“Obviously, after we won last year, there was a time when we weren’t working out, and weren’t practicing,’’ said Mullane. “We could sit back and say, ‘This is great,’ but when summer workouts started, the coaching staff and strength staff and seniors made it clear, we’re not satisfied. We want to have No. 6 for the school and No. 3 for our class. I’d love to see our freshman class experience a national championship. There’s no complacency there.’’
BC sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau, who had an electrifying rookie year, said winning only whetted his appetite for more.
“I want to win a national championship again,’’ said Gaudreau. “Right now, it’s like I haven’t won one. It would be special to do it twice in a row. Every time I step on the ice, I’m excited to play. I hate losing. Every time you put on the jersey and step on the ice, the hunger just starts right out of the gate.’’
One of the critical factors to the Eagles’ success last year was the play of goaltender Parker Milner, who had big shoes to fill after four-year starter John Muse graduated. As a junior, Milner led the Eagles to a 19-victory run that culminated in the championship. He said he believes he still has plenty to prove.
“You want to pick apart the things you did well so you can do them again,’’ said Milner. “It doesn’t just automatically happen again. We won’t be replicating it, we can’t expect to have it exactly happen. We have a strong group, but we just need to realize it’s a different year. Most people think the more you win it, the less hungry you get. But from my experience of winning two, it kind of works the opposite way. It increases it. I want to improve, I want to improve my leadership. There is not much flashy I try to do. I just want to be that consistent piece [of the puzzle] that guys can rely on.’’
York said his players realize that there is a bigger picture on which to focus than their individual achievements.
“I really think we’ve become very good at leaving your ego at the door,’’ said York. “You can have good players but if they don’t develop and get better during the season, during their careers, it doesn’t account for much. I think our players really feel that team goals are important for them. The leadership of Ben Smith and Ryan Shannon and Tommy Cross and now Pat Mullane, they really reinforce it. We have a number of players who could easily be thinking about Hobey Baker [awards] and All-American [honors]. They come into the arena and think about team aspects and that’s helping us an awful lot.’’
When asked if he actively recruits student-athletes who have leadership qualities, York said it’s not easy to quantify.
“We try to measure it, it’s awfully hard to do it,’’ he said. “We try to make it clear we’re looking at team goals here. We’re not trying to make you the next Hobey Baker winner at BC. If it happens, it happens. We really push the team aspect. I learned that from my Little League coach [Richie Crowley].’’
No team has won back-to-back titles since Denver in 2004 and ’05 and York acknowledged it’s not easy to repeat.
“It’s hard to win,’’ said York. “It’s hard to win anything.’’
The Eagles only make it look easy.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.