System Overload

I used to joke on a regular basis that somewhere along the line, a Cornell coach and a Boston College coach must have bumped into each other at a festival or something, and when they accidentally picked up the wrong sets of notes, it led to Brian Boyle going to BC and Topher Scott going to Cornell.

 Of course, that’s ridiculous, but then again, my sense of humor isn’t for everyone.

 So, what’s the point?

Well, the point is that for as much as people like to talk about Cornell’s system, and how it makes it easy for goaltenders to put up numbers that get them into the Hobey Baker conversation, one might be able to make the same case as concerns BC forwards and the system Jerry York employs at the Heights.

(Of course, no one whines about BC’s system, because BC is generally acknowledged as playing very exciting hockey…then again, I’ve never really gotten bored watching Cornell myself, so I really don’t get why people feel the need to complain about the Big Red.)

Obviously, BC recruits very high-end talent, so that obviously has something to do with it. However, it is worth mentionign counting each of Brian Gionta’s three Hobey finalist nods, the Eagles have had nine Hobey finalists at forward since 1999.

Brian Gionta, 1999: 60 points (27g, 33a) in 39 games

Brian Gionta, 2000: 56 points (33g, 23a) in 42

Jeff Farkas, 2000: 58 points (32g, 26a) in 41 games

Brian Gionta, 2001: 54 points (33g, 21a) in 43 games

Ben Eaves, 2003: 57 points (18g, 39a) in 36 games

Tony Voce, 2004: 47 points (29g, 18a) in 42 games

Patrick Eaves, 2005:  48 points (19g, 29a) in 36 games

Chris Collins, 2006: 63 points (34g, 29a) in 42 games

Nathan Gerbe, 2008: 68 poins (35g, 33a) in 43 games

That’s nine Hobey finalist berths for seven BC forwards, three of whom made it as far as the Hobey Hat Trick (Gionta three times, Collins, and Gerbe). However, none of them won the Hobey.

So, when I see Brock Bradford leading the nation with 22 points in 14 games, I can’t help but wonder what’s going to set him apart from the other Eagle forwards who have come and gone without taking home college hockey’s top individual honor.

None of this happens in a vacuum, of course. In his three years as a Hobey finalist, Gionta lost out to the nation’s leading scorer (Jason Krog), a BC teammate who averaged more than a point per game from the blueline (Mike Mottau), and a goalie whose unreal numbers that season are widely believed to have ruined the Hobey chances of all goalies since (Ryan Miller). Chris Collins also lost out to an amazing scoring year by a defenseman (Matt Carle), and Gerbe was in the Hat Trick with two of the best all-around candidates for the award that we’ve seen in some time, Kevin Porter (who won) and Ryan Jones.

Still, as good as Bradford has been for BC, I’m not quite convinced that he can stand out enough to win.

A couple of years ago, I was talking with Dave Starman, doing some work for an NHL Draft preview, and Benn Ferriero’s name came up.

“Here’s the thing,” Dave said. “At BC, the names change, the faces change, but the players are almost the same. I compare Ferriero and Gerbe and [Stephen] Gionta, and everybody reminds me of Tony Voce. I keep looking at Boston College’s lineup, and I keep seeing a new Tony Voce show up.”

That’s not to say that Bradford doesn’t have a chance. He’s having a heck of a year, and as long as he continues to produce, he’ll be a part of the Hobey conversation. That said, though, if Bradford is to win the Hobey, he’ll have to be more than just another high-scoring BC forward (albeit a high-scoring BC forward who shares a birthday with me, not to mention Ryan Star).

Gionta was more, but ran into tough competition. Gerbe was more, but he had tough competition too (not to mention an image problem). Is Bradford more? We’ll see.

Author: Elliot Olshansky

Elliot Olshansky covers the Hobey Baker Award beat for USCHO.com and also covers men’s and women's hockey and lacrosse at NCAA.com for Turner Sports. His experience includes four years covering college hockey for CSTV, stints at other media outlets including the New York Daily News and Spike TV, and freelance writing. His debut novel, "Robert's Rules of Karaoke," is currently available from The Write Deal (www.thewritedeal.org).