After an action-packed 40 games and an eventful first month of the offseason, the dust has finally settled on the 2018-19 BU men’s hockey season.
“There were a lot of ups and downs this year,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell in reflection on the 2018-19 campaign.
It was O’Connell’s first season at the helm for the Terriers, and according to the former BU captain, he received some assistance along the way from BU hockey legend Jack Parker and now-New York Rangers boss David Quinn, whom O’Connell served as an assistant coach for during his tenure at BU.
“[Those were] two guys I leaned on a little bit this year,” O’Connell said. “They were pretty helpful to me and our staff in the transition.”
The first-year manager was certainly tested in his inaugural season, leading a team that finished with an overall record of 16-18-4. While the Terriers went winless in their first five competitive games, the team would only fall in three of their final 10 fixtures – an improvement that O’Connell credits to his players.
“They stuck with it and kept working,” said the Duxbury resident. “Guys were playing pretty banged up.”
Although BU’s form appeared to peak at just the right time down the stretch, the season would ultimately conclude with no hardware returning to Commonwealth Avenue.
“We were, in the Beanpot and the Hockey East semifinals, a goal away,” said O’Connell in regards to his team’s 2-1 overtime losses to Northeastern University in both competitions. “Those are tough pills to swallow.”
In terms of simply getting to the Hockey East semifinals, O’Connell believes earning a spot among the conference’s final four was a notable accomplishment in itself.
“It’s hard to get to the Garden,” the coach said. “The league was very tight this year.”
The final results may not have come for Terriers, but the way Coach O’Connell saw it, effort was never a question from his men on the ice.
The guys gave it their all,” O’Connell said. “We look for the same, if not more, from the returners.”
Embarking on a new season this upcoming fall, the Terriers will rely on continued contributions from major pieces of the 2018-19 squad. Among those anticipated to carry the weight will be a leadership group comprised of rising seniors Patrick Curry and Patrick Harper, as well as rising juniors Logan Cockerill and Cam Crotty.
Curry will serve as BU’s sole captain as announced by Coach O’Connell at the team’s annual banquet. The Illinois native had a breakout season as a junior, tallying 26 points to top his total from his first two collegiate seasons combined. With Curry entering his senior season, the Terriers know that they have a strong skipper to set an example for the club.
“To the guys who are in the weight room, watch what Curry did last year,” said Coach O’Connell. “We love the way he plays, we love the way he competes.”
Alongside Curry will be fellow senior Patrick Harper, who was named an assistant captain. As one of just a handful of seniors on the roster, Harper will be expected to continue his knack for production that has brought about three straight seasons of 20 or more points.
“He’s a great scorer, playmaker, and offensive threat,” O’Connell said about Harper. “We believe we have the most dynamic guy in the league in Patrick Harper.”
Cam Crotty will also wear an “A” in his third season with the team, and as the only non-forward among the leadership group, the Canadian looks to be the clear-cut leader of the BU defensive corps.
“He really was stable back there,” said O’Connell of Crotty. “He gave us some offense at times, but didn’t do it in the way of losing any defense.”
Another junior in a leadership position, Logan Cockerill will round out the list of BU assistant captains. To Coach O’Connell, Cockerill presents major potential on both ends of the ice, and could play a critical role for BU as an upperclassman.
“When he’s on his game, he’s about as good as anyone in the country,” said the head coach. “He’s a competitive guy, and we expect him to be like that every game next year. Consistency will be a key for him.”
The team will welcome ten recruits to Agganis Arena in the fall, replacing the five graduating seniors and five premature departures bound for professional hockey. Per Coach O’Connell, the team also has plans to bring in a graduate transfer goaltender to fill the void left by junior Jake Oettinger, who has elected to move on to the Dallas Stars organization.
Oettinger patrolled the BU crease for the previous three seasons, and the Terriers understand that a graduate student would only serve as a temporary solution between the pipes. Within the program, O’Connell is confident that rising sophomore Vinnie Purpura is poised to make a long-term impact, whether it be this upcoming season or the next.
“He did a really good job,” O’Connell said regarding Purpura. “We expect him to have a good summer and push for the number one job.”
Another freshman from the 2018-19 team deserving of recognition is Joel Farabee. In his first and only season with BU, the now-Philadelphia Flyer led the team in goals (17) and points (36), and was recently named both the Hockey East Rookie of the Year and the Most Outstanding Freshman in NCAA Division I.
As O’Connell put it simply, “Joel had a terrific freshman year.”
Looking towards the fall, the central mission for the team appears to be creating an emphasis on teamwork and cohesiveness.
“We have the ability to have a good team if we become a team right away,” said O’Connell.
The trait of team unity on the ice was an attribute that O’Connell noted as a point of development among his team over the course of his first season in charge.
“At the start of the year, we had a lot of individuals. We had a lot of guys on their own page at times,” the coach said. “By the end of the year, we became a team – we played a team game. We weren’t worried about who was scoring, we were worried about winning. That’s what the program should be about.”
While the academic semester may be concluding, there will be no break for BU hockey, as the Terriers aim to prepare themselves as best they can before they take the ice against Union College to open the 2019-20 campaign.
“The new season is starting now,” said O’Connell. “We’re worried about pushing as hard as we can to start October when we go down to Union to play that first game.”
As the offseason progresses, stayed tuned for continued posts, articles, and podcasts by the Boston Hockey Blog at hockey.dailyfreepress.com and @BOSHockeyBlog on Twitter.