Prospect check: Gaudreau mania hits Boston College
Fans are wearing T-shirts in his honour as Calgary prospect has 19 points in 11 games
They’re bright yellow. His name is on them. So he doesn’t even pretend to be unaware.
“Pretty funny,” says Gaudreau, with a chuckle. “It’s extremely cool, watching people wear T-shirts of you. I mean, it doesn’t happen every single day. I’m taking it all in. It’s something special. I’m excited that they’re so involved with the hockey team.”
Emblazoned on the front of the aforementioned shirts is GAUDREAUBEY BAKER. Which, as a catchphrase, may be a bit of a stretch, but this wee kid’s place in the Hobey Baker Award conversation is certainly not.
The trophy goes annually to the finest player in U.S. collegiate hockey.
And here is Gaudreau — the top scorer on the top program in the country, the defending national champion Boston College Eagles.
Bagging the Baker, though, won’t be easy.
Gaudreau, 19, is in only his second campaign and, typically, nods go to junior and senior players. Since Paul Kariya prevailed as a freshman in 1992, only two sophomores have claimed the award.
“Yeah, I hear people talking about it,” says Gaudreau, a 2011 fourth-round pick of the Calgary Flames. “It’s an honour that my name is even in that mix of guys. It’s exciting to have that experience and, hopefully, I’ll have a chance to prove to myself that I can win it some time.”
These days the shifty left-winger is doing a splendid job of ignoring the sophomore slump. After his brilliant freshman year — 44 points in 44 games — Gaudreau has actually jacked his rate of production.
In 11 dates, he has recorded a team-high 19 points, including the five-spot he hung Saturday on Dartmouth.
“Not too big of a deal,” the five-foot-eight, 153-pounder says of the offensive outburst. “The big deal is us winning another game, 10 straight so far.”
The opponent had been less modest.
“Obviously, Gaudreau is just a phenomenal player,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet told the Boston Globe. “He reminds you of Paul Kariya a little bit when he was in college. Obviously, there are other (BC) guys, but he’s a difference-maker.”
Gaudreau cannot remember the last time he churned out five points.
During his single winter in the USHL — as the circuit’s top rookie with the Dubuque Fighting Saints — he never generated anything like that. Prodded for a point-spree memory from his minor-hockey days, he hems and haws.
His modesty, it seems, is genuine.
“I nudged him after the game and said, ‘Was that a five-point game out of you?’ And he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Pat Mullane, BC captain and first-line centre, told the Globe. “I don’t think that was the thing on his mind. I think he obviously was happy about the (6-3) win. It’s nice to see that comes first, but still an extremely impressive performance out of him.”
This weekend, the 10-1-0 Eagles will feud with the rival Boston University Terriers. Then they visit Providence — home of fellow Flames commodities, centre Mark Jankowski and goalie Jon Gillies — before the Christmas break.
Not that the Carneys Point, N.J., native will trundle home for eggnog and tinsel.
Gaudreau is key part of the American entry bound the world junior championship in Russia.
“Hopefully, I get a chance to represent my country, to show the coaching staff that I have what it takes to play on the team,” he says. “I’m not too fond about (missing the holiday), I’m pretty close to my family . . . but I’m sure I can talk to them the whole time I’m up there.”
Gaudreau is unquestionably busy these days.
On this particular morning, he takes a few minutes — between a tutoring session and a child-development class — for a quick chat. Then there’s the ever-present pressure of defending the NCAA title. And the world junior lead-up. And the Hobey Baker buzz.
But, on the ice, life is always peaceful for Gaudreau.
“Whether it’s a practice or a game or a little pre-game skate, I just love going out there,” says the communications major. “A lot of guys, when they’re growing up, they get tired of it. They don’t want to go to practice and stuff like that. But I enjoy going to the rink every day.
“I love coming to the rink and I’m glad that (feeling) has stuck with me.”
Follow Scott Cruickshank on Twitter/CruickshankCH
CALGARY FLAMES PROSPECTS REPORT
The Flames have amateur prospects sprinkled around the hockey world. Here are draft picks currently skating in the NCAA:
Player Team GP G A P Draft selection
LW Johnny Gaudreau Boston College 11 9 10 19 104th, 2011
C Bill Arnold Boston College 11 4 7 11 10 108th, 2010
LW Matthew DeBlouw Michigan State 12 4 7 11 186th, 2012
C Mark Jankowski Providence 12 4 4 8 21st, 2012
C Nick Larson Notre Dame 13 1 1 2 108th, 2008
D John Ramage Wisconsin 10 0 0 0 103rd, 2010
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