This article is part of the 2022-2023 printed “Hockey Edition” that will be available on campus Friday, Sept. 30 and at both men’s and women’s opening nights. Be sure to get your copy!
The Boston University men’s hockey team is coming into the 2022-2023 season with a veteran squad hungry for trophies. This year’s roster boasts ten seniors, all of whom have become an integral part of the Terrier identity as they head into their fourth year of collegiate hockey. In their final run in scarlet and white, these senior players have the opportunity to make it count.
“We have guys that have been here for three, four years now and we’ve had some success, we’ve had some failure and now it’s our last kick at the can at it as a group,” senior forward Ethan Phillips said. “Especially as the seniors, we’re tight, so it’s very exciting and we’re happy to have everybody here.”
Let’s list them all out: Domenick Fensore, Jay O’Brien, Case McCarthy, Ethan Phillips, Matt Brown, John Copeland, Sean Drsiscoll, Sam Stevens, Jamie Armstrong and Wilmer Skoog. A lot of names, right? The group makes up 35% of the team’s active roster and has been responsible for much of the past season’s successes.
In the 2021-2022 campaign, BU’s top six players in points were all members of this year’s senior class. Guys like Fensore, O’Brien, Phillips, Brown and Skoog grew up last season and became reliable leaders on the ice with growing confidence and experience to add to their resumes. Now it’s time to take it up a notch.
“Winning the Beanpot was great, but we’ve got way more to prove,” senior forward Jay O’Brien said. “We knew we had the right pieces to do it, just an incredible coaching staff to kind of guide us.”
BU, and college hockey in general, has been witness to the much-discussed storyline of the “one and done” player since the NHL has become increasingly young. For example, Trevor Zegras left Comm Ave after his freshman season with the Terriers to find stardom in the big leagues with the Anaheim Ducks. While an NHL lineup spot is the ultimate goal for these athletes, a four-year collegiate career offers invaluable development –– both physically and mentally –– for the budding professionals.
Following last season’s conclusion, there were questions around the senior class’ next stop. A majority of these guys could’ve gone pro and take the leap to either the AHL or NHL after their junior year. But none of them did –– this holds tremendous weight for the mood inside the that BU locker room.
“It speaks to how much we care about this program, how much we care about this university,” O’Brien said. “A bunch of us kind of sat down at the end of the year and felt like we had a lot of unfinished business here at BU and the bottom line is we just weren’t done yet –– we want to make a mark here.”
The veteran Terriers sent a message to not only their teammates, but to the BU faithful as well; they’re not going anywhere. Their unwavering commitment to the program –– paired with the coaching change –– brings a new energy to the squad and shows dedication to excellence in representing this historic organization. The last time BU had close to as many seniors as this year’s roster was in 2007-2008 with nine. The ten seniors are here for a reason.
It’s undisputed that the 2022 Beanpot Championship title win will forever be part of BU hockey history; that lineup made its mark, and the Terriers showed they were true competitors. But there’s more to win given this team’s capabilities. BU has been booted from the first round of the Hockey East playoffs for two consecutive years and had a quick exit in the 2020-2021 NCAA tournament, while not receiving a bid last season.
Conference and national titles remain a goal, and somewhat of an expectation, for Terrier hockey. This senior group will have one last go at making those hopes a reality –– this could be the roster that puts all the pieces together. The 2022-2023 team is the fullest-form, most competitive group BU has had since pre-pandemic and it’s time to take advantage of that.
“Obviously we have goals for trophies, we want to win Hockey East, we want to win the Beanpot, we want to be national champions –– that’s a goal that we’ve had since freshman year and we feel like we’re so close to it,” Phillips said. “But also one of our goals is to leave the program better than how we found it.”
What also comes with a veteran team is having to bid farewell to some standout Terriers come May. This will be the largest class BU has had graduate in over ten years, leaving a lot of shoes –– or skates –– to fill. While last year’s departures of Logan Cockerill, Ty Amonte, Joseph Campolieto and graduate student Max Kaufman were an adjustment, they didn’t punch as drastic of a hole in the squad’s upcoming roster.
It’s the reality –– and also the beauty –– of college hockey. These athletes get four years to either strive for or reach greatness, and then it’s done. What’s comforting is that BU also has strength in their younger guys and recently gave letters to Drew Commesso and Luke Tuch as assistant captains. Pulling junior players into the core leadership crew will hopefully ease the transition and give a louder voice to the next class of Terriers to guide the team.
Apart from the assigned leadership roles, BU has talent up and down the ice. Junior forward Dylan Peterson and sophomore defenseman Ty Gallagher both showed notable seasons in 2021-2022, stepping up in big moments when, –– at times, –– the veterans couldn’t. Peterson was the last minute hero in the Beanpot title game and Gallagher was named to the Hockey East All- Rookie Team, to give two examples.
“Everybody on this team can lead in their own ways whether you’re a 19-year-old or you’re the oldest guy on the team at 23,” O’Brien said. “Everybody has their kind of different ways of doing that and I think that’s what makes this team unique.”
Focusing in on the 36 games that lay ahead, a redemption season is somewhat forming. The Terriers found their groove just a little too late last year to reach the heights every college hockey player dreams of. Their legitimacy was questioned throughout the 2021-2022 campaign, and now, with a clean slate and ten seniors, it’s time to rewrite the narrative.
“We all love this place so much and we want to win here and, like I said, make our mark here and be remembered here forever,” O’Brien said. “That’s why we stayed, that’s what we’re here to do, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”