Originally written for the Daily Free Press “Hockey Edition” in September 2021. Excerpts have been edited for clarity and brevity.
In anticipation of the 100th season of Boston University Men’s Hockey, we sat down with Terrier legends Mike Eruzione (Wheelock ‘77), Matt Gilroy (CAS ‘09), and Colby Cohen (CAS ‘10) to hear about what it really means to wear a Terrier on your chest and play for one of the most renowned programs in college hockey.
Gilroy remains one of the top four-year players at BU, earning every trophy and award college hockey has to offer. In his senior year, he was named captain of the Terriers and helped lead the Terriers to a 35-6-4 record in 2008-09, winning the Beanpot, the Hockey East regular-season trophy, the Hockey East tournament, the National Championship, and ultimately, the award for best player in college hockey, the Hobey Baker Award.
Cohen joined the Terriers in 2007 where he played in 39 of the 40 contests as a freshman, where he finished third in points among Hockey East rookie defensemen. In his sophomore year, he carried the Terriers to their fifth national championship, scoring the overtime game-winning goal against the Miami Redhawks in 2009, completing the Terriers 3-1 deficit heading from the start of the third period. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Frozen Four and was named to the All-Tournament team before returning for his third and final year at BU.
Can you describe your years as a player?
Mike Eruzione (ME): “It was unbelievable. We played in Walter Brown, basically sold out every game we played and you’ve been to Walter Brown, and it was so deafening and loud in there with that tin ceiling. I think in my four years at BU, I think we only lost maybe three games at home. It was such an advantage playing at home and I played with great players, clearly, when I was here… You came here with the expectation of winning Beanpots and winning Eastern ECAC championships and tournament games and things like that.”
Matt Gilroy (MG): “My career view is pretty unique, starting as a walk-on, and then finishing the way I finished but I think I’ve always fell in love with the BU’s hockey tradition and the history of it and the excellence of the program and then once you get there and you become a part of it, you just become obsessed with it and all you want to do is win there. And my senior year we were able to. I think we won everything, and the way to go out, to be winners like we were, and… all my teammates, we’re still close friends, we get to see each other, we get to talk about that year of winning and our history of BU and it’s just pretty special.”
Colby Cohen (CC): “It was the best three years of my entire life… Being at BU was incredible. The social aspect was incredible. We had so much fun… You’re living with your best friends, and you get to play hockey every single day and you don’t have to worry about the real world because we’re college kids so it’s not like we’re having to get jobs and worry about paying rent on our apartments. You just, you get to go there and focus on being a hockey player, and you get treated so well… Our equipment staff with Mike DiMella and our training staff with Larry Venis, and our strength and conditioning staff with Mike Boyle, like those guys treated us as good as any players in the NHL get treated, and our coaching staff was great. I had an unbelievably good relationship with all three coaches, and I still have good relationships with all three coaches.”
If you could pick one moment to really define your BU experience, what would it be?
ME: “Against Vermont, I became the all time leading scorer at Boston University. And I knew it was going to be passed by someone at some point, and it turned out to be my roommate Rick Meagher [who] was probably, arguably, the best hockey player ever to play with me- three time All American. But I remember that being a special moment, because I had the record for a little while, almost, almost a whole year actually. Then Ricky broke at the end, the next the last game of our last year, we were both tied going into the last game, it was a consolation game against UNH in the national championship and Rick got two points in the game and I didn’t get any. And he beat me by two points.”
MG: “My first game ever at BU, we played the USA team, and I had sat, I don’t know how many games, I can’t remember how many games that I sat, I think I sat three or four, and then coach [Jack] Parker put me in the lineup, and after that I never came out of the lineup. I think I started a lot of games, almost every game, after that. And I played with some great players Dan Spang, Sean Sullivan, Brian Strait. And, you know, if I never went to BU and I never got that opportunity, I don’t think I would ever played in the Pros or had such a great success in hockey and I thank the coaching staff at BU for everything they’ve done for me as a hockey player and then as a person, it’s, I’ve definitely have a special connection to those coaches Parker, [David] Quinn, and [Mike] Bavis. What they did for me changed my life.”
