Johnny Hockey: Will Skate for Skittles

Johnny Gaudreau is the first athlete, of any sport, I’ve followed from their collegiate career into the majors.  I was first introduced to his greatness when the Boston College Golden Eagles competed in the 2nd Annual Three Rivers Classic college tournament hosted by Robert Morris University.  I went into the tourney an RMU fan but ended as a fan of BC.  From the second they stepped on the ice, it was clear to see that they were on another level of talent and the team to beat.  They shutout Bowling Green in the first round and defeated Penn State 8-2 for the championship that year.  After seeing his gameplay throughout the two games, it was no surprise that Gaudreau took home the titles of tournament MVP and my favorite college hockey player.

Going back to the beginning, the Calgary Flames ran a story on Gaudreau this season speaking to how he got his start on the ice.  His father, Guy Gaudreau, was the hockey director at the local ice rink and encouraged Johnny to skate by using a line of skittles.  From there Gaudreau spent every moment he could on the ice, perfecting his skills, and most importantly to him at the time, his goal-scoring abilities.  Gaudreau has commented on his goal-scoring mentality saying, “As a kid, I was pretty shameless about it.  I’d spend entire games cherry-picking along the blue line, waiting for the puck to pop out so I could go for a breakaway.”  Anyone who has watched a youth ice hockey game knows the type of player who was the team cherry picker.  They also know that it was those players who went on to play elite hockey and continue their careers at the collegiate or Minors levels.

Johnny Gaudreau played for the Boston College Golden Eagles for three years after making the decision to hold off on transitioning to the NHL after his sophomore year to be able to play a year with his younger brother Matthew Gaudreau.  He will certainly never be forgotten by the BC Men’s Ice Hockey program or their fans any time soon.  I could write an entire article series on his nominations, awards, and titles Johnny held with BC.  To highlight a few of them, he was the Hockey East Player of the Year in both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, an AHCA First Team All-American in 2012-13 and 2013-14, Hockey East Tournament MVP in 2012, USA Hockey National College Player of the Year in 2014, and probably most impressive was Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner in 2014, after being a finalist in 2013.  In his Junior and final year with BC, Gaudreau tallied 80 points playing in all 40 games with a +42 and a 31-game point streak, leaving him with the third-most total points for a season in Boston College history.

During his sophomore year at BC, Johnny had the opportunity to represent Team USA at the 2013 World Juniors Championships in Russia.  Team USA went on to win the gold medal, and Gaudreau was named to the Media All-Star Team and one of the Top 3 U.S. Players.  He earned Player of the Game accolades for his game play during the 7-0 win against the Czech Republic, with the hattrick.

Gaudreau was given the name “Johnny Hockey” during his collegiate career and unlike another college athlete (*cough Johnny “Football” Manziel cough*) he has lived up to the title.  He was drafted in the 4th round (104 overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames, who may not have known it at the time that they drafted the future face of their franchise.  Being a small player, he has worked and proven himself to be an elite NHL player.  So far in his NHL career, he has put up 127 goals and 243 assists for 370 points in 376 games with a +27 and 108 of the points coming on the powerplay.  He’s on par for the current season to surpass his previous highest point total in a season at 84 points in 80 games from the 2017-18 season, as he currently sits at 82 points in 64 games thus far.  His young trophy collection holds the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded to Gaudreau for the 2016-17 season.  In his rookie season, he was also a finalist for the Calder Trophy.  He is also a 5-time NHL All-Star, deservingly so, helping the Flames to their first playoff appearance after a 6-year drought and now they sit in 1st place in the Western Conference and 2nd in the League.

Throughout his successful and fame-filled career, Johnny Gaudreau remains humble and grounded.  Growing up in New Jersey, he was a Philadelphia sports teams fan which is about the only negative thing I can find about him (#’BurghProud).  Family is clearly important to him as he put off his NHL career for a year to play at the collegiate level with his brother Matthew.  His dad always tries to make the Flames’ annual dad’s trip and you’re sure to see the Gaudreau family fan club in attendance whenever he’s in town playing the Devils or Flyers.  His dog, Bailey, is just as popular as he is in Calgary (see for yourself on her Instagram account @lil_bails13_).  Johnny ensures he gives back to the communities that support him through playing in charity games like the Comm Ave Classic between BC and BU alumni and riding in the Calgary Stampede parade.

