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Boston College's new top line is the best in the nation

With his team in a slump, Jerry York grouped his best three forwards on the same line, and the results have been quite good for the Eagles.

Bill Arnold is sometimes the least recognized of the top line, but he leads Hockey East in assists with 21.
Bill Arnold is sometimes the least recognized of the top line, but he leads Hockey East in assists with 21.
Matt Dewkett (

They say two is company, and three's a crowd. For the Eagles top forward line, the crowd is quite lethal.

It all began when Boston College did something very un-Boston College-like. The Eagles traveled to Maine and dropped a rare contest against the against the Black Bears (a 5-1 blowout). BC's next game was at home against Holy Cross, another opponent they "should beat." But after two periods, the Eagles found themselves in a 5-1 hole, and head coach Jerry York said he knew he had to shake things up. So he took his three top players—Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold, and Kevin Hayes—and put them together on a line.

"Generally I like to split them up, but we're experimenting a little bit-we're coming off two losses in a row," York said after the three skaters stayed together the Eagles following game against New Hampshire. "There's a chance they could be a very good line."

The shakeup led to a near-comeback against Holy Cross, and then a win against the WIldcats. The trio has skated together ever since, to the tune of a 5-0 record, and a daunting matchup for opposing defenses.

"Coach put me, Bill, and Kevin together, and I think that was pretty exciting for all three of us, Gaudreau said after his Eagles defeated Notre Dame on Saturday in Fenway Park. "We never got a chance to play with each other, and that kind of sparked all three of us.

"Ever since coach put us together, we've been doing really well together."

The combination wasn't completely foreign: Gaudreau began the year on a line with Arnold and freshman Austin Cangelosi. Gaudreau's production on both lines has been nearly identical (1.84 points per game with Cangelosi, 1.83 points per game with Hayes), while Arnold has remained the constant. His new line, however, has completely flourished.

The unit has played five full games together, and has recorded 10 goals and 17 assists in that stretch. The tempo, skill, and size (minus the 5-foot-7 Gaudreau) the line possesses makes it a difficult group to contain.

"I like them there also because if we have a power play, they're fresh generally," York said after the New Hampshire game.

The individual who may be benefiting the most from the re-shuffling is Arnold, who's nearly scoring half a point more per game since York made the change. He tallied Saturday night against Notre Dame—part of a three-point night—when he tapped home a centering feed from Hayes.

"It doesn't get easier than that," Arnold said of his goal. "Playing with Kevin and Johnny, I seem to get a lot of those goals."

While Arnold doesn't get the recognition of Gaudreau (a Flames prospect), and Hayes (a Blackhawks prospect), Arnold was drafted by Calgary himself in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Draft. Still, he understands the pedigree his new linemates.

"[Hayes] and Johnny are probably two of the best players in the entire country, and it's a lot of fun to play with guys like that," Arnold said.

Hayes' production has also spiked, as he's put up over a half-point more per game as well. He's put up six assist next to four goals skating on his new line, an indication he's taking advantage of his new, skilled battering mates.

"It's been really fun so far this last stretch, playing with these guys," said Gaudreau. "They're really gifted players, and it's a lot of fun."