In the 16th meeting of the Boston University Men’s Hockey summer Roundtable, Coach Albie O’Connell answered questions and led a discussion about the 2020-21 season. Here are the five most important points mentioned. All opinions are my own
- Rising sophomores will be relied on to elevate team
Last year’s freshman class was one of the largest in BU Hockey history. With a total of 13, the team needed some time to mesh and learn how to share the ice. With the exception of Trevor Zegras, all of the players are returning for their second season. O’Connell also mentioned players like Jake Wise and Jack DeBoer, who missed large chunks of time at different points in their first two seasons, in addition to the rising sophomore class, and how their jumps this upcoming year will play a large part in the success of the team. “We’ve got 16 guys who could really make a big jump and that’s going to be the lifeblood of the team– how good those guys could get,” O’Connell said.
- The extended offseason has allowed all injured players to recover
While those players are expected to make a jump as a result of experience, O’Connell also touched on the health of his team. Ty Amonte, for example, redshirted his junior season after not being able to play in any games in 2019-20. Along with Amonte, O’Connell mentioned Jamie Armstrong and Matthew Quercia, who both missed large chunks of the season due to injury. “I think the summer lended to give us a bit of time to rehab with [Amonte], Armstrong, Quercia, and even with Logan [Cockerill] who had a tough injury last year. I think it’s about as healthy of a group as we’ve had,” O’Connell said.
- How the team will handle COVID protocols
In regard to COVID-19, O’Connell talked about a need for discipline with the team. While the players already have scheduled study hall hours, practices, and workouts, they now will need to fill out daily health screenings, get tested multiple times a week, and be conscious socially. O’Connell feels “pretty good about this group because they’re pretty responsible. This year was the best academic year that [they’ve] had at the program, and a lot of that has to do with the type of kids there.”
- O’Connell thinks a late-starting season could help in their development
Hockey East has not decided on an official start date for the season. While it normally starts in early October, O’Connell is grateful that his team will have “a little more time to prepare and get acclimated to what [they’re] trying to do as a group.” With a later start date, the team has more time for some “definitely needed development.” The team will start practicing on Sept. 7 in Walter Brown Arena, as Agganis Arena is being used as a testing site. Despite rumors of the league not starting until Jan. 8, O’Connell announced that that is “not true at all” and that “putting an actual [start] date at this particular second would be a little bit unrealistic.”
- Protocols for traveling, fans are yet to be determined
Since there’s no start date yet, there’s also no update on travel. Although most of the Hockey East teams are only a drive away, there is still a lot to decide in regard to maintaining protocols throughout each university so that everyone feels comfortable with people coming in and out of buildings. With travel comes the question of fans, which is also yet to be announced. According to Associate Athletic Director Brian Kelley, “Everything is still based on the state of the university once everyone comes back. We have to see how things go the first few weeks and then make a decision from there.”
Even with the uncertainty, O’Connell announced that “the goal from the league, the athletic directors, and our president, is to play.” As students return to campus and players begin to practice, O’Connell seems optimistic about the future state of the Terriers:
“If you look around the league and see what teams have and what teams lost, I think we’re in a really good spot. I like our chances, and I think we’re gonna be a top team.”