As if countless Beanpot, Hockey East and on-campus battles haven’t been enough, Jerry York and Jack Parker must now lead their teams in a frigid, pond-hockey-style contest in the shadows of the Green Monster.
Known as hockey hotbeds for decades, the two Boston schools have produced many great NHL players and continue to churn out some of the nation’s best prospects on a yearly basis. And these two schools have put forth the best talent where and when the country needed it the most: the 1980 USA Olympic team. Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione, Dave Silk, and Jack O’Callahan — all BU Terriers — miraculously took down the Soviets en route to their gold-medal voyage in Lake Placid. Unfortunately, these young men were unable to make waves in the professional ranks, but they will go down as American hockey legends for eternity.
From Jeremy Roenick’s four days as a student in the Heights to Matt Gilroy’s recent meteoric rise from Hobey Baker award winner to this season’s Rangers blue-liner, the path from Comm. Ave to the NHL has been well worn.
Here’s a list of the top 10 student-athletes to make that journey.
10. Rick DiPietro, BU
The Islanders netminder has run into setback after setback since emerging as one of the league's hottest netminders in the middle of the decade, but DiPietro has already had quite the NHL career after completing just one season in Terrier country. DP has been stuck in Long Island since being plucked first overall in the 2000 draft, and despite some dreadful Isles clubs, the backstop has managed to come away with 117 wins and a 2.79 GAA. Take away DiPietro's 5-20-3 record from his first two seasons and he has a solid 112-92-5 overall record. The Winthrop, Mass., native also churned out back-to-back 30-plus win seasons in 2006 and 2007.
9. Shawn McEachern, BU
The Terrier from Waltham, Mass., carved out a niche in the NHL as a speedy and exciting goal-scorer. In his first full season in the league in 1993, he notched 28 goals and 33 helpers with the Penguins. Despite bouncing around from L.A. to Pittsburgh to Boston, Ottawa and Atlanta, McEachern managed to light the lamp 256 times in his career while assisting on 323 more for 579 career NHL points. The winger potted a career-high 32 goals and 40 assists in 2001 for the Sens and ended his career with 37 points in 97 postseason matchups before retiring with the B's in 2006.
8. Brian Gionta, BC
Since exploding into the NHL in 2001-02, Gionta has been a goal-scoring machine. The BC sniper may be one of the only players in the league to have benefited from the lockout as he came roaring back in the 2005-06 season with a Devils record 48 goals. In his career so far, Gionta has popped 161 goals and assisted on 168 others in 497 games played. Now a member of the Canadiens, he has notched five straight seasons of 20 goals or more and has 30 game-winning goals to his name.
7. Scott Young, BU
The 11th overall pick by the Whalers in the 1986 draft certainly didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately for hockey fans in the Nutmeg State, Scott Young didn’t break out until a few years later as a member of the Nordiques. In 17 NHL seasons, though, Young lit the lamp 342 times and finished with 757 points after retiring following the 2006 season with St. Louis. Young potted 20 goals or more in eight different seasons, including a career-year in 2001 when he posted 40 goals and 33 assists for a career-high 73 points.
6. Chris Drury, BU
The Trumbull, Conn., native’s dream came true in 2008 when he was named captain of his childhood team, the New York Rangers, just seven years after he hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup with the Colorado Avalanche. In 11 NHL seasons, Drury has banged home 245 career goals to go with 348 helpers in 828 games played. The former Hobey Baker Award winner is also the only Boston University player with at least 100 goals and 100 assists in his collegiate career and is the only player in hockey history to win both the Hobey Baker and Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.
5. Kevin Stevens, BC
Great things happen when you earn the chance to play alongside one of hockey’s greatest players of all time, and that was the case for Kevin Stevens. Stevens enjoyed a tremendous career out of the Heights when he was drafted by the Penguins to play with Mario Lemieux. Stevens was dominant in the early '90s, scoring 40, 54, 55 and 41 goals in consecutive seasons that included back-to-back Stanley Cup titles. During that span, Stevens twice reached the 100-point plateau including a career-most 123 points in the 1991-92 season — which is even more remarkable considering that he spent 254 minutes in the penalty box that season. After eight years in Pittsburgh, Stevens bounced around the league, making stops in Boston, L.A., New York (with the Rangers) and Philadelphia before retiring as a Penguin in 2002 with 329 goals and 397 assists in 874 career games. The three-time All-Star from Brockton, Mass., tallied 106 points (40 goals) in 103 career playoff games.
4. Bill Guerin, BC
After two years as an Eagle, Guerin felt he had what it took to make it in the NHL. And boy, was he right. Just one year after the Wilbraham, Mass., native chalked up 45 points in 38 games for BC in 1991, he banged home 14 goals and assisted on 20 more in 65 games for the Devils. Starting with that 1992-93 season, Guerin went on to post over 400 goals and 400 assists in 1,229 games over 18 seasons. And that list is still growing as the now-39-year-old is still going strong with the Penguins with 13 goals and 16 assists this season, one year after hoisting the Cup with his Pittsburgh teammates. Guerin has reached the 30-goal mark five separate times and tallied a career-high 41 goals in 2001-02 as a member of the Bruins.
3. Tony Amonte, BU
The five-time NHL All-Star stormed into the league with 35 goals and 34 assists in his rookie year of 1991 and barely showed any signs of slowing down until his retirement in 2007. Amonte potted 416 goals and 484 assists in his 15-year career and reached the 40-goal plateau three times in the span of four seasons in the late '90s. The Hingham, Mass., native was also recently named to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
2. Keith Tkachuk, BU
If there’s one thing Tkachuk knows, it’s consistency. Tkachuk has tallied at least 20 goals a season since 1992-93, except for one injury-shortened season in 2005 when he netted just 15 goals in 41 games for the Blues. Tkachuk led the league in goals with 52 as a member of the Coyotes in 1996-97 — the franchise’s inaugural season. The 37-year-old is still at it today, with 535 career goals and 522 career assists under his belt now as a member of the St. Louis Blues — good for the fourth-highest points total (1,057) among U.S.-born players in the history of the NHL.
1. Brian Leetch, BC
When Brian Leetch entered the league in 1987, many believed that the Texas native from Boston College was the second coming of Bobby Orr. While such a comment is heresy in these part, it wasn't far off. After two goals and 12 assists in 17 games his rookie year, he exploded for what would turn out to be a career-high 23 goals to go with 48 assists in his second campaign. Three seasons later, he would notch a career-high 102 points before tying his career high in goals en route to the Rangers' Stanley Cup title two seasons later in 1993-94. Leetch went on to an illustrious career that included a pair of Norris Trophies in 1992 and 1997, as well as a Conn Smythe Trophy in 1994. In 1,205 career games played, the nine-time All-Star has 247 goals and 781 assists for 1,028 career points — good for seventh most in the history of the NHL among defenseman.