BU alums star throughout Stanley Cup Playoffs

Bonino struck gold in his first season with the Penguins. PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA

With head coach David Quinn navigating the Boston University men’s hockey team through a pressure-packed Hockey East schedule, it’s sometimes easy to lose track of Terrier stars of yore. And the 2015-16 NHL season was chalked full of them, with seven vying for hockey’s holy grail.

Attempting to end a nine-year Stanley Cup drought, the below former BU stars gave it their all throughout April, May and June, but only the Pittsburgh Penguins stood tall in the end. Check out the comprehensive list below to learn who joined Joe DiPenta as the last BU alum to hoist the Cup. He did so in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks; that’s right, the same team that boasted Teemu Selanne, Chris Pronger and the Niedermayer brothers.

It’s been a long time coming.

Nick Bonino – Pittsburgh Penguins

For the second time in eight years, Sidney Crosby and co. emerged as the last team standing. Their fans can thank their lucky stars that Bonino centered the ever-productive line featuring Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin. The center tallied four goals and 14 assists in the Penguin’s 24 playoff games this season. His 18 playoff points tie Chris Drury for most ever by a Terrier.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect on Bonino’s playoff run was that he came up in clutch situations, time and time again. For BU hockey fans – who will long remember how the center notched a goal and assist in the 2009 NCAA title game – it was like a trip down memory lane.

The first overtime zinger bounced the seemingly unstoppable Washington Capitals from the second round. It wasn’t the prettiest of finishes, but sometimes all it takes is being in the right place at the right time.


For most forwards, one game-winner in the playoffs is enough. Bonino would beg to differ. “Mr. Clutch” rose to the occasion again in the Stanley Cup Final’s opening game, this time firing a swift wrister past goaltender Martin Jones in the third period’s dying moments. Game, set, match. – JS

Matt Nieto – San Jose Sharks

Nieto may have missed eight games after suffering from an upper-body injury in the second round, but the left winger still managed to contribute to the Shark’s Stanley Cup run. A staple on the third line, Nieto’s efforts weren’t enough to stop Pittsburgh’s 4-2 series win.

His lone playoff goal came in Game 5 of the opening round against the Los Angeles Kings, when he stuffed in a rebound in the second period to give San Jose a dominating 3-0 lead.

Nieto, who led BU in goals (18) during his junior season in 2013, finished the regular season with 17 points. – NF

Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues

With youth aging like a fine wine, the Blues seemed poised for a deep playoff run. They accomplished just that, ultimately falling in a six-game Western Conference Finals series to the San Jose Sharks. Shattenkirk, a staple of BU’s 2009 national title-winning side, demonstrated guile and conviction as Stanley Cup dreams swelled.

The blueliner kept some of the NHL’s best and brightest – the least of which were Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars – relatively quiet, paving the way for consecutive seven-game series wins. True to his form, Shattenkirk also contributed offensively, chipping in two goals and nine assists. While Shattenkirk and the Blues fell short of their ultimate goal, their 2015-16 season was nothing to be ashamed of. – JS

Colin Wilson, Nashville Predators

Coming off a disappointing regular season, Wilson came alive in the playoffs, recording five goals and eight assists in 14 postseason games. The left wing scored a point in seven consecutive games, a new Nashville postseason record, and came through when his team needed him the most. His goal in the first period of Game 7 of the opening round versus the Ducks gave the Predators the early lead, and his three points in Game 4 of the second round against the Sharks helped tie the series at two apiece.

The 2009 USA Hockey College Player of the Year while at BU, Wilson led the Predators in playoff scoring, but his team fell to the Sharks in seven games. Wilson played for the Terriers for two years, winning a national championship under coach Jack Parker in 2009. – NF

Brian Strait, New York Islanders

A Terrier from 2006 to 2008, Strait did not get a chance to participate in the playoffs after suffering an upper-body injury in a game April 5. The Waltham native finished the year with 1 goal and 6 points in 53 games played. – NF

Charlie Coyle, MIN

After playing all 82 games for the Wild in the regular season, Coyle tallied a goal and an assist before Minnesota fell to top-seeded Dallas in six games. The 2011 Hockey East Rookie of the Year while on Commonwealth Avenue, the second-line center played over 112 minutes for the Wild in the series. – NF

Mike Sullivan, PIT head coach

The 2015-16 season was Sullivan’s first season at Pittsburgh’s helm, but he never truly looked out of his element. He officially was named head coach in December, and guided the Penguins to a dominant 16-8 record throughout the playoffs. With that vein of form in mind, as well as the bevy of talent at his disposal, it’s no surprise the 48-year-old won hockey’s biggest prize.

