Boston University sees shades of 2009 in run to Hockey East title

Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor checks out the inside of the Lamoriello Trophy (photo: Melissa Wade).

BOSTON — When Boston University defeated Massachusetts-Lowell 5-3 to win the 2015 Hockey East tournament, it added one more parallel between this year’s Terriers and those from 2009, the last time that BU ran the table en route to a national championship.

This year, the Terriers won the Beanpot for the time since 2009. Both editions defeated Northeastern in the championship game.

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This year, the Terriers won the Hockey East regular season for the first time since 2009.

And now this year, the Terriers have won the Hockey East championship for the first time since 2009. Both times, the title came through Lowell.

“There are some similarities up to this point,” BU coach David Quinn said. Quinn knows whereof he speaks. He served as associate coach on the 2009 team, then left for the pros until returning last year to replace legendary coach Jack Parker.

“We’ve got karma, we’ve done a great job being a team, we have great leadership and we have great goaltending. Our D corps is very good. It’s a younger D corps than the ’09 D corps, but all of them can play.

“We had a lot of depth up front on that ’09 team. We have depth on this team. I don’t think we score as easily as that ’09 team did, but we can score goals.”

In point of fact, both the 2009 and 2015 Terriers led the country in scoring, and finished with the nation’s second-best power play. Both were led by young stars up front: sophomore Colin Wilson in 2009 (second in the country in scoring), and freshman Jack Eichel this season (first in the country).

“We have stars, but you don’t win with just stars,” Quinn said. “You win with everybody on the roaster, everybody within your program.

“We are a true team. This was [the result of] a lot of hard work. We’ve got a lot more work ahead of us, but we’re going to enjoy this.

“I couldn’t be happier for everybody associated with our team. After what we all went through last year, they would not be denied.”

Ah yes, last year.

Since 2009, there had been a pronounced trophy drought for the BU Terriers. No Beanpots. No Hockey East titles, regular season or tournament. Only one trip to the NCAA tournament, and that a one-and-done quick exit.

But until last year, those teams were very good, just not quite good enough.

“Coming to BU, [winning trophies] is something you definitely expect,” Matt Grzelcyk said. “The past few years, we haven’t been able to achieve it.”

Last season, however, the bottom fell out. BU fell to an unthinkable ninth place in Hockey East (and a distant ninth place, it was) and 10-21-4 overall.

Were BU’s glory days over? Quinn was sure they weren’t, that last season was an aberration.

“We had a good core coming back, and we knew that with the class coming in we were going to be a much better hockey team,” Quinn said. “How much better, I didn’t know. What our record was going to be, I didn’t know.”

Pretty soon, however, Quinn got an inkling of how good a team he just might have.

“Three weeks into September, we felt as a staff that if things went well we had a chance at a national title,” Quinn said. “That might have sounded absurd based on what happened last year, but we really felt that and we told the team.

“After the Michigan, Michigan State weekend [three weeks into the season], they started believing it.”

The team never stopped believing. Now, the Terriers have won their second major title and have wrapped up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

“We are literally the youngest team in college hockey,” Quinn said. “That sometimes gets lost in the success we’ve had up to this point. That speaks volumes about our leadership, and I’m not just talking about our seniors.

“But am I surprised? No, I’m not.”

There is, of course, the final parallel to be drawn with the 2009 team. A national championship.

The 2009 edition accomplished that in spectacular fashion, coming back from a two-goal deficit with less than a minute remaining in regulation to force overtime. At 11:47 of OT, the Terriers completed a magical season in which they won everything in sight.

With this year’s Frozen Four in Boston, the Terriers will get their chance to draw that final parallel on the same TD Garden ice where they’ve already won this year’s Beanpot and Hockey East titles.

Will they complete the hat trick of Garden titles?

Don’t bet against them.