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College Hockey:
Defense means as much as top-ranked offense for Boston College

PHILADELPHIA — Boston College may boast the nation’s No. 1 offense, but the Eagles know their school’s recent national championships (2008, 2010, 2012) haven’t come by outrunning and outgunning the opposition.

They’ve come from being an excellent defensive team. This year’s squad is prepared to follow suit.

From the blue line back through to the goal crease, however, they’re young. Goaltender Thatcher Demko is a freshman and five of the six defensemen are either freshmen or sophomores. So although the Eagles won it all two years ago, they’re still almost totally bereft of Frozen Four experience on the defensive side.

“The upperclassmen have done a great job of letting us know what to expect,” Demko said. “They’ve told us there’s going to be a lot of hype, but you have to make sure you play your game and don’t change anything.

“We’ve had success this year, so we can’t be trying to change stuff and expecting a different result just because it’s on a bigger stage. We have to stay focused on us and make sure we’re playing our game.”

It also makes all the difference in the world when the offensive stars buy into playing the defensive game. BC’s juggernaut top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes knows that it needs to pay attention to the defensive end or all of its offensive fireworks will go for naught.

“Obviously, as a line we like to score goals,” Arnold said, “but all three of us really embrace a two-way game. Just talking about Johnny specifically, he’s super offensive. He has over 70 points. But whenever you ask him what he wants to work on, he’s always saying to improve on his defensive play. He’s really embraced that.

“As much as we like to score goals, we know if we get scored on, we have to put two in to be a positive for the team. It’s a lot easier to keep them off the board and make sure we’re helping our team by scoring goals every chance we get.”

With BC’s stars leading by example offensively and defensively, that youth on the defensive side doesn’t look quite so critical.

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