With a program-high 25 wins on the season, the Boston University women’s hockey team will be participating in the Hockey East championship this weekend at Walter Brown Arena. The man who has led the team since its inception six years ago is none other than BU alumnus Brian Durocher.
Durocher’s history as a Terrier stretches back to 1974 when he was a freshman in the School of Education. It was at this time that he became a goaltender for coach Jack Parker and the men’s hockey team.
“Truth be told, I was somebody who played in western Massachusetts and came here never really expecting to play all that much,” Durocher said. “The landscape was different back then. We had eight goaltenders…I figured I’d probably play a lot of JV hockey in my life. I was able to find my way into the role of getting some playing time and being part of the program for four years.”
During his senior season, Durocher played on the 1978 NCAA championship team that featured players like Jim Craig, Dave Silk and Jack O’Callahan. If these names sound familiar, it’s because these players were also a part of the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold medal team that defeated the Soviet Union in what has become known as “The Miracle on Ice.”
Durocher, who went 14-2-0 in his senior season, was also the co-captain of the team along with O’Callahan.
“It was a great honor for me,” Durocher said of being named co-captain. “Whether I was playing a lot in my senior year or playing a little or somewhere in between, I think [Parker] knew that I would try to be a leader and try to be a part of it here.”
Durocher and his co-captain had different leadership styles that he feels truly benefitted the team.
“Jack’s a guy that would take a bullet for you,” Durocher said. “He wore his emotions on his sleeve… So we had somebody who was a little more on the intense side and somebody like myself who tried to make sure that I was doing a good job leading, but not in the same way he did.”
After spending a year at America International College as an assistant hockey coach, Durocher received a call from his former coach asking him to return to BU. He worked with Parker for five years before leaving once again for Colgate University.
Durocher worked as an assistant to Terry Slater at Colgate from 1987 to 1991. Durocher, who often quotes Slater during his post-game interviews, became the interim head coach of the team when Slater suddenly passed away in the middle of the 1991 season.
“I think what I took from him was that there’s got to be a little bit of psychology in there,” Durocher said. “You’ve got to make sure that every kid’s on boat with you and ready to fight for you.”
After a three-year stint as an assistant at Brown University, Durocher received another call from Parker and another opportunity to work at his alma mater.
“[Parker’s] been a pretty good life line for me over the years,” Durocher said. “I was maybe out of hockey when I went to Brown, and then he called me and a second time offered me a job here as the associate head coach. I think he also was instrumental in me being strongly considered for this position with the women’s program.”
Durocher was still working as an assistant with Parker when the idea to bring women’s varsity hockey to BU started to unfold.
“I call myself. . .very lucky and. . .the right person at maybe the right time,” Durocher said of being picked to be the head coach of the new women’s team. “If I was coaching somewhere else it may not have been something that happened. People got to know me, people got to see my personality and maybe being able to be a part of that landscape.”
Durocher admitted that he didn’t know much about women’s hockey before this opportunity arose. After going out to watch some women’s teonams play in Lake Placid, N.Y., Durocher decided that it was the right fit for him.
“I found that it was the same great game, the same elite athletes, the same caring and concerned people who wanted to excel in ice hockey and loved the game,” Durocher said. “It just continued to perk my interest.”
Thus, in 2005 Durocher became the head coach of the brand-new women’s team. But after working for both Parker and Slater for so many years, Durocher needed to create his own personal coaching style.
“I think you learn things from every coach and you can’t emulate just one,” Durocher said. “I try to be Brian Durocher—a little bit of a different person.”
Since becoming coach of the team, Durocher has created one of the powerhouses of the Hockey East Association. While he has watched his team succeed in several seasons, especially the most recent, he still finds that his favorite memory comes from one of his first seasons with the women’s team.
“Back in the beginning, we were playing in the Beanpot, it was over at Harvard. Harvard was a perennial power and we were going into overtime in a 1-1 game,” Durocher said. “I’ll just never forget the size of the eyes and gleam in the eyes of the kids going out there for that overtime.”
Durocher’s passion for his team has helped his athletes succeed both on the ice and off.
“Coach Durocher cares for us as people outside of the rink and our performance in the classroom as people graduating here in four years with the ability to do well as citizens,” said senior captain Holly Lorms. “We’re pretty fortunate about that. I’ve heard horror stories where it has not been like that at all. He’s like your father – he’s someone you respect and look up to and hope to emulate in every possible way.”
This season, Durocher brought some of the most elite players in the world to the team in freshman forward Marie-Philip Poulin, junior forward Jenn Wakefield and graduate student defenseman Catherine Ward. The newcomers have had an easy time getting accustomed to BU because of Durocher’s character.
“He just made me feel comfortable in the new environment and kind of tweaked my game in order to get it at the best performance I could do on the ice,” said Wakefield, who transferred to BU after playing two seasons at University of New Hampshire. “He is just a very welcoming guy, so my transition has been easy.”
Despite all the work he’s done for the athletic program, Durocher just hopes to be remembered as someone who was influential at BU.
“I don’t look at myself as being too big of a person here,” Durocher said. “I look at it as somebody who’s just trying to be highly supportive of Boston University. They’ve been fantastic to me. I’m extremely proud of this place. . .Whether it’s my team or somebody else’s team, I hope that if this coaching thing doesn’t work out people think I’m important for Boston University and they know how proud of it I am. I’ve seen unbelievable growth at this university from 1974 to the present.”