Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ice hockey: Homecoming for Johnny Gaudreau

The NCAA Frozen Four will be a homecoming for Johnny Gaudreau.

Ice hockey: Homecoming for Johnny Gaudreau

Boston College´s Gaudreau, a Carneys Point native, is the leading candidate to win the Hobey Baker Award. (Elise Amendola/AP file photo)
Boston College's Gaudreau, a Carneys Point native, is the leading candidate to win the Hobey Baker Award. (Elise Amendola/AP file photo)

The NCAA Frozen Four will be a homecoming for Johnny Gaudreau.

Gaudreau, the former Gloucester Catholic star who probably is college hockey's best player, will lead Boston College into the national semifinals April 10 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

"It's going to be exciting for me to get back home," Gaudreau said on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. "I have heard from so many family and friends and old teachers who have texted me or emailed me.

"I'm just trying to take it all in and enjoy it."

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Gaudreau, who grew up in Carneys Point in Salem County, said he never played a game in the Wells Fargo Center -- although he once took the ice at one of those "Mites on Ice" events between periods of a Flyers game.

"I was younger than everybody else so I probably was out there making snow angels," Gaudreau said. "I was always a big Flyers fan."

Gaudreau, a left wing, is the leading candidate to win the Hobey Baker Award, college hockey's equivalent of the the Heisman Trophy in college football.

Gaudreau leads BC (28-7-4) with 77 points (36 goals, 42 assists). Known in the Boston area as "Johnny Hockey," Gaudreau scored a point in 31 straight games this season.

In the regional semifinals against Denver, Gaudreau had a goal hat trick and an assist hat trick -- three goals and three assists.

Denver coach Jim Montgomery, the former Flyers player who coached Gaudreau in juniors, compared Gaudreau to Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk.

"He's a dominant, dominant player at our level," BC coach Jerry York said Tuesday.

Gaudreau will have a big decision to make when Boston College's season is over. He either can sign with the NHL's Calgary Flames, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2011, or opt to return to college for his senior season.

In the latter case, he would sign with Calgary after his senior season, according to his father, Guy Gaudreau, the rink manager at Holleydell Ice Arena in Sewell.

Guy Gaudreau said that he and his wife, Jane, were leaving the decision to their son.

"He's 20 years old," Guy Gaudreau said. "He has to make this decision."

At around 5-foot-9, 155 pounds, Gaudreau faces questions about whether he is too small to succeed in the NHL. He has dealt with the same issue for his entire career.

"His whole life he's been proving people wrong," Guy Gaudreau said. "All he's ever wanted to do was play in the NHL."

Note: You can read more about Johnny Gaudreau's remarkable rise from South Jersey star to college hockey's most intriguing player in the days to come as The Inquirer previews the NCAA Frozen Four.

-- Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com

-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter


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About this blog
Born and raised in South Jersey, Phil Anastasia prefers standing on the sidelines at high school football games on Friday nights to sitting in the press box at Eagles games on Sunday afternoons. He’s a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in English.

Phil Anastasia Inquirer Columnist
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