With head coach David Quinn navigating the Boston University men’s hockey team through a pressure-packed Hockey East schedule, it’s sometimes easy to lose track of Terrier stars of yore. And the 2015-16 NHL season was chalked full of them, with seven vying for hockey’s holy grail.
Attempting to end a nine-year Stanley Cup drought, the below former BU stars gave it their all throughout April, May and June, but only the Pittsburgh Penguins stood tall in the end. Check out the comprehensive list below to learn who joined Joe DiPenta as the last BU alum to hoist the Cup. He did so in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks; that’s right, the same team that boasted Teemu Selanne, Chris Pronger and the Niedermayer brothers.
It’s been a long time coming.
Nick Bonino – Pittsburgh Penguins
For the second time in eight years, Sidney Crosby and co. emerged as the last team standing. Their fans can thank their lucky stars that Bonino centered the ever-productive line featuring Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin. The center tallied four goals and 14 assists in the Penguin’s 24 playoff games this season. His 18 playoff points tie Chris Drury for most ever by a Terrier.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect on Bonino’s playoff run was that he came up in clutch situations, time and time again. For BU hockey fans – who will long remember how the center notched a goal and assist in the 2009 NCAA title game – it was like a trip down memory lane.
The first overtime zinger bounced the seemingly unstoppable Washington Capitals from the second round. It wasn’t the prettiest of finishes, but sometimes all it takes is being in the right place at the right time.
For most forwards, one game-winner in the playoffs is enough. Bonino would beg to differ. “Mr. Clutch” rose to the occasion again in the Stanley Cup Final’s opening game, this time firing a swift wrister past goaltender Martin Jones in the third period’s dying moments. Game, set, match. – JS
Matt Nieto – San Jose Sharks
Nieto may have missed eight games after suffering from an upper-body injury in the second round, but the left winger still managed to contribute to the Shark’s Stanley Cup run. A staple on the third line, Nieto’s efforts weren’t enough to stop Pittsburgh’s 4-2 series win.
His lone playoff goal came in Game 5 of the opening round against the Los Angeles Kings, when he stuffed in a rebound in the second period to give San Jose a dominating 3-0 lead.
Nieto, who led BU in goals (18) during his junior season in 2013, finished the regular season with 17 points. – NF
Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues
With youth aging like a fine wine, the Blues seemed poised for a deep playoff run. They accomplished just that, ultimately falling in a six-game Western Conference Finals series to the San Jose Sharks. Shattenkirk, a staple of BU’s 2009 national title-winning side, demonstrated guile and conviction as Stanley Cup dreams swelled.
The blueliner kept some of the NHL’s best and brightest – the least of which were Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars – relatively quiet, paving the way for consecutive seven-game series wins. True to his form, Shattenkirk also contributed offensively, chipping in two goals and nine assists. While Shattenkirk and the Blues fell short of their ultimate goal, their 2015-16 season was nothing to be ashamed of. – JS
Colin Wilson, Nashville Predators
Coming off a disappointing regular season, Wilson came alive in the playoffs, recording five goals and eight assists in 14 postseason games. The left wing scored a point in seven consecutive games, a new Nashville postseason record, and came through when his team needed him the most. His goal in the first period of Game 7 of the opening round versus the Ducks gave the Predators the early lead, and his three points in Game 4 of the second round against the Sharks helped tie the series at two apiece.
The 2009 USA Hockey College Player of the Year while at BU, Wilson led the Predators in playoff scoring, but his team fell to the Sharks in seven games. Wilson played for the Terriers for two years, winning a national championship under coach Jack Parker in 2009. – NF
Brian Strait, New York Islanders
A Terrier from 2006 to 2008, Strait did not get a chance to participate in the playoffs after suffering an upper-body injury in a game April 5. The Waltham native finished the year with 1 goal and 6 points in 53 games played. – NF
Charlie Coyle, MIN
After playing all 82 games for the Wild in the regular season, Coyle tallied a goal and an assist before Minnesota fell to top-seeded Dallas in six games. The 2011 Hockey East Rookie of the Year while on Commonwealth Avenue, the second-line center played over 112 minutes for the Wild in the series. – NF
Mike Sullivan, PIT head coach
The 2015-16 season was Sullivan’s first season at Pittsburgh’s helm, but he never truly looked out of his element. He officially was named head coach in December, and guided the Penguins to a dominant 16-8 record throughout the playoffs. With that vein of form in mind, as well as the bevy of talent at his disposal, it’s no surprise the 48-year-old won hockey’s biggest prize.
Offering a calm presence behind the bench, Sullivan remained humble every step of the way.
Coach Sullivan: "I dont know how to explain it. I can't put it into words. I can't be more proud of the way we've come together as a team."
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 13, 2016
A four-year forward while at BU, Sullivan wrapped up his scarlet-and-white career with 138 career points. – JS