A little over twelve hours later and I’m still coming to grips with what happened yesterday. Yes, the Bruins lost and will miss the playoffs for the first time in almost 10 years. But honestly, that is not what as me feeling this way.
Yesterday, the Boston University Terriers lost a heartbreaker in the finals of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. Victory was snatched from them in a matter of minutes. One tiny miscue. Then one goal. And it was all over.
I was gutted. Totally and utterly gutted.
I’ve watched this team all season and I can honestly say that I have not seen a group like this in a long time. The ’09 team was an impressive group, to be sure. But this team – there was an intangible, indescribable “something.” I could try finding the words to define it but I don’t know if I’d do it any true justice.
The arrival of Jack Eichel and an impressive group of freshman started the turn around for a team what was abysmal last season. As the media hype swirled around Eichel, players like Brandon Fortunato, Brandon Hickey, John MacLeod, Nikolas Olsson, and A.J. Greer wove their way into the fabric of this storied hockey program. Returning forwards like Danny O’Regan, Evan Rodrigues, and Ahti Oksanen put up offensive numbers that name BU the top-scoring team in the nation. Doyle Somerby become a blue-line force, providing physicality and big hits in equal measure.
There is no dispute that Eichel brought a prestige and a impressive skill set to this storied program. Yes, he was the best player in the country. Yes, he did win the Hobey Baker. Yes, watching him skate and play was a thing of beauty.
But what he really brought was a belief in himself and his ability which permeated every other other player in that locker room. It extended out and touch every player wearing that scarlet and white sweater.
However, no talented team is complete without goaltending and this year, Matt O’Connor was outstanding. He became the undisputed starter and stepped into the role with a maturity and a focus.
Yesterday, he made one mistake. But yesterday will not and should not define him nor his hockey career. My hope is that those 15 or so NHL clubs that showed so much interest in him this season don’t turn away because if they do, they could miss out on something special.
O’Connor is an exceptional student and a class act of a human being. His coaches and teammates think the world of him. He answered question after question from the media, still clad in his gear. He told the story over and over again although I’m sure he would have preferred to be left alone. The disappointment he and his team must be feeling overwhelms me and I’m sure every member of Terrier Nation.
But that is just what happens when you love and appreciate a team this much. It has been a true joy to watch them play this season. Any one who knows the true me, knows that my love of hockey is true and deep and real. And my profound love for BU Hockey is its core.
This Terrier team may have missed out on a National Championship but I do not and cannot believe that it will be their last opportunity. Hockey is infused in every cell of their bodies. It feeds them and sustains them and it is a hunger that will not be satiated until they hold that trophy in their hands.
Tags: ahti oksanen, aj greer, Boston University, Boston University Hockey, brandon fortunato, brandon hickey, College Hockey, danny o'regan, doyle somerby, frozen four, Jack Eichel, john macleod, matt o'connor, nikolas olsson