By: Marisa Ingemi
Boston University is loaded with NHL talent. With players representing eight teams, there are three pairs of NHL clubs that will be adding Terriers in the future. One of those teams is the Nashville Predators, who added two members of BU on draft day this past year.
In the next few seasons, current Terriers Patrick Harper and Dante Fabbro will find themselves donning the Preds’ logo. But for now, they’re busy leading a young BU group that is blossoming to one of the best teams in the nation.
“We’re a really young team, but I don’t think that really phases us,” said Fabbro, a freshman defender. “Our mindset is positive, we just want to take each day and each game and practice to give us a chance to improve.”
Fabbro has stepped in to become one of the Terriers’ leading talents from the blue-line despite struggling through adversity earlier on in the season.
“The age gap is a lot different than junior,” said Fabbro. “There’s a few things I have to work on, but the guys on the ice, day to day, it’s been tough but a great experience.”
The seventeenth overall pick to Nashville in the 2016 NHL entry draft was highly touted when he arrived at Agganis, and it appeared justified when he led the team in shots to begin the season. But over the course of the first 11 games, the defender tally only three points.
“People don’t know, he’s had strep throat three times,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “He’s been battling health since the minute he got here. He looks better, he looks fresher.”
Fabbro matched that season total in a win over Harvard heading into a ten day layoff over Thanksgiving, scoring on the power play to tie the game for the Terriers in the third period. Now fourth on the team in shots, the blue-liner has become a contributing factor to the young roster.
“Last couple of years I realized if I can get the pucks on net we have a chance to score all the time,” said Fabbro, who has taken 33 shots on net this season. “You never know who will deflect the puck. So my mindset is just I try to put myself and my team mates in the best position possible.
“Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I think you can’t shy away from doing the right thing.”
Harper, meanwhile, burst onto the scene by scoring five goals in his first preseason game and two more goals in his first regular season game against Colgate. The freshman leads the team with 17 points, four ahead of the next leader and tied with Jordan Greenway for six goals on the season.
The fifth round pick to the Predators also leads the team with four points in conference play, and he has six points over his last four games. BU has faced a difficult opening schedule, but Harper’s offensive play has helped the Terriers be able to hang with some of the top teams in the nation.
“Our team chemistry, some of that comes from how we’ve handled adversity,” said Fabbro. “I think throughout the season, we just have to face these challenges and build character as a team. So far we’ve been able to succeed, that Denver weekend was tough but we bounced back.
“It shows us what kind of a group of guys we’ve got. How talkative we are on and off the ice, we’re positive, and how close we are as a group.”
BU is the youngest team in the nation, and with a group of excellent freshman, Quinn has been quick to mention “winning draft day” means nothing during the actual season. A record seven Terriers, current and future, were selected in June to give BU one of the most talented rosters in the entire league.
There is plenty for the young team to learn as they mature, including staying out of the box, and much more.
“We’ve been locking down defensively and coach Quinn harps on playing without the puck.” Fabbro said.
When their time with BU is over, both Fabbro and Harper have futures with the Predators, as do so many other Terrier prospects with their NHL clubs.
Harper, who has played the entire season on the top line with fellow pro prospects Greenway and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, continues to find himself getting into a rhythm as an offensive leader for a top ten team.
Meanwhile, Fabbro may have just found his groove now that he’s healthy, and ready to prove the Preds made the right choice in using their first rounder on the young defender.