By: Dave Souza
In 1978 the Boston University Men’s Ice Hockey Team won the National Championship with Brian Durocher captaining and backstopping the Terriers. In his four years as a member of the Scarlet and White, Durocher led the Terriers to 47 wins in his 61 games played, two Beanpots, and the team’s third National title of the decade.
Since that day in Providence, R.I. in the late 1970s, Durocher has nestled himself into quite the niche at his alma mater. After serving as Assistant Coach and later Associate Head Coach for the BU Terriers, the School of Education alumnus has been the Head Coach for the Women’s Ice Hockey Team since the squad’s inception in 2005. At the helm, BU has gone 231-129-43, has claimed five Hockey East Championships, and has appeared in two National Championship Games.
“There have been some fantastic players who have gotten the job done and [the coaching staff] tries to prepare them during the week and stay out of the way on weekends so that they know that if they make a mistake, or if they have a bad shift, or if we get rattled for about ten minutes that we can get our feet back on the ground,” said Durocher. “We’ve got to right the ship and get going, and we’ve been lucky to do that.”
“For the man that once thought to be the successor of legendary coach Jack Parker by taking over the BU Men’s Team, transitioning to coaching women’s hockey has gone relatively smooth for Durocher.
“[The players] love the game, they play just as hard as the guys, they care about winning, but I think at the end of the day because there isn’t the illusions of grandeur […] that they make it a little more like a game,” said Durocher. “I think in some ways it makes it much more fun.”
As the Coach of the women’s squad, Durocher has brought the program out of infancy and into the National spotlight, with two of his teams reaching the National Championship.
In 2011, the Terriers became the first Hockey East team to appear in the final game of the season before they fell to the University of Wisconsin by a score of 4-1. Two years later, Durocher compiled arguably his greatest team as BU once again made a push for the National Championship. In a year in which they recorded their least amount of losses en route to compiling a 28-6-3, the Lady Terriers fell to the University of Minnesota, 6-3, in the title game.
Durocher’s laid-back personality effortlessly translates to his coaching life, where one Hockey East official described him as “the easiest coach to deal with in the conference.” When asked about his levelheadedness behind the bench, Durocher cited his faith in his players as his reasoning for being so understanding.
“I don’t think we as coaches impact the game as much as some people think. In hockey it’s a read and react game and we’ve got to try and keep the kids loose so there’s no sense in me yelling at them, and no sense in me getting on the refs all the time,” said Durocher.
This quiet and relaxed demeanor makes his occasional outbursts at referees and players alike all the more powerful. One aspect that does bring out the Hulk side to this hockey Bruce Banner is mental mistakes.
“The only times I probably get upset or disappointed are when there’s bad mental errors by our team. I know the kids on our team don’t try to intentionally have the other team pick of a pass or intentionally make a bad shot, so I don’t get on them for physical errors, its more the mental you watch for.”
However, while Durocher dislikes seeing his team not be mentally present 100% of the time, he sure does understand the pressures of being a student-athlete at one of the nation’s best research institutions turned hockey powerhouse.
“Having the same type of life [trying] to put together academics and athletics […] you have that type of understanding and it can be more helpful. I think it is more helpful especially nowadays because these kids work harder and have longer seasons than we used to,” said Durocher
Many around the women’s college hockey world wonder how long Durocher, who has two fully-grown daughters of his own, will remain the head of an already storied program. While he has been a coach since he graduated from BU almost 40 years ago, Durocher has no plans to leave anytime soon, as he has a few more goals he’d like his team to accomplish first.
“Personally, I love what I’m doing and I see myself here for another ten years of coaching. We want to try and win a National Championship, we want to do well in Hockey East Championships, and we want to grab a Beanpot in there too,” said Durocher.
“If we can keep bringing in quality student-athletes to the school some of those wins and trophies will be there. But mostly, I want to make sure that the people in and around BU see that we’ve got a classy group of kids that are a great reflection on Boston University.”
With that goal in mind, all 23 of Durocher’s players have the perfect role model of class and elegance in hockey, school, and life right in front of them: their always-smiling head coach.