You may have heard this before but playing college hockey involves an adjustment period. Regardless of where someone played prior to the NCAA, expectations must be tempered while they transition to a more physical style of play against older opposition. Still, when a young player is selected in the first round, he is under more of a microscope. Some tend to ignore that adjustment period and become prematurely critical of slow starts from freshmen.
Minnesota Wild prospect, Matthew Boldy, fits well into that category. His exceptional play in his draft year with the USNTDP led to Minnesota selecting the Millis, Massachusetts native with the 12th-overall pick. However, his production with “the program” did not immediately translate to the college level, leading to some slight cause for concern. Luckily, a strong return after the holiday break eliminated any and all worries.
Matthew Boldy Puts it All Together After Slow Start
To simply categorize the start of Boldy’s freshmen season with Boston College as slow would be an understatement. Although he kicked off the year with a goal against a highly hyped Wisconsin team, it would be the only mark Boldy would put on the scoresheet for quite some time. The once high-scoring member the USTDP failed to produce either a goal or assist in the next 10 games. His pointless drought finally came to an end with an assist in a 6-2 victory against Yale.
Still, Boldy struggled to remain an impactful presence through the first part of the 2019-20 season. Heading into the holiday break, he managed to only produce one goal and two assists through 15 games. Obviously, far from what anyone was expecting, even while giving him time to fully adjust.
The reality is, slow starts for any player at any level of hockey can happen. Regardless of whether you’re a college freshman or a seasoned pro, the likelihood of it taking a little time to get things going exists. In the end, it’s all about how a player responds to that initial bump in the road.
Luckily for both Boston College and the Wild, Boldy responded incredibly well. In the first game of the new year, he recorded an assist in an 8-3 beatdown of Vermont. Then, two games later he scored his first goal since the opening game of the season, as well as posting an assist for the first multi-point contest of his freshmen campaign. In just three games since coming back from the break, Boldy had equaled his point total from the first half of the year.
Heading into the middle of February, Boldy was producing points at a more consistent rate but was still struggling to find the back of the net with any regularity. Between Jan. 4 and Feb. 14 he still only managed to score two goals, giving him just three on the year to that point. Then, in a Saturday matchup against a lowly Merrimack College, he registered his first multi-goal game, recording two goals and an assist in a 6-2 win.
At that point, Boston College’s regular season was dwindling down to its final few games. Still, Boldy capitalized off the strong outing against Merrimack and produced similar efforts in the four remaining contests. After a pointless effort against Northeastern, he finished the regular season with three-point games against Northeastern and Merrimack, both two-goal affairs, and an assist in an end-of-the-season contest against Boston University.
When it was all said and done, Boldy finished the regular season with 25 points in 32 games. Remarkably 11 of those 25 points were accrued throughout the last six games of the year.
What it Means for the Wild
It’s challenging to accurately assess Boldy’s freshman year with Boston College. For most of it, the argument can be that he struggled to perform to his full potential. A similar argument can be made that he just took a while to get going and we finally got to see the real Boldy in February. Now, with postseason games about to begin, we will get to see if his strong end of the year can translate to the games that matter most. Still, unless he manages astonishing feats, the likelihood of him signing his pro contract will not be altered.
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There is a good chance that some freshmen players will experience one-and-done college careers with their respective teams. A player such as Trevor Zegras comes to mind as a prospect that could sign his pro contract when NCAA play officially comes to an end. Still, in all reality, Boldy will not be one of those players.
Though he finally started clicking towards the end of the season, it took him quite some time to finally get going. Then, when he finally started producing consistently, it was done against inferior opponents. Boldy still needs time to develop both his game and confidence at the college level. Of course, that is perfectly fine. For those keeping tabs on this promising young prospect, setting a timeline for him to join the Wild franchise after his junior year is currently the safest bet.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.