Forward looks to come into his own in final collegiate season
In his first three years at Boston University, Corey Trivino made a name for himself on campus.
There is the innocuous – a trademark fauxhawk that is consistently gelled to perfection – and the more objectionable – the clouds of scandal that almost cost Trivino his BU career at the end of his sophomore season.
But beyond those perceptions lies the real Corey Trivino – a talented college hockey player trying to make his mark with one of the best teams in Hockey East.
The dark-haired 21-year-old has been playing hockey for most of his life, but he has not always enjoyed it.
“I hated skating lessons when I was little,” Trivino said. “I cried the whole time I was on the ice. [The coaches] told my mom to leave the stands or else I wouldn’t do anything.”
But once Trivino scored his first goal, he fell in love with the sport.
Trivino grew up in Toronto where most young hockey players develop through the urging of their fathers. But his passion for hockey came from his mother since his father, Hugo Trivino, is a native Argentinian who is devoted to soccer more than the foreign sport on skates. A younger Corey played both hockey and soccer until he turned 16 and had to decide between the two.
“I enjoy playing soccer, but I decided that hockey would give me a better future,” Trivino said. “When I decided to play hockey, my dad was heartbroken but he got over it and he loves hockey now. Well, he loves watching me play hockey.”
After deciding to pursue hockey, Trivino joined the Stouffville Spirit of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League. The forward totaled 65 points (25 goals, 40 assists) in his rookie campaign en route to capturing the OPJHL Co-Rookie of the Year award. In his second season with the Spirit, Trivino put up an astounding 91 points (24 goals, 67 assists) in 54 games.
His performance in juniors etched him toward the top of NHL draft lists, and Trivino reached a new high in his hockey career when he was drafted by the New York Islanders in the second round, 36th overall, of the 2008 NHL draft.
Trivino was 18 years old and newly drafted when he arrived in Boston for his first season as a Terrier. He was part of a talented freshmen class that included four other players (Andrew Glass, Grant Rollheiser, Vinny Saponari and David Warsofsky) who had already been drafted.
As the highest-drafted freshman on the team, Trivino was supposed to headline the newest Terrier forwards. But just four games into the season, Trivino went down with a knee injury and missed a month of action.
“I think watching the team practice when you’re not practicing and gaining that experience, especially as a freshman, it was tough,” Trivino said. “Adjusting to the college game, you have to take it to another level that you have to commit to.
“The decisions that you have to make on the ice are a little bit faster. Just not being able to adapt because you’re sitting on the sideline kind of put me back a little bit.”
Trivino returned to the lineup in late November as the center on a freshman line that featured Chris Connolly and Vinny Saponari as his wings. Trivino scored his first collegiate goal in just his third game back, a 3-1 win at BC on Dec. 6.
Although the Toronto native was back on the ice, he struggled to regain the scoring prowess from juniors that propelled him to the top of draft lists. In February, Trivino missed a few games with a shoulder injury and was a healthy scratch toward the end of the month.
By the time the Terriers reached the national tournament, Trivino became a key part of the offense. He scored goals in both of BU’s wins in the NCAA regionals in Manchester, N.H., including the game-winner in BU’s 8-2 drubbing of Ohio State University. In the national championship game, it was the freshmen line that was on the ice in overtime when defenseman Colby Cohen scored the game-winning goal.
“I remember we were looking at each other and we were like, ‘Man, if we go on the ice, we cannot lose it for the team. It cannot be our fault,’” Trivino said. “We went out there and had to kind of make sure we did everything possible to keep the pressure on them. Thankfully a goal came out of it.”
In the wake of the national championship, Trivino was part of a blur of celebrations both in the locker room and back on Comm. Ave, where he rode in a duck boat and celebrated at Marsh Plaza during the championship parade.
But when Trivino and the Terriers returned for the 2009-10 season, the euphoria from the national championship squad was gone. The Terriers struggled to live up to expectations all season and Trivino continued to fail to put up the numbers he had in juniors. The then-sophomore scored just four goals and 11 assists before suffering a broken leg in February just as the Terriers started to regain steam for a late-season push.
“It was devastating,” Trivino said. “It was probably the worst moment of my hockey career. We were just starting to figure things out. We were dominating teams. And then I couldn’t do anything about it but watch from the sidelines.”
