At this point, there’s just one thing left for Matt Gilroy to accomplish, and he’ll have that opportunity Saturday night.
Gilroy, a senior defenseman for Boston University, was named the 2009 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Friday night at the Verizon Center, beating out Northeastern’s Brad Thiessen and teammate Colin Wilson.
In a season that has seen the Terriers capture almost every tournament and honor in sight, Gilroy has seemed prescient in turning down a pro contract after his junior season to return for one more year with Boston University, especially after a junior year that saw the Terriers struggle and fail to make the postseason.
“I think the disappointment (from last season) was part of the reason to come back,” said Gilroy. “Having a chance to stay, be the captain, play with my brother, Colin came back, it’s been a really fun ride.”
Gilroy certainly has the numbers to back it up. Gilroy scored 36 points this season, leading all Hockey East defensemen in scoring.
Besides his productivity on the blue line, Gilroy was named to the All-Tournament Team and Tournament MVP at the Denver Cup, the All Tournament Team at the Hockey East Tournament, and the All Tournament Team at the Northeast Regional.
Gilroy also was the first defenseman to be named a First Team Hockey East all-star three years, and was named a first team All-American, his third All-American selection.
This season marked the first time that the Hobey “Hat Trick” finalists all came from the same conference, and only the second time that two players from the same team were named to the final three. Wilson and Gilroy were both quick to praise each other in the post-ceremony press conference.
“We were wishing each other luck before,” said Wilson. “We said we had to make sure to mention the other in the speech if we won.”
“Look at our team,” added Gilroy. “If not for him and the rest of the team, I wouldn’t have been there. Everyone is having the best year of their career.”
Gilroy became the second Terrier to win the award; Chris Drury took the honor in 1998.
Gilroy, who grew up in North Bellmore, N.Y., and originally played forward, transitioned to defense as part of his move to college hockey. Gilroy thought his career was over after juniors, as he was passed over by every Division I program in the country, and started his career at BU as a walk-on.
The presentation ceremony itself was a light-hearted affair. Gilroy and Wilson started the evening in one penalty box, with Thiessen in the other, and came out after their names were announced.
Wilson and Gilroy joked about nerves beforehand with their Terriers teammates in the stands to cheer them on. The Terriers pep band was in the stands and played an interesting array of rock tunes during the commercial breaks, including Green Day’s “Holiday.”
Wilson’s mom got laughs from the crowd while talking about being a goalie for one-year old Colin in her PJs, and both mentioned Colin’s father Carey, who is back home in Winnipeg worrying about the possible flooding of the Red River, where the family’s home is located.
Thiessen found himself in the unusual position of winning his conference’s Player of the Year Award and then losing out the Hobey Baker award to another player in the conference. Gilroy’s contributions in the NCAA regionals may have boosted him over Thiessen, whose team had a great season end in bitter disappointment with a first-round exit to Cornell.
Asked to put winning the award in the context of what has been a dream season for the Terriers, Gilroy was quick to point out that it’s not a dream season yet.
“Ask me that after Saturday,” he said.
Just one more accomplishment to go.