CC: “Winning the championship was incredible. I was the lucky one who scored. But winning that game. I’ll never forget when [Nick] Bonino scored to tie the game, what that was like, I was on the bench for that goal because Matt Gilroy and [David] Warsofsky were on the ice. And that moment was so unbelievable- I remember that moment so vividly. I don’t remember when I scored as well, but I remember when Bonino scored and the bench just erupted… It was something that certainly will be hard to ever replicate a moment like that in my life ever.”
Out of your years in a BU jersey, which team or year was your favorite?
ME: “Jack [Parker] always said the best teams are the ones that won the national championship so I have to say those teams that won national championships, but I thought my junior year, we were loaded. We were really, really good and I think we set records for goals scored… I’m just gonna stick by Jack’s guide, the teams that were the best were the ones that won the national championship.”
MG: “My senior year, I mean, my classmates and I, we won every championship, the individual awards, we won them all, and then to be a part of that elite group that says you get to win your last college hockey game as a national champion is pretty special. You know playing BU hockey is amazing, but winning at BU is even better.”
CC: “That team (2008-09) was so fun because we were so good, and there were a lot of really great players on that team. Gilroy wins the Hobey Baker, Colin [Wilson] could have won the Hobey Baker. We just had so much fun on the ice, we had so much fun off the ice. That year was just the best because we had such a great team on team, great team. We had good captains that year… [Gilroy] was our captain, he led the way, him and Johnny Mack, John McCarthy, we kind of followed suit. Those guys brought it every night and the rest of the guys followed it.”
If you could define the whole BU hockey program in a few words or moments, which ones would they be?
ME: “Well I’d like to think it’s still family. I still think, to put a Terrier on your chest, that is something that’s special… The players realize how important– how special it is– to come here and play here. That’s the thing for me, is that the players understand how special it is to come here and play here, because our family’s important, our alumni care about BU hockey… This is what we pride ourselves on. That to me, the history of the school, the history of the type of players that played here, not just the, you know, the Eichels, the Amontes, or the Tkachuks, but the Travis Roys.”
MG: “If you go to Agganis, you walk around, and you see the Olympians, you see the NHLers, and you see the teams that have won there, how much success they’ve had over the years and I think BU hockey, when you think of it, you think of success, and when you look at all those guys that have come through that door and have worn the jersey, It’s a special place to be and I, I hope that every kid that puts on that jersey feels the same way I did about the tradition and excellence of the program.”
CC: “Winning a championship, that’s why you do it. So when you’re able to do it… We had some skill, we created a lot of luck, but overall, that year was [something special].
What do you want the rest of the community to know about this program?
ME: “How important the program is to players, and how important Boston University is to our program. We’re an extension of the university. You know we represent Boston University and Boston University hockey but when all things come into play, you’re recruited, you still have to get in, and you have to be a student athlete here… I think the officials here realize how important Boston University Hockey is and… I represent the university and I feel very proud about it because it’s done so many things for me, and I think our players feel the same way, clearly about our hockey program but about the school itself.”
MG: “I mean it’s special. It’s the big sport on campus. Everyone comes to the games. You have a big responsibility to represent yourself, your university, the people who came before you and when you get to skate every Friday or Saturday night at Agganis, and then you get to play in Beanpots and national championships. It’s just so special and to do it for your school, the history of the program… It’s just every night you put that [Jersey] on, you feel it.”
CC: “It’s not even just about wins and losses. I think BU is supposed to set the standard for college hockey, or be one of the few schools that sets the bar… I’m so happy to see Jay Pandolfo back at BU and hopefully [see him] bring a culture back to BU… I hope other players get to have the experience that I had because it was just, it was awesome. It really was, it was, it was awesome.”