They definitely beat us pretty good last year, and I think that's fresh in everyone's mind. - Bill Arnold on Union
PHILADELPHIA, PA — Last year, Bill Arnold, Johnny Gaudreau, and Boston College were pitted against Union in the NCAA regionals and the Eagles were considered the favourites in the one-and-done match-up.
After all, Boston College is recognized as a hockey power in the NCAA and head coach Jerry York is the winningest bench boss in college hockey history. Union didn't have that kind of prestige behind it.
As it turned out, Union doled out a 5-1 thumping, ending Boston College’s season.
“I mean, they definitely beat us pretty good last year, and I think that's fresh in everyone's mind,” Arnold stated after Boston College’s practice in Philadelphia on Wednesday. “But it's a new year. We've got a completely different team, and I think we're much better, and I think they've obviously made it farther this year than they did last year, so they're a better team.
“We're going to respect them as an opponent, but like we've been doing the last month here, we're focused on our game and what we have to do to win. We know it's made us successful throughout the year, so that's our main focus here.”
Union has made great strides over the last few years, particularly under head coach Rick Bennett, but despite their continued progression, Gaudreau admitted his team was caught off guard by the Dutchmen in 2013.
“Last year we got caught coming off a 2012 National Championship,” Gaudreau stated. “I think we didn't take our opponent seriously. I think we took them a little too lightly. I mean, last year in the 2012 season we had a great team and really had a great run at the end of the season. I think we should have went into the game a little more motivated or a little more focused.
“This year after that first loss against Union, I know a lot of the guys from our team last year didn't want to go through that again. So, all the guys are pretty motivated.”
Arnold, who was drafted by the Flames in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Draft, may have just a bit more motivation than some of his teammates. This is his senior year at Boston College and his last opportunity to capture a national championship.
The 21-year-old will move on to professional hockey when his collegiate career comes to a close but he hasn’t let thoughts of what lays ahead creep into his mind.
“I don't think anyone in our locker room is thinking about what's going to happen after this weekend. Everyone's focused on taking this day-by-day and getting better every day. I'm certainly in no rush for this week to be over. I loved my time at BC, and it would mean a lot to me to go out on a high note with a national championship. So, that's where all my focus is right now.”
One of the biggest keys for Boston College to skate away with their second NCAA Championship title in the past three years will be Arnold and Gaudreau’s line. They, along with Chicago prospect Kevin Hayes, have decimated opposition defence and goaltenders all season.
They’re the highest scoring line in college hockey this season but they also pride themselves in playing a 200-foot game. York preaches defensive responsibility and they take it very seriously.
“Obviously, as a line we like to score goals, but all three of us really embrace a two-way game,” Arnold explained. “Just talking about Johnny specifically, he's super offensive. He has over 70 points. But, whenever you ask him what he wants to work on, he's always saying improve on his defensive play, and he's really embraced that. So, as much as we like to score goals, we know if we get scored on, we have to put two in to be a positive for the team.
“It's a lot easier to keep them off the board and make sure we're helping our team by scoring goals every chance we get.”
Boston College faces off Union on Thursday. Watch CalgaryFlames.com for more coverage from the Frozen Four in Philadelphia.