BU alums faceoff in Stanley Cup playoffs once again

Another year of professional hockey came to a close last night as Nick Bonino, Mike Sullivan and the Pittsburgh Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row. This is the first time an NHL team has won the championship title in back-to-back years since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. 

Over the past three weeks, the Penguins had to get through the force of Colin Wilson and the rest of the Nashville Predators before securing a win in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Nick Bonino wins his second Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins. PHOTO COURTESY OF ESPN
Nick Bonino won his second Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF ESPN

While Bonino and Wilson led the Terriers to an NCAA championship in 2009, the pair were on opposite ends of the ice as their teams battled for the NHL championship.

However, the BU alum action didn’t end there.

From April to June, Boston University hockey fans got to watch some of their favorite alums, even some very new ones like Charlie McAvoy, fulfill their dreams and take on the ice in the post-season.

Here’s a little overview of how your former Terriers fared.

Nick Bonino – Pittsburgh Penguins

Since scoring the game-tying goal with 15.4 seconds left in regulation of the 2009 NCAA title game against the University of Miami, the excitement surrounding Bonino has not dissipated. As a center on Pittsburgh’s third line, he has proven himself as a reliable member of the Penguins’ penalty kill unit and someone who pulls through in tough situations.

After ending the regular season with 37 points (18g, 19a), Bonino has found the back of the net in Game 1 of each playoff series except during the Eastern Conference Finals. He scored the game-winner against the Washington Capitals and had a two-goal night against the Predators.

However, Bonino’s most recent show of playoffs resiliency was returning to the bench the following period after taking a blocked shot to the ankle during Game 3 of the Finals. The Penguins second-year head coach and BU alum Mike Sullivan stated before Game 4 that, “Nick Bonino is a game-time decision.” Bonino did not return to the ice for the remainder of the series. – NH

Colin Wilson – Nashville Predators

The seventh selection in the 2008 NHL Draft has been a consistent performer for the Predators since joining the team at the beginning of his NHL career.

This spring, as the Predators enjoyed their most successful postseason stretch in franchise history, Wilson hopped on the ice for 12 games while racking up a pair of goals and assists each. Serving as the left wing on the team’s third line, Wilson opened his postseason up by netting the team’s first goal in its Western Conference Semifinal series against the St. Louis Blues after sitting out the first round with a lower-body injury.

He followed this tally up with a critical goal in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. With the Predators trailing the Anaheim Ducks by one goal in the hostile Honda Center environment, Wilson tied the game with 40 seconds remaining in the second period. He was able to beat the Ducks formidable goaltender Jonas Bernier with a backhanded shot on the power-play. His goal sparked momentum on Nashville’s side and led to a 3-1 win.

Wilson was forced to watch from the sidelines due to a lower-body ailment against the Penguins, but returned for Games 5 and 6, and played over 29 minutes in both games. – LO

Charlie McAvoy – Boston Bruins

After scoring the game-winning goal against North Dakota in BU’s NCAA championship quest, McAvoy signed an amateur tryout (ATO) contract with the Providence Bruins. However, after the Bruins’ injury-plagued season, McAvoy found himself alongside the likes of Zdeno Chára and Brad Marchand in the 2017 NHL playoffs.

Although the Bruins were unable to make it past the first round, McAvoy proved his worth as a steady blueliner and staple of Boston’s strong power-play unit. The 19-year-old defenseman played a minimum of 24 minutes in each game, the second-most on the team behind Chára. He also notched three assists over the series, including one in overtime. – NH

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson – Boston Bruins

After being selected as the 45th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, “JFK,” as the Terriers faithful affectionately deemed him, joined the Bruins towards the end of the 2016-17 regular season.

While Forsbacka Karlsson did not see any ice time in Boston’s brief playoff run, he was called upon for over eight minutes during the regular season in a loss to the Washington Capitals on April 8. While he was unable to get a shot attempt on net, Forsbacka Karlsson did snag the first face-off victory of his career in 13 shifts. – LO

Kevin Shattenkirk – Washington Capitals

With 19 games remaining in the regular season, Shattenkirk was acquired by Washington in an attempt to beef up their defensive front for their halted title run. He racked up two goals and 12 assists in the regular season before posting 240 minutes of ice time in the postseason.

While this May will most likely be remembered most by Caps fans for their team’s listless performance in a shutout loss to the Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Shattenkirk provided Washington with its most thrilling moment of the postseason.

The Penguins appeared destined to grapple hold of an insurmountable 3-0 lead as the contest headed into overtime at PPG Paints Arena. However, Shattenkirk’s wrister on a power-play three minutes into the extra period gave the Capitals life in the series. – LO

Charlie Coyle – Minnesota Wild

The Weymouth, Mass. native has seen his points production rise steadily in every season of his NHL career, and 2016-17 was no exception to this trend. The third-liner racked up 18 goals (four power-play goals and five game-winning goals) and a career-high 38 assists on the season, accumulating the highest point total of his career with 56. He also made an impact defensively with 63 blocks.

Minnesota’s time in the playoffs was short-lived as they were bounced in five games by the Blues. However, Coyle made his mark, notching the Wild’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss in Game 3 before netting the go-ahead goal in Minnesota’s 2-0 win in Game 4, which allowed them to stave off a potential sweep. – LO

Eric Gryba – Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers enjoyed their first trip to the postseason since losing Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals to the Carolina Hurricanes, and Gryba appeared in 40 games as a platoon defenseman. He matched his career high with two goals on the season while notching four assists.

Gryba was on the bench for the majority of Edmonton’s run against the San Jose Sharks, receiving just 16 minutes of ice time and racking up a penalty in his lone appearance in the series. Against the Ducks, Gryba reached the ice in two games, including Game 7’s defeat. – LO

Alex Chiasson – Calgary Flames

Although he led the Terriers in points for two seasons in a row (2010-11 and 2011-12), Chiasson hasn’t replicated the same caliber with the Calgary Flames. Since joining the team this season, the right wing collected 24 points. During the playoffs, he saw the ice in all four games, but didn’t find the back of the net as Anaheim crushed Calgary 4-0 in the series. – NH

Adam Clendening – New York Rangers

Since being drafted 38th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft to the Chicago Blackhawks, Clendening hasn’t kept a stronghold on a team. The defenseman has signed with five teams in five years, including the New York Rangers as a free agent.

He has seen the most success with the Rangers in his NHL career. However, he did not see much ice time during the regular season when New York’s defense was at full-strength and has not taken a shift during the playoffs. – NH