October 12, 2003
Postcard: Eaves Back on Ice

EAST LANSING, Mich. – During the intermission of a hockey game a few years ago, a friend – noting the number of fans who remained in their seats during the break – told me people like to watch the ice being resurfaced because it's a visual metaphor for renewal. No doubt that Boston College's Patrick Eaves looked at the slick sheet prior to Friday's game against Minnesota-Duluth in the first round of the Ice Breaker Tournament at Munn Ice Arena and had similar thoughts.

Patrick Eaves had 10-8—18 in 14 games as a freshman.

After all, it was Eaves' first game in an Eagle uniform since the first round of the 2003 Hockey East Tournament last March, when a collision with Merrimack goaltender Joe Exter sent Exter to the hospital with a potentially life-threatening head injury (he's fine now). That happened in Eaves' first game back after missing 20 contests with a neck injury, and it sent Eaves to the offseason with a dark cloud hanging over him.

Being taken in the first round of June's National Hockey League entry draft by the Ottawa Senators offered a brief bright moment, but if one listened closely, you could hear the page being turned in Eaves' mental planner prior to Friday's skate in front of a few hundred fans in East Lansing.

"It was a mix of everything," said Eaves of the thoughts swirling through his head during his team's 2-2 tie with Minnesota-Duluth. "I had a long summer to think about it, and it took me a couple periods to get back into it. But it was good to have the sweater on."

It was also good to be on a line with seniors Tony Voce and Ben Eaves, Patrick's older brother and the Eagles' captain. Not only will it give the younger Eaves a chance to produce on one of the game's top lines, but he'll definitely share the spotlight with those two and others this season after spending entirely too much time as a focal point last season.

"It was good to see him out there," Ben Eaves said after Friday's game. "He keeps on telling me he's going to be better. He missed the game last week (vs. Vermont, the final game of his suspension), so he says his legs needed one game."

Apparently, Ben's sibling is a bit of a prophet. After a so-so effort against the Bulldogs – a fact admitted by Patrick Eaves and the Eagles' coaches – he looked more at ease against surprising Findlay in Saturday's championship match, especially in the third period. He scored the eventual game-winning goal – a power-play marker – early in the third period on a laser from the near point.

"Good to get it off my back," said Eaves, grinning proudly, when asked about the goal following the game.

Later in the period, he assisted on Voce's insurance goal as Boston College cruised to a 4-1 win.

"He's gonna make plays," said Ben Eaves of his brother. "He's gonna make things happen."

For whatever reason, Patrick Eaves seemed to always be around when things happened last season. Clearly, he wants to be a catalyst a team with championship aspirations this season. He's just determined to shed the tag as a lightning rod for controversy.

"That's behind me," Patrick Eaves said, still sweating from his team's win in the Ice Breaker Tournament title game. "I've had a lot of support from my team and we're all in it together. It's a new season, I've got great linemates and we're ready to go."

– Mike Eidelbes

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