 42 career goals, good for No. 25 on the UAA all-time list. He has registered 19 points in the past 18 games.
Minding the net
St. Cloud State and Colorado College are the only two teams to not have allowed a short-handed goal this season. … Merrimack junior defenseman Dan Kolomatis and Boston University junior forward Cason Hohmann will both be playing their 100th game this weekend. … Providence and Massachusetts play this weekend with the Friars 5-1-3 against UMass since the start of the 2010-11 season, but only outscoring the Minutemen 31-28 in those nine games. … Since being put together on a line on Jan. 11 (10 games), the trio of Jeff Carroll, Justin Danforth and Jordan Minello has 14 goals and 21 assists for Sacred Heart. … Canisius senior goaltender Tony Capobiano needs one more shutout to set the school career record of seven. … Colgate is 4-1-2 against top-20 teams in 2014. … Alabama-Huntsville has only scored on 7.7 percent of its power-play opportunities this season. … Ohio State has had two unbeaten streaks of at least five games this season. … Colorado College and Denver will face off for the Gold Pan this weekend with the Tigers needing two wins to claim the Pan. … Michigan Tech has scored at least one power-play goal in six consecutive games. … New Hampshire leads the nation with only 7.4 penalty minutes per game.