While every NHL Star has their haters, Johnny Gaudreau is harder to hate than most.  Despite his size, he plays a big game, making up for his lack of height in heart and maybe one day Hart???  Over the years I’ve become a bigger fan of individual players rather than teams with Johnny Gaudreau always being in my top ten (he currently sits in #2 among active NHL players and #1 for forwards).  This article is pretty much one big THANK YOU to Johnny for introducing me to the BC Eagles and Calgary Flames.  It’s been an honor following his young career thus far and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next.

Thanks for reading JMSO fans!  Don’t forget to share your opinions, leave questions, comments, topic suggestions, and feedback in the comments/replies/DMs.  Keep it classy!

-A. Kam

 

Check out https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/johnny-gaudreau-hockey-calgary-flames for a great read with a lot more personal input and background on Johnny Gaudreau!

Other sources used:

https://bceagles.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=2165

https://www.nhl.com/player/johnny-gaudreau-8476346

https://teamusa.usahockey.com/worldjuniors2013

NHL Countdown: Meet My Teams & Players

Teams:

Pittsburgh Penguins

I grew up a Penguins fan but didn’t start to seriously follow them until I was around 13 years old.  Since then they have won 3 Stanley Cups, made many playoff runs, and drafted/traded for some big names, a few that are still in Pittsburgh.  No matter what happens, I will die a Penguins fan (unless they ever hire John Tortorella as a coach then I’m jumping ship and losing all respect for the organization).

Calgary Flames

I didn’t start following the Calgary Flames until Johnny Gaudreau joined them after his time at Boston College.  It also worked in their favor that they had Deryk Engelland at the time.  Since then, the organization has grown on me and I have liked the majority of their players, trades, and acquisitions.  My favorite that occurred over this past summer was trade that brought Noah Hanifin to Calgary.

Carolina Hurricanes

Jordan Staal being a Pittsburgh Penguins was ultimately what starting my being a fan of the Canes.  Through Jordan, I started to follow Eric and in turn the Hurricanes.  Jeff Skinner kept me a fan of the Hurricanes along with Jordan being traded to them for Sutter and the youngest Staal, Jared, playing for their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.  I have not been a fan of their trades recently as I don’t believe they are smart moves for the organization.  I would hate to be Sebastien Aho, playing on a team with high expectations for you that isn’t trying to put together a winning team around you.

Boston College Golden Eagles

While not an NHL team, the BC Eagles are why I’m a fan of many NHL players.  I started following BC when they played in Robert Morris University’s 1st annual Three Rivers Classic.  Johnny Gaudreau, Patrick Brown, and Kevin Hayes impressed me with their on-ice presence and skill and I’ve been following them and the Eagles ever since.

 

Players:

Olli Maatta:  He is the epitome of Finland’s development program, has overcome so much in his young career, and continues to improve his game.

Jordan Staal:  J. Staal was an easy Penguin to like.  He was always a dependable third-line center that produced and could kill a penalty.

Sergei Gonchar:  Gonchar was my very first “favorite player” and Penguin.  I don’t know why I initially started to like him but his well-rounded game play is why I continued to follow him even after he left the ‘Burgh.  He wasn’t gone for too long though and very few people were happier than I was to see him hired on as a defensive coach.

Johnny (Hockey) Gaudreau:  Johnny Hockey loves the game and plays it well.  His work ethic is what made me notice him at the Three Rivers Classic.  He was all over the ice while still complementing his teammates and setting them up for opportunities.  Despite his accomplishments and phenomenal collegiate turned NHL career, he remains humble.

Marc Andre Fleury:  I have never, nor will ever, understand how any fan of hockey can hate on Fleury.  The guy is a magician on the ice, a trickster with his teammates, and the ultimate family man.  I will forever be thankful for all Fleury and his family have for the city of Pittsburgh both on and off the ice.

Beau Bennett:  Beau Bennett had such promise, but his injuries definitely had a significant impact on his career.  I liked his game play with the Penguins, now I admire how he has acclimated to his changed career path and his sense of humor/personality through it all.

