Year after year, Boston College produces plenty of NHL talent.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have two former Eagles in defensemen Brooks Orpik and Rob Scuderi.
Carl Sneep hopes to join them on the blue line one day.
“Of course, that’s what I am here for – to try to get to the NHL,” he said.
Sneep, Pittsburgh’s 2006 second-round pick (32nd overall), is enjoying his freshman campaign at Boston College.
“I’m definitely having a good experience here,” he said. “I am very happy with my decision to go to Boston College. This season, the team is having some ups and downs, but I feel like I have improved a lot since I have been here. I have had a good amount of ice time, playing every game in all situations, so I feel like I have improved a lot.
“Personally, my goals are concentrating a lot on getting better, especially in the defensive zone,” he continued. “I have been getting a lot of ice time. One of my personal goals is making the Hockey East All-Rookie team. If I pick my game up a little bit, hopefully I can do that. We’ll see.”
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Sneep ranks third among BC defensemen in scoring with seven points (1+6). He says he feels comfortable playing in both the offensive and defensive zones.
“I feel like I can play both styles,” he said. “I can be out there in any situation – penalty kill, power play, even strength. I can be solid in the defensive zone and, if it’s the right situation, I can jump up and join the rush and create some offense.”
Sneep is a product of Brainerd High School in Minnesota, where he earned Associated Press and Pioneer Press All-State first-team recognition in hockey. And, he was one of 10 finalists for Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award, recognized as the state’s top high school senior.
He is an all-around athlete, too, having excelled in football and baseball at Brainerd. A tight end/linebacker, he was the football team’s MVP in 2005 and a conference all-star. He was a two-time conference all-star on the baseball diamond as well.
“In high school, I just enjoyed playing those sports. I did them for fun during the hockey offseason to keep in shape,” he said. “I enjoyed them and I kind of miss them, but I realize hockey is where my future is. It was a good, fun experience in high school and now I am concentrating on hockey.”
Still, the experienced gained in those sports benefit his hockey career.
“I definitely agree, especially being in pressure situations in all sports,” he said. “They all carry over to one another.”
Sneep joined the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League once his high school season was finished. He had six points (1+5) in 22 games for the Stars.
He was thrilled when the Penguins called his name on draft day.
“I was very excited because I know it’s the team with probably the best young talent in the game, so a couple years down the road, they should be a Stanley Cup contender,” he said. “It’s very exciting for me.”
Sneep joins former high school teammate Chris Peluso, a 2004 seventh-round pick, in the Penguins organization. The two played together at Brainerd one season. Peluso, a Bemidji State freshman defenseman, is one year older than the 19-year-old Seeep.
“I remember playing with him a lot – we were defensive partners. I learned a lot from him. He’s a good buddy of mine and I still keep in touch with him,” Sneep said. “It really is a cool thing we were drafted by the same team. Hopefully, we can be defensive partners again some day.”
Sneep has another connection to the Penguins. His teammate at Boston College is Andrew Orpik, the younger brother of the Penguins defenseman.
“We’ve been on the same power play lately,” Sneep said. “He’s a good guy.”
Sneep hopes the Eagles (14-9-1) can make some noise in the postseason. One of the team’s assistant coaches is Greg Brown, who played for the Penguins in the 1993-94 season.
“We have to get on a little streak here and get some home ice for the playoffs and try to make a run for the NCAA tournament,” he said. “Coach [Jerry] York is known as one of the best college hockey coaches and the other coaches are great, too. The program has a lot of pride about the way they play hockey. We’re trying to work real hard to get ahead in the standings.
“It’s a lot faster-paced game than where I was last year at this time. It’s a big difference, but I feel like I am adjusting well. At this high of a level, you have to show up every night or the other team is going to beat you no matter who they are.”