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 BU Hockey program isn’t broken,” said new bench boss Jay Pandolfo, 1996 Boston University graduate, in his inaugural press conference to media, fans, and players on May 9. “What we need to do is everything just a little bit better.”
The Boston University Men’s Ice Hockey team will turn over a new leaf as they enter into the 101st season with a new head coach. The 13th person to hold that title in over 100 years, the Terrier alum will bring valuable perspective and experience to a program that is looking to restore itself to what it once was.
After an underwhelming 19-13-3 record to cap off the 2021-22 season, Director of Athletics Drew Marrochello commented on the prestigious nature of the program and the lackluster results of recent years.
“Being on the outside of the NCAA Tournament is simply not good enough for us. Losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament is not good enough for us,” Marrochello announced during a press conference. “This is a program that’s defined by Frozen Four appearances and National Championships. That continues to be our goal.”
Pandolfo will join an impressive list of former leaders of the program headed by 40-year BU head coach Jack Parker. Parker is the winningest coach in BU history and holds the record for most wins with one university. His record of 897-472-115 includes 21 Beanpot titles, 11 Conference wins, and three national championships.
Following Parker’s retirement, David Quinn took the reins as head coach for just five years, during which he led the Terriers to the NCAA tournament four times. In 2018, Quinn was offered a position in the New York Rangers organization, and took the head coaching role in the NHL. After being relieved from the Rangers, Quinn was named the eleventh coach of the San Jose Sharks, alongside current general manager and former Terrier Mike Grier.
Most recently, BU had been led by Albie O’Connell. A native of Watertown, Massachusetts, he coached the Terriers to the NCAA Regional Semifinal once in 2021 and had a 58-49-16 record. While O’Connell’s coaching record surpassed the .500 winning percentage mark, the standard for BU Hockey remains higher than the results delivered. By March 30, the Athletics Department concluded that in order for the program to achieve its goals, new leadership would be required.
“After the conclusion of our regular year-end assessment, we believe that a new direction is needed for our program to achieve our goals,” Marrochello remarked.
When it came time to pick a new leader of the program, Marrochello and the hiring committee spoke with former coaches, players, and the team’s current leadership group captained by senior Domenick Fensore. Throughout the process, Marrochello heard common themes of integrity, consistency, and character when it came to Pandolfo.
A native of Burlington, Massachusetts, Pandolfo is no stranger to BU Hockey. During his four years in the Terrier jersey he totaled 169 points, finished as runner-up for the 1996 Hobey Baker Award for top NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey player, was a 1996 AHCA First-Team All-American, and in 2001 was inducted into the BU Athletic Hall of Fame. In addition to the individual accolades, Pandolfo helped lead the Terriers to four Frozen Fours, two Beanpot Championships, two Hockey East Titles, and the 1995 National Championship.
Following his success at BU, Pandolfo went on to play professionally for 15 years, spending 13 with the New Jersey Devils and winning two Stanley Cups in 2000 and 2003. During his tenure in the pros, Pandolfo was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy awarded annually to the top NHL forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game.
Pandolfo’s time with the Devils was appreciated by fans and players alike.
“We won two Stanley Cups because of guys like him,” Marrochello said. “Great character and a team first mentality. He understands the roles of all team members, and respects what all players can do, not just superstars.”
In 2010, the Devils placed Pandolfo on waivers and bought out his contract. He spent the 2011 season with the New York Islanders and then spent the last year of his career with the hometown Boston Bruins before announcing his retirement in 2014.
Once retired, Pandolfo joined the Bruins staff as an assistant coach. He spent five years behind the bench and led the team to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs four years in a row, including a trip to game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2019.
In addition to his assistant coaching career, Pandolfo worked as a player development coach for the Bruins alongside new Terrier assistant coach Kim Brandvold. Brandvold, who worked as the skating and skills coach with the Bruins, helped develop former BU defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelyck at the professional level and will translate those skills in his transition from Warrior Ice Arena to Agganis Arena this season.
“Kim and I have just had a good relationship,” the head coach said of his colleague. “I went to see if he’d want to come here and help us here, and I think for him it’s a new challenge and I think he’s obviously excited about it and I’m obviously really lucky to have him.”
With Brandvold, Pandolfo also brought back former Terrier and national champion Joe Pereira, a 2011 graduate, as associate head coach. Pereira spent the past nine seasons at the University of Connecticut in the same role and will join Pandolfo as part of the 2022 coaching staff.
“Joe was obviously the first guy I went to go get,” Pandolfo noted. “He’s a former captain at Boston University. He knows what the expectations are here. He won a national championship here. So he checked a lot of boxes, and he really does have a passion for BU Hockey, so I couldn’t be luckier to have these guys here with me.”
In addition to Pereira, Pandolfo is continuing the BU and Boston Bruins pipeline by introducing Kim Brandvold as an assistant coach. Brandvold worked as a skating and skills coach with the Bruins.
With both Pereira and Brandvold joining the leadership group, it’s clear that Pandolfo is taking the team in a new direction.
“BU hockey to me, it’s about commitment,” Pandolfo said. “It’s about attitude, attention to detail, holding ourselves and each other accountable. On and off the ice. We’re going to have high expectations. So we have to have high standards.”
Once one of the top programs in college hockey, the Terriers have struggled with their identity in recent years. Pandolfo is a Terrier through and through and is raising the expectations for BU Men’s Hockey once again.