Chris Kreider’s Boston College teammates saw a different player in the second half of this season.
It’s probably no accident the turnaround came immediately after the World Juniors in January.
Kreider helped the Americans claim the gold medal in the annual tournament, and he returned to BC with a heightened air of confidence. The freshman forward played with more aggression and freedom, executing the plays he might have been too green to attempt before the world tournament.
And his emergence was a major reason why the Eagles skated away with last weekend’s national championship.
“Ever since he came back from the World Juniors, he’s played phenomenal,” BC junior goalie John Muse said. “I really think he stepped up his game a few levels since then.”
Kreider had just two goals and three assists in 14 games before the World Juniors, but he registered 13 goals and five assists in 24 games after.
“Throughout the year, including World Juniors, he had a lot of situations where he gained a lot of maturity and kind of grew,” senior assistant captain Matt Lombardi said after BC’s 5-0 victory against Wisconsin in the title game. “You can definitely see he’s matured as a person. I think he has a bright future at BC.”
Kreider, who carried the NCAA trophy from the ice to the BC locker room Saturday night, couldn’t say which championship was better.
“They’re both different,” he said. “They’re both great in their own right. We worked so hard all season to get to this point, and [the national championship involved] is a huge body of work. World Juniors is different because you have to bring together kids that don’t play with each other usually.”