Scouting Rangers prospects Gabe Perreault and Drew Fortescue versus the Huskies
New York Rangers 2023 1st Round Pick Gabe Perreault, along with teammate and fellow 2023 3rd Round Pick Drew Fortescue of the Boston College Eagles, travelled to the newly opened Toscano Family Ice Forum in Storrs, Connecticut on Saturday, November 18th to take on the University of Connecticut Huskies.
I was on hand to witness the contest, and fortunate enough to spot the team on their way down to the locker room. Shortly after the doors opened, I was able to take a photo with the organization’s most recent top pick prior to warmups.
BC would top UCONN 3-0, with Perreault posting an assist on the eventual game-winner to add to his team-leading point total (2 goals, 15 assists, in 12 games).
Scouting Gabe Perreault and Drew Fortescue
Perreault was named to the starting lineup for the visitors on Saturday night, lining up at left wing alongside National Team Development Program alums Will Smith and Ryan Leonard. Perreault had the first shot of the game fourteen seconds into play, but was turned aside by Huskies goaltender Ethan Haider.
Boston College would take the lead early at the 4:03 mark when Gabe Perreault blocked a shot at the point and skated down the ice in a 2-on-0 with Will Smith. Perreault made the unselfish play to defer to Will Smith at the right post to beat Ethan Haider. With the assist, Perreault extended his point streak to ten games.
Perreault would have a shot attempt at 9:54 go out of play, but would stay out to take the ensuing faceoff. Linemate Ryan Leonard was called for roughing at 10:38. Defenseman Drew Fortescue came on for the last sixteen seconds of Boston’s penalty, which was successfully killed. The visitors would get their own power play opportunity with 3:29 left in the period when 2020 6th round pick of the Tampa Bay Lighting, Nick Capone was charged with slashing. Gabe Perreault would be featured on the first power play unit with 2022 fifth overall pick Cutter Gauthier.
Jacob Fowler stood tall to reach out with his blocker and stop a shorthanded breakaway attempt, denying Tabor Heaslip to preserve the lead. Boston College wasn’t able to set up their attack with the man advantage to generate any shots. UConn lead possession through the majority of the first period, but were unable to breakthrough. The first period ended with the Huskies trailing 1-0 despite holding a 17-10 advantage in shots on goal.
Gabe Perreault was out to start the second period for Boston College. His line mate Ryan Leonard would commit his second infraction of the game at 3:27 as he was called for cross checking. The penalty kicked off another “POWER STATION EVENTS: Power Play” as the UConn Pep band chanted out following an official announcement over the public address system, though UConn wasn’t able to score.
It won’t be featured on any highlight reel, but I was impressed with the defensive positioning of Fortescue, as he made a nice defensive play around the 12:21 mark to angle Matthew Wood off the puck. The Rangers 3rd rounder has so far been entrusted to play a shut down role defensively, and standing up to Nashville’s first round pick in 2023 shows why he has earned this trust from the coaching staff. On Friday night, Fortescue showcased a bit of offense, doubling his goal total on the year during the 5-4 overtime victory.
Capone took another penalty at 8:35 as he was assessed for roughing. Following another short-handed breakaway stop by Fowler, Boston College would counter. Gabe Perreault came out for the second power play unit, but UConn was able to kill. During a break in the action, the pep band performed a rendition of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme, a feature of college hockey which editor in chief of The Hockey News Ryan Kennedy pointed out makes attending live games so much fun and entertaining. This was followed by the traditional chant of “How much time is left in the period?” shortly before the official announcement came over the public address system.
With twenty seconds to go in the period, Perreault showcased his hand-eye coordination and skills by knocking the puck out of the air, though the score remained 1-0 after the horn sounded. Shots on goal favored UConn 23-20 with both goaltenders looking strong in the tight game.
The third period began with Perreault lined up at left wing for the opening faceoff. Boston College found themselves on the power play once again just two minutes and two seconds into the period when Andrew Lucas was called for holding. Perreault had a couple of shot attempts, the first going wide of the net before another was tipped wide. The action went to 4 on 4 for 24 seconds when Will Vote was charged with cross checking. Fortescue helped defend the Eagles lead with a successful kill, and would have a shot attempt stopped later in the period.
Huskies fans weren’t happy with the officiating when a quick whistle blew with nine minutes to play on an icing call. Their displeasure was further directed upon the officiating crew when Jake Percival was also sent to the penalty box for embellishment after being hooked by Jacob Bengtsson at 12:44. With 3:30 on the clock, Gauthier sniped a shot to double the lead for the Eagles, and the arena began to clear out. An Oskar Jellvik back handed empty net goal at 17:24 sealed the deal.
Fowler earned his first NCAA shutout in the 3-0 win for Boston College, turning aside all thirty one shots against. With the two wins against UConn, the Eagles improve to 9-2-1 on the season. Boston College will travel to Notre Dame on Black Friday for a matchup with the Fighting Irish at 4 P.M. The Eagles then face Zakary Karpa and the Harvard Crimson on Sunday afternoon at 1 P.M. at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
Assessing the play of Perreault and Fortescue
Watching these Rangers prospects up close and in person, it’s clear why they were selected. Perreault’s hockeyIQ and vision stands out as his greatest attribute. He is able to find and set up teammates for opportunities and scoring chances in almost any situation. While not the biggest player at 5’11” and 165 lbs, Perreault does play with tenacity. He was often the first player on the forecheck, and didn’t shy away from physicality in the corners or in front of the net. His pressure in the defensive zone is also what ultimately led to the Eagles’ first goal, which ended up being the game winner.
Perreault also has a pass-first mentality as a play maker rather than a straight shooter. This is reminiscent of former Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, who similarly would often defer to teammates rather than taking the shot himself. Despite primarily playing left wing for the majority of the season, Perreault has been deployed for several faceoff draws, having a record of 7-10. This versatility will come in handy for his development down the line into his professional career.
As for Fortescue, I was impressed by his calmness and ability to step into his defensive role as a freshman. He has been trusted with being a shutdown defenseman on the top pair for the Eagles, and utilized his size nicely to prevent other teams’ top players from generating chances against. While Boston College has the offensive weapons to compete in a track meet against any opponent, Fortescue has been able to contribute offensively as well with two goals on the season while also seeing time on the penalty kill. His shooting percentage of .200 is indicative that he has the ability to produce, and has averaged one shot per game, so is ready to pull the trigger when the situation presents itself.