Noah Hanifin:  Hanifin is a BC alum and an up-and-coming defenseman in the league.  I enjoyed watching him on the ice for BC and the Canes and I can’t wait to see what he will bring to Calgary this year.

Conor Sheary:  aka Lil’ Conor worked hard every second he was on the ice and rarely lost a battle in the corner boards despite being quite smaller than some of his opponents.  I’ll miss seeing #43 in a Penguins jersey.

Honorable Mentions: Jeff Skinner, Matt Cooke, Deryk Engelland, Brian Gibbons, Matt Niskanen as a Penguin, Jayson Megna, Cam Atkinson, Eric Staal, Brandon Sutter, William Nylander, Kevin Hayes, Bobby Farnham, Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Alex Tuch.

 

Comm Ave Charity Classic: BC, ‘Cause I Wouldn’t Wanna BU

Boston University hosted the 4th Annual Comm Ave Charity Classic on Friday, August 24th 2018 in the Walter Brown Arena.  The Charity Classic was setup by Boston College Alumni Pat Mullane and Andrew Orpik where they invite fellow alumni now playing in the NHL/AHL to compete for a great cause.  “Current and former NHL players face off in this BC vs BU alumni hockey game in honor of Pete Frates, Dick Kelley, Travis Roy, and all those who have been affected by ALS and spinal cord injuries. All proceeds benefit Compassionate Care ALS, Pete Frates Home Health Initiative, and the Travis Roy Foundation. The game has raised over $180,000 since its inception in 2015.”  This year’s Classic set a record raising $78,432 to be added to the sum of past years.

Outside the Walter Brown before the event, the players had to walk from the parking garage across the street to enter the arena where swarms of children and fans waited to greet them.  The players all stopped to get pictures and sign shirts, programs, and other memorabilia while still carrying their bags, gear, and sticks.  And since it was at an intersection, we all got to see a lot of children almost get hit by cars.  A grown man also stopped one of the players in the middle of the street to sign his program while cars were trying to drive through the intersection.  Like it’s cool, he wanted his autograph and everything I get that but let’s not put his health and career at risk by getting him hit by a car on his way to a charity game, okay?

At the beginning of the game itself, Travis Roy spoke, welcoming and thanking everyone for their attendance and support.  He kept his speech short and sweet as he was ready to watch some quality hockey.  Also going on was a silent auction and basket raffle of autographed memorabilia of the present alumni and ticket packages for each school.  Additionally, they sold Comm Ave Charity Classic t-shirts and I was super happy to see they were donated (I assume, they were donated with it being a charity event and all) by ’47 brand as their shirts are suuuuuper soft and durable.

Being a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, it was fun to watch all the new, current, and former Penguins compete with and against each other as they were well represented.  Nick Bonino played for Boston University while Brooks Orpik, Brian Dumoulin, Brian Gibbons, Jimmy Hayes, and Philip Samuelsson participated as Golden Eagles.  Being one of the newest Penguins, Jimmy Hayes had a lot of pressure placed on him (mainly by myself) and he held his own out on the ice.  Although, little brother Kevin put on a better show.

The outcome of the game could’ve been better but Boston University topped Boston College 10-5.  However, Boston University couldn’t field a full roster with just their committed alumni for this year’s Classic so they invited NHL players Jimmy Vesey, Ryan Donato, and Adam Gaudette to play for them.  It was a good thing they did as the three put up five of BU’s goals.  So technically, BU’s alumni only scored five goals which means that they did not beat BC but tied them 5-BU, 5-BC, 5-Harvard/Northeastern.

Overall, this was a really great experience and the trip from Pittsburgh, PA for the game was definitely worth it.  I highly recommend that everyone attend a type of charity game like this one!