The rest of the team was just as devastated by the injury as Trivino was.
“We were really coming on in the second half of the season and Corey was definitely an important part of our team,” Connolly said. “For him to go down at that point, it was hard for us. It was a big hole for us to fill. We did the best we could but we would have been better off with him in the lineup, that’s for sure.”
The Terriers’ season ended with a loss to the University of Maine in the semifinals of the Hockey East tournament, and BU could do nothing more but watch from the sidelines as Boston College won the national championship.
But for Trivino, the worst was yet to come.
The trouble started in March when, according to sources, a group of Terriers had been out drinking on St. Patrick’s Day, a night when the team was not allowed to go out. To complicate matters, Trivino was underage at the time.
BU head coach Jack Parker reportedly punished the team with a series of bike rides. Trivino and Saponari allegedly showed up extremely late to one of the rides despite a warning from Parker saying if anyone was late, they might as well not show up at all because they would be kicked off the team.
Trivino and Saponari were immediately suspended. To worsen matters, a video of Trivino and Saponari performing a vulgar rap song titled “Party like a Puckstar” surfaced on the Internet around the same time that his other troubles were developing.
In early May, Saponari and his brother Victor were both kicked off the team. Trivino was suspended indefinitely for the incident. According to a press release from the team, the Saponaris were punished more severely because of “cumulative instances in which Victor and Vinny Saponari have displayed conduct unbecoming of a Boston University hockey player.”
Because Trivino apparently did not share the same behavioral history as the Saponaris, he was given a second chance.
Before their final punishments were meted out, Trivino said he “definitely” thought he would be kicked off the team.
“You don’t know what kind of consequences you’re going to get for your actions,” Trivino said. “I’m thankful that [Parker] gave me a second opportunity to stay on. Hopefully I can make sure that it’s not a decision he’ll regret.”
The second chance proved to be a learning experience for Trivino, as he accepted his punishment and matured from the incident.
“I think he took that to heart a little bit that one of his better friends – Vinny at the time was his roommate – didn’t do the right things and left the program,” Connolly said. “I think that was a little bit of a shock for Corey and I think he’s matured a lot over the last couple of years.”
Trivino was suspended for the first two games of his junior season, but since that time, Trivino rebounded, enjoying his best season in a BU jersey last year, as well as improving his behavior off the ice.
Trivino tied Connolly as the second-leading scorer on the team last season with eight goals and 20 assists. He continued to play well defensively, finishing second among forwards with a plus-4.
But his most important breakthrough came when January ended and February began, as Trivino rode a five-game point streak one year removed from his devastating leg injury.
Trivino explained the offensive outburst by saying he finally felt confident that once the puck was on his stick, he could do something with it rather than simply pass it away. He said his lack of confidence came from his string of injuries.
“You get injured and you’re like ‘Oh, I have to get back to what I was before, not better than I was before,” Trivino said. “I was always trying to play catch-up with my body and it came to a point where finally I knew what the rhythm was on the ice and what I was going to do. You’re a totally different player when you play with confidence.”
Parker offered a bit more praise than Trivino was willing to give himself when explaining why Trivino lacked confidence through his first two-and-a-half seasons.
“He came in as a very young freshman and it took him a while to get adjusted here,” Parker said. “Confidence-wise, I don’t think he’s ever given himself credit for that. I don’t think he realizes how good he is.”
There’s no better time than the present for Trivino to blossom. After two seasons without any significant championships, Trivino and the Terriers are hungry for some trophies.
“It’s been a big slap in the face especially because we haven’t made the tournament since freshmen year,” Trivino said. “You want that feeling again where you win the championship, you win it all, and you’re the best team in the NCAAs.
Hopefully we can get that feeling back because I know how it feels to not win it for the past two years and it’s not a good feeling at all.”
If the Terriers are able to make an extended postseason run this season, Trivino will have to be a major factor for the team. Although Trivino has proven he can play defense the way Parker demands from his forwards, both the head coach and the center are hoping he will be more of a presence on the score-sheet.
“We won the national championship his freshman year, and he was a third-line center who didn’t have to be the guy [on offense],” Parker said. “This year, we need him to be the guy. We think he has that capability, but we have other guys that can do it too.
“If he’s just a third-line center, he’ll be the best third-line center in college hockey. But I think this year he will finally evolve into the player everybody perceived coming in.”