By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff
1) Boston College
2009-10 record: 29-10-3 (16-8-3 HE)
Finish in HE: 2nd (won tournament championship)
Key returners: Jr. F Cam Atkinson (30-23-53), Sr. F Brian Gibbons (16-34-50), Sr. F Joe Whitney (17-28-45), Jr. F Jimmy Hayes (13-22-35), So. F Pat Mullane (8-20-28), So. F Steven Whitney (7-21-28), So. F Chris Kreider (15-8-23), So. D Brian Dumoulin (1-21-22), Sr. G John Muse (2.40, .910), So. G Parker Milner (2.32, .909)
Key losses: F Ben Smith (16-21-37), D Carl Sneep (11-17-28), F Matt Price (5-11-16), F Matt Lombardi (7-7-14)
Notable freshmen: F Kevin Hayes, F Bill Arnold, D Isaac MacLeod
Coach: Jerry York
How they finished
The Eagles went 9-2-1 to close out the regular season and only got hotter once the postseason started. They won four straight against Massachusetts (2x), Vermont and Maine to claim their fourth Hockey East title in the last six years and then knocked off Alaska and Yale to reach the Frozen Four. BC made it look easy on the biggest stage, beating Miami and Wisconsin by a combined score of 12-1 to win its second national championship in the last three seasons.
BC returns eight of its top nine forwards and 77.2 percent of its goals from last year’s top-ranked offense. Most noteworthy among the returners is Cam Atkinson, who had three hat tricks in the team’s final 12 games and led the country with 30 goals on the season. A typical strong freshman class, headlined by first-round NHL pick Kevin Hayes, should have no problem replacing what little production the Eagles did lose. The only question on Chestnut Hill is whether or not last year’s leadership can be replaced. Ben Smith, Matt Price and Matt Lombardi formed one of the best captaincies you’ll see in college hockey, and if BC and BU have proven anything the last two seasons, it’s that the post-championship hangover is real and you need strong leadership to avoid it.
Defense and goaltending
The Eagles also bring back five of their top six defensemen and both goalies who saw regular playing time after ranking second in team defense last year. The leader of the defensive corps is Brian Dumoulin, a second-round pick who led the nation in plus/minus last year as a freshman with a plus-40 rating. Fellow NHL picks Philip Samuelsson (second round), Tommy Cross (second round), Patrick Wey (fourth round) and rookie Isaac MacLeod (fifth round) add to what should be, at least on paper, the best defensive unit in the league. Combine that with what should be (again, at least on paper) one of the top two offenses (along with Maine) and it would appear that a post-championship hangover is the only thing that could possibly derail the Eagles.
1) Boston College
3) New Hampshire
4) Boston University