Mike Mottau will freely admit he is hardly an unbiased observer, but the Bruins defenseman does believe that the top-seeded Boston College hockey squad has a very good chance of adding to the town's impressive collection of championships in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
The Eagles have won 15 straight games, including a 4-1 victory over Maine Saturday night in the Hockey East title game, and enter the tournament as the top overall seed in the 16-team field.
Mottau, a former Boston College star who was acquired by the Bruins at the trade deadline in a deal with the Islanders, got a chance to check out his alma mater playing in his new home rink during the Hockey East tournament, and the Avon, Mass. native liked what he saw.
"We came back from the road trip and had practice that Friday, then I went back to the Garden and popped in and watched the first two periods of the Providence [semifinal] game," Mottau said before the Bruins left for their three-game West Coast road trip. "They're a strong team. They're really deep. Some of those guys have only lost one playoff game in their careers, so they have a quiet confidence about them and it shows on the ice. They play a good style, but they're very confident. They can wear teams down with their size and their speed."
Mottau knows a little about what it takes to succeed in college. The member of the Boston College Class of 2000 won the Hobey Baker Award as the nation's top collegiate player as a senior before embarking on a 12-year pro career, the last five spent exclusively in the NHL with the Devils, Islanders and Bruins.
Mottau also knows it won't be easy for the Eagles to win their fifth NCAA title. BC is the top seed at 29-10-1 and gets to open the tournament in nearby Worcester, taking on Air Force (21-10-7) Saturday at the DCU Center (4 p.m.). A victory in the opening round could set up a rematch with Maine in the regional final, if the Black Bears can also get by defending champion Minnesota-Duluth in the nightcap Saturday in Worcester.
"I like it, they drew Air Force first," Mottau said. "That's kind of a tough matchup for a 1-16 because the 16 team's going to play loose. But what they need to do is just rely on knowing they can wear teams down. I think they have a very good chance of winning a national championship."
BC has won three championships since the start of the new millennium, taking home the title in 2001, 2008 and 2010. But the Eagles fell in the opening round to Colorado College 8-4 last year, fueling their drive for another championship this season.
"I think it's good that they lost last year in the first round," Mottau said. "It will kind of guard them against any complacency. They have a great thing going over there and it’s going to continue this year."
Mottau has a pretty good thing going as well. He's played a limited role since joining the Bruins, but he is back home playing in front of friends and family and has joined a legitimate contender after spending the past two years with an Islanders club that has not made the playoffs since 2007.
"It's still great being home, seeing a lot of my family and friends that I don't usually see during the season," Mottau said. "It's calmed down a little bit for sure, but it's still great to be home."
The only drawback to playing in front of the homefolks can be the ticket demands of friends and family, but Mottau has been able to manage that.
"It wasn't too bad, my mother usually nips that in the bud," Mottau said. "Because if that door gets opened there's really no end in sight. My immediate family and a few friends get tickets for games. Fortunately a lot of my friends have tickets to begin with. It's nice. I see them after games. It's been a thrill for me to be back."
And it will also be a thrill if Mottau's Eagles can add another national title while he's back in town.