There's always some apprehension when a key returning player is coming back after off-season surgery. Such was the case for Boston College, a team with high expectations.
Junior goaltender Thatcher Demko had hip surgery over the summer, but he has shown no signs of complications from what can be a difficult procedure. The Vancouver Canucks prospect ran his shutout streak to 195:38 after completing his third consecutive shutout on Saturday night.
The Eagles swept Colorado College, 3-0 and 5-0, over the weekend. While BC's early season competition hasn't been the stiffest, Demko's promising start is certainly a positive. The San Diego, Calif. native has a .974 save percentage to go with his 0.60 goals against average.
The competition takes a significant step up Friday as preseason NCHC favorite Denver University comes to Conte Forum. For BC fans who double as Bruins supporters, the game will feature one of the top young prospects in the B's organization, DU sophomore forward Danton Heinen.
Ellis Steps Up
Providence junior goaltender Nick Ellis waited his turn in the shadows. He was Jon Gillies' understudy for his first two seasons as a Friar, but it is now the Millersville, Md. native's time to shine. The Pomfret alum is 4-0-1 with a .924 save percentage after this past weekend's two wins over Ohio State.
"Coming into the season that was our big question. Nick's answering that question pretty darn well. The guys have a lot of faith and trust in him. He's coming up with big saves at the right times in the game. His confidence keeps building," Leaman explained.
"He has pretty good rebound control. His glove tends to block things out pretty well," added Leaman.
Anyone who's seen Merrimack play this year can attest to the fact that the Warriors are a faster and more skilled team than they generally have been in the past. It's a true testament to the type of coach Mark Dennehy is and his ability to recognize a weakness and address it during the recruiting process.
Merrimack has done a considerably better job in terms of puck possession, outshooting its opponents 111-88 through four games. Dennehy and his players certainly would have liked more than just two points on the weekend against a very good UMass Lowell team, but there were several positives to be taken away from the two ties.
First, Merrimack outshot UMass Lowell, 15-1, in the third period Friday night. It was an impressive display of puck possession dominance by the Warriors. Their speed and puck movement allowed for virtual control of the entire last period of regulation.
Secondly, a night later on the road, Dennehy's team outshot Lowell and didn't falter. Merrimack's road record has been less than stellar the past few seasons. To see Merrimack make the necessary adjustments and not succumb to another road loss was at the very least an encouraging sign.
Equally as important for Merrimack is sophomore goaltender Collin Delia's early season play. He played well last season, but has taken the reigns as the full-time backstop with the graduation of Rasmus Tirronen. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. native has a .957 save percentage and 0.97 goals against average through four games.
New Hampshire junior forward Tyler Kelleher has scored 11 points in three games while being held off the score sheet in two games. He had four points in the season opener against American International, and another four in Friday's wild 6-6 tie against Massachusetts. He had another three points in a big win at Union on Saturday night.
His play is somewhat of a microcosm of his team's this season. The Wildcats have been hot and cold. UNH raced out to a 6-1 lead at UMass before surrendering five unanswered goals en route to the tie and lost point.