 

 

2018 ROSTERS

Boston College

Joe Pearce / G / 2007 / Boston College

Mike Mottau / D / 2000 / Florida Panthers

Ian McCoshen / D / 2017 / Florida Panthers

Noah Hanifin / D / 2018 / Calgary Flames

Mike Matheson / D / 2016 / Florida Panthers

Brian Dumoulin / D / 2013 / Pittsburgh Penguins

Jimmy Hayes / F / 2012 / Pittsburgh Penguins

Brian Boyle / F / 2007 / New Jersey Devils

Kevin Hayes / F / 2014 / New York Rangers

Stephen Gionta / F / 2006 / New York Islanders

Brian Gibbons / F / 2011 / Anaheim Ducks

Colin White / F / 2019 / Ottawa Senators

Chris Kreider / F / 2013 / New York Rangers

Paul Carey / F / 2012 / Ottawa Senators

Patrick Brown / F / 2014 / Carolina Hurricanes

Zach Sanford / F / 2018 / St. Louis Blues

Philip Samuelsson / D / 2013 / Charlotte Checkers

Chris Venti / G / 2012 / Boston College

Ryan Fitzgerald / F / 2017 / Boston Bruins

Nathan Gerbe / F / 2009 / Columbus Blue Jackets

Brooks Orpik / D / 2002 / Washington Capitals

Boston University

Charlie Coyle / F / 2014 / Minnesota Wild

Brandon Hickey / D / 2018 / Buffalo Sabres

Matt Grzelcyk / D / 2016 / Boston Bruins

Kevin Schaeffer / D / 2007 / Providence Bruins – Retired

Brian Strait / D / 2009 / New Jersey Devils

Adam Gaudette / F / Northeastern 2019 / Vancouver Canucks

Clayton Keller / F / 2021 / Arizona Coyotes

Danny O’Regan / F / 2016 / Buffalo Sabres

Nick Bonino / F / 2011 / Nashville Predators

Jack Eichel / F / 2019 / Buffalo Sabres

Ryan Donato / F / Harvard 2019 / Boston Bruins

Drew Melanson / F / 2018 / New York Rangers

Jimmy Vesey / F / Harvard 2016 / New York Rangers

Jay Pandolfo / F / 1996 / Boston Bruins

John McCarthy / F / 2009 / San Jose Sharks

Evan Rodrigues / F / 2015 / Buffalo Sabres

Charlie McAvoy / D / 2019 / Boston Bruins

Mike Condon / G / Ottawa Senators

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://commaveclassic.com/

https://twitter.com/CommAveClassic

Flames on Fire

The Calgary Flames have been putting in the work this off-season and it just might pay off.  Over the last few seasons the Flames have been “that close” to a phenomenal team that can compete in the post season.   They’ve struggled to maintain an offensive force and were in need of consistent defensemen in front of their netminders.  With the additions of Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm from the Carolina Huricanes and some veterans in the league, they have taken a major step in filling the holes throughout the lineup.

Noah Hanifin was drafted in 2015 by the Hurricanes after completing only one season at Boston College under the best coach in collegiate ice hockey, Jerry York.  At BC he played in 37 of 38 games with 5 goals, 18 assists, and a +12 rating.  The Golden Eagles finished second in the Hockey East that year.  Following his collegiate success, Hanifin was the only defensemen in his draft class to start the season that same year in the NHL.  This past season was, offensively, his best yet with 10 goals and 22 assists.  He definitely needs to improve on his +/- rating this year with Calgary in order to make a difference.  However, giving him the benefit of the doubt as I did with Skinner in a prior post, the entire Hurricanes lineup struggles to keep the puck out of the net and Hanifin’s rating at least shows he received a lot of ice time.

Elias Lindholm has 188 points in 374 career games.  He’s a young, strong center with a lot of potential.  It might have been a risky move for the Flames to sign him to such a big deal, but I believe it will pay off for them.  The other big addition the Flames have made this summer is signing James Neal.  The Hurricanes are the fifth organization he will be a part of in the league.  Neal is a dependent, passionate winger with a lot of playoff experience.  He just might be the perfect line mate for Lindholm or is he going to be the third with Monahan and Gaudreau?

A re-signing that the Flames hope will pay off for them in the long run is their goaltender Mike Smith.  He won 25 of his 55 starts this past season with a .916 save percentage.  Goaltending has been an issue for the Flames over the last few years, hopefully Smith can change that this upcoming season.

 

References:

https://www.nhl.com/player/noah-hanifin-8478396

https://www.nhl.com/player/elias-lindholm-8477496

https://www.nhl.com/player/james-neal-8471707

https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/s/smithmi01.html