Offering a calm presence behind the bench, Sullivan remained humble every step of the way.

A four-year forward while at BU, Sullivan wrapped up his scarlet-and-white career with 138 career points. – JS

Charlie Coyle happy to be back at BU for Comm Ave Charity Classic

It’s been three-and-a-half years since Charlie Coyle left the Boston University men’s hockey team midseason to pursue his professional career, but it doesn’t change how much his time at BU meant to him.

“Everyone has their own path, the way they want to go,” he said. “That’s the path I chose, and I enjoyed my time here. It was awesome, it was my dream school to come here, and the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do was to leave here.”

Growing up in Weymouth, Coyle watched a few games at Walter Brown Arena and dreamed of suiting up for the Terriers. He never hit the ice in the historic rink for a game during his collegiate career, but he got the chance to in the first annual Comm Ave Charity Classic to benefit Compassionate Care ALS on Friday night.

Coyle, along with 17 other BU alums, 18 Boston College alums and a few special guests, took part in a game that pitted old rivals against each other to help raise awareness and over $55,000 for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

“You want to help out as much as you can, so I think when every guy got the text, they wanted to play today, kind of jumped at the opportunity and they’re happy to do it,” Coyle said.

The Minnesota Wild forward netted a hat trick in the process and guided BU to a 7-5 win over the Eagles. And though the game was just for fun, Coyle said the intensity of the BC-BU rivalry never wanes.

“I think it goes as long as you live,” Coyle said. “You see those guys wherever you go in life, and you always come back to BC-BU … Everyone kind of knows each other, but once you’re on the ice and you’re playing, BC-BU, it’s a whole different story and it’s just a huge rivalry. It’s competitive, and that’s what makes it such a cool tradition, so I was fortunate to be a part of it and be part of it again tonight.”

He also reiterated just how much being a member of the Terriers contributed to him becoming the player and professional he is today.

“Coming to BU helped me tremendously,” Coyle said. “Like I said, it’s where I wanted to go, where I wanted to come my whole life and being here, being coached by Jack Parker and playing with some of these guys behind me, it was awesome. I made a lot of friends, became a better player and it’s helped me at the professional level. Work outs … everything, everything, the school, just everything.”

Scott Young feels not so young

For BU, roster spots on Friday night weren’t as readily filled with current NHL talent as those of its BC counterparts. Some had a prior commitment, as former Terrier Brandon Yip’s wedding is this weekend.

But what the scarlet and white lacked in that area, they made up for with veteran talent, including the likes of former BU standout and ex-NHLer Scott Young.

Currently the Director of Hockey Operations for the Terriers, Young won the Stanley Cup on two occasions — once with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and again with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. He also donned the red, white and blue for Team USA in three Olympic Games and served as the head coach of St. Marks School in Southborough from 2010 until he returned to BU in 2014. The forward has collected various other accolades in his hockey career, including Hockey East Rookie of the Year in 1986, and racked up 756 career points in 1,186 NHL games.

It seems even after all this time, Young’s still got it.

“Young was the best guy on the ice,” said former BU goaltender Anthony Moccia after his team’s win. “He was talking before, about all, ‘oh, I’m out of shape’ — yeah, right, Coach!”

At one point in the game Friday, Young was exiting the defensive zone and a teammate tried to get the puck up to him to start a rush.

“He tried to lob it over my shoulder, and I ducked so it could land in front of me and I could skate into it,” Young said. “It landed on my shoulder, and kind of hung there for a little bit. It was kind of awkward.”