Hockey, Ice Hockey, NCAA, Sports

A brief history of Terrier men’s hockey coaches

Passion, history and family are just a few of the words thrown around by former Terrier great Mike Eruzione (Wheelock ’77) in an attempt to capture all that Boston University men’s hockey stands for. 

“To put a Terrier on your chest is something that’s special,” Eruzione said in an interview.

O’Connell continues the tradition of having BU alum as head coach. PHOTO BY DEREK GEE/ DFP FILE PHOTO

This year, the Terriers will take the ice at Agganis Arena for their 100th season. In 100 seasons, the Terriers have earned every piece of hardware available to a Division I hockey program, from Eastern College Athletic Conference  and Hockey East trophies to national titles, Beanpot rings and Hobey Baker Awards for the best collegiate hockey player in the country. 

“We kind of hang our hat on our hockey program,” Eruzione said. “To go here and be successful here was kind of expected of you. You came here with the expectation of winning Beanpots, Hockey East and ECAC championships and tournament games.”

Eruzione has long been a part of BU’s hockey program — even as he’s gone on to win the Olympic gold medal with the 1980 USA hockey Team, as seen in the Disney movie “Miracle.” He then went on to join the coaching staff as an assistant for the Terriers’ 1995 national title and is currently the director of special outreach for BU Athletics.

It wasn’t always as renowned of a program. In their inaugural 1917-18 season, the Terriers faced the trials and tribulations of history as the program lasted through both the Great Depression and World War II, competing in their first NCAA tournament in 1950. Harry Cleverly served as the head coach for the Terriers for 17 years, during which the team competed in the inaugural Beanpot tournament and joined the ECAC — a 28-team Division 1 collegiate hockey league.

After the Cleverly era, Jack Kelley (Wheelock ’52) took the reins of BU hockey, bringing the program to the forefront of the college hockey stage. In his 10 seasons, Kelley coached four NCAA tournament teams and led the Terriers to back-to-back national championships in 1971 and ‘72 — on top of three ECAC regular season trophies, one ECAC tournament title and six Beanpot rings.

Kelley also recruited the most notable Terrier coach in Jack Parker (Questrom ’68), who captained the team in 1968 and would then serve as an assistant coach on the national championship teams.

Following Kelley’s retirement, Leon Abbott would take over as head coach of the Terriers for a one-year stint filled with controversy and forfeited victories due to ineligible players. Abbott was quickly fired early into his second season when the University named Parker as his successor.

At just 28 years old, Parker began a legacy of excellence in the Terrier locker room as the winningest coach in BU hockey history. 

“I was definitely afraid to play under Jack because Jack wasn’t that much older,” Eruzione recalled. “I was 19 or 20, so he wasn’t that much older than me, but he was still the coach, and to this day, he’s still the coach.”

The bench boss for 40 years, Parker had an 897-472-115 record, maintaining the highest number of wins for a hockey coach at a single institution. Parker’s Terriers won 21 Beanpots, 11 conference tournament titles and three national championships, and helped found Hockey East in 1984. 

By 2013, Parker knew his time behind the bench was approaching the end. 

“Forty years is a long time to be at the same institution in the same job,” he was quoted saying in BU Today in 2013. “I haven’t lost a step, but I don’t want to lose a step.”

Parker retired as the third-winningest coach in NCAA history behind Jerry York of Boston College and Ron Mason of Michigan State University, and BU has honored his legacy. To this day, Terriers play at the Jack Parker Rink at Agganis Arena, and his No. 6 is one of two retired numbers in Terrier hockey history.

“I can’t ever see a day that a coach at Boston University isn’t a former player. There’s a tradition here at BU,” Eruzione said. “The standard of being a coach at Boston University was started by Jack Kelley and continued on from there … but I think each coach understands how important it is to coach Boston University.”

Filling the hole left by Parker’s retirement was no easy task, but with the goal of hiring internally, former Terrier David Quinn (College of Arts and Sciences ’89) was promoted from associate head coach to head coach in 2013.

 During his five seasons with the whistle, Quinn continued a standard of excellence, taking the Terriers to the NCAA championship game in 2015 and reaching the tournament in four straight seasons.

In 2018, after taking the Terriers to the NCAA Northeast Regional Finals, Quinn was hired as the head coach of the New York Rangers in the NHL and traded in his scarlet and white for red, white and blue. In June of 2018, Albie O’Connell (CAS ’99) was named the 12th head coach of Terrier hockey after returning to BU in 2014 as an assistant coach. 

O’Connell captained the 1998-99 team, coming in as a freshman one season after the Terriers secured their fourth national championship. Across his 10 years, O’Connell has seen his fair share of NCAA tournaments, Hockey East competitions and Beanpots, and is remaining in his leading role for the 2021 season.

As the Terriers enter into what will be a historic season regardless of results, they will look to uphold the legacy of the great athletes before them. 

“I think our ceiling’s really high,” O’Connell told the media after a 5-1 exhibition victory against Holy Cross on Oct. 2. “We’re just scratching the surface.”

One Comment

  1. If this is the level that 100 years of B.U. hockey has drifted down to, time to start over by cleaning house and returning to Kelley/Parker, Boston University hockey.

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