Jay Pandolfo came into the May 9 introductory press conference and said all the right things as the next head coach of Boston University hockey.
In the months since the season ended, the team and fanbase alike have had plenty of time to stew over a disappointing end to an up-and-down year. Pandolfo’s message was exactly what the two groups needed to get fired up for the return of competitive Terrier hockey.
“The BU hockey program isn’t broken,” Pandolfo said. “What we need to do is everything just a little bit better. BU hockey to me is about commitment, it’s about attitude, attention to detail, holding ourselves and each other accountable on and off the ice.”
It’s this mentality that Athletic Director Drew Marrochello was in search of to fill the vacancy of one of the university’s and college hockey world’s top-tier positions.
“We were simply looking for a great leader,” Marrochello said in the press conference. “Being on the outside of the NCAA tournament is simply not good enough for us (…) This is a program that’s defined by Frozen Four appearances and national championships and that continues to be our goal.”
Both Pandolfo and Marrochello’s sentiments echo what has been splashed across Twitter and comment sections by the BU faithful –– the program has high expectations and a rich tradition of greatness to uphold in the present day.
“You can’t rely on history to win you games,” Marrochello said. “It’s not about pictures on the wall, it’s about what are you known for, what’s your identity, what do you carry forward from that history.”
This was spot on. The Terriers will always be a name in college hockey, but for what reason? Because of Jack Parker’s legacy? Because of the 2009 comeback national championship? What about because the 2022-2023 roster shifted the tide of the program.
This current team needs to –– and I believe will –– make their mark in BU history and show, through their play, what wearing that scarlett and white sweater represents. They’ve got the Beanpot, but now it’s time to come together and culminate their hard work into one cohesive and productive season. Pandolfo is the right guy to spearhead this initiative.
“I want to make the former players proud of the way we play and compete every time we step on the ice and how we act off the ice,” Pandolfo said. “We’re going to have high expectations, so we have to have high standards. The central theme of this program is to compete at everything we do –– everything matters.”
The commitment from the team has made this transition that much more exciting. Marrochello said he felt he could take his time and be thorough in the hiring process because of the leadership group’s assurance they weren’t leaving Comm. Ave.
“We were all in since day one, since I’ve been here –– I know the same with them,” captain and senior defenseman Domenick Fensore said in the press conference. “We love this school, we love this program and we have goals to accomplish.”
This type of buy-in is exactly what you want to see. The senior class makes up almost half the roster as it is now, and will play a pivotal role in Terriers’ future success. Knowing they want to stay and want to win greatly affects the culture in that locker room.
Pandolfo skated for all four years at BU, and in preparation for his new position, emphasized the importance of the developmental composition of the team, Marrochello said. The NHL flight risk has been a reoccurring discussion around this group, but it sounds like Pandolfo and Marrochello want a change.
“We’re going to recruit guys who BU means something to them –– it’s not just a stopover,” Marrochello said.
It all ties back to the commitment to excellence, and I think the Terriers have a solid handful of guys to look towards as next season approaches –– including newly minted captain Fensore. His mindset is all around hard work and doing whatever it takes to win, he said, and they’re all for Pandolfo.
“Everytime he was talking, everyone just gravitated towards him because he’s got so much knowledge about the game and you can see the passion he has for the game,” Fensore said. “I think he’s going to do an amazing job as head coach.”
I left that press conference ready to run through a wall, rejuvenated with a new excitement for what next season may hold. There was an energy in that room that made you want to skip summer and get right back into the seats at Agganis with the band blaring “I’m Shipping up to Boston.”
Of course, what’s said in a press conference and what’s actually executed on the ice can differ, but Pandolfo seems to have the team’s respect and a plan for elevating Terrier hockey. Now the countdown to October officially begins.
“My vision is to be here as long as I can and hopefully have success while I’m doing it,” Pandolfo said. “This is where I want to be for a long time.”