By: Max Wolpoff
Riding into March, Boston University boasted four teams that had the talent and opportunity to play for conference championships and move one step closer to being a national champion. For a school that has not had a team reach that pinncale of collegiate athletics since the Dance Team in 2016 (you can see the banner for yourself in Case Gym), and with a proud tradition in ice hockey of at least getting within smelling distance of the trophy, the last few years were merely disappointing. This week marked another chapter of letdown and anticlