When people talk about Boston University’s superior talent, the objects of their affection are the same names over and over.
Colin Wilson and Matt Gilroy, the Hobey Baker Hat Trick Duo.
Wilson and Nick Bonino, the two dominant centers and leading scorers who anchor the Terriers’ “two number-one lines.”
Kieran Millan, the freshman goaltender who not only won the Hockey East Rookie of the Year award but was also named second team all-league, Hockey East Tournament MVP, and a member of the NCAA Northeast Regional All-Tournament Team.
Then there’s Gilroy, Brian Strait, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Warsofsky, Colby Cohen, and Eric Gryba — the six blueliners who make up what BU coach Jack Parker has called “maybe the best six defensemen I’ve ever coached.”
The list of BU’s stars is long and impressive.
Yet it’s also missing one name, at times overshadowed by the many other luminaries on the BU roster despite being Hockey East’s leading active career scorer with 128 points and its number five scorer this year with 43 points.
The name of that quiet star?
“He’s always been the guy that everyone has known is really good but weren’t going to vote for him for All-American,” BU coach Jack Parker said after Higgins led the Terriers with a goal and three assists in a comeback win over Vermont in the Frozen Four semifinals. “Unfortunately for him, someone has been just a little bit better or had a few more points. But he’s had a terrific career, not just a terrific senior year. And if he hadn’t hurt his hand, he would have had an unbelievable senior year.”
Higgins doesn’t mind the attention paid to all the other BU stars, sometimes at his expense.
“That’s fine with me,” he said. “It’s not about individual success. They’re great players and deserve everything they’ve gotten.
“For me, it’s all about the team. Whatever it takes to win a national championship, that’s what I’ll do.”
With the Terriers two games away from that championship, Higgins put on a playmaking clinic to get them within one. After a quiet assist on BU’s first goal, he collaborated with Jason Lawrence on a give-and-go, drawing both the goaltender and the defenseman to himself before passing across to Lawrence, who had acres of open net to put it in.
“He sees the ice so well,” Lawrence said. “He’s such an outstanding playmaker. It’s pretty much: get open and he’ll find you.”
That ability led Wilson to pay Higgins the highest of compliments when considering the option of turning pro last offseason.
Parker recalled, “One of the things Wilson asked was, ‘Can I play with Higgins next year?'”
Parker put Higgins, Wilson, and Lawrence together at the beginning of the season and has left them together. Small wonder. The unit has produced in a big way, though in no more vital a circumstance than the Frozen Four semifinal.
Trailing 4-3 with seven minutes left in regulation, Higgins scored the tying goal when his backdoor pass to Lawrence caromed in off a Vermont defenseman. Little more than a minute later, Wilson buried a rebound of a Higgins shot for the game-winner.
“Big-time players make big-time plays,” Parker said. “That line was fabulous tonight.”
With four of the five BU goals, who could argue?
“Our line wouldn’t be the same line without him,” Wilson said. “He’s a great playmaker, as [everyone] saw today. When he’s really on, he’s making those great plays to Jason Lawrence backdoor and getting it to the net. He really looks out for the puck and he can dangle in there, too.
“[He’s] a great player.”
Of that there can be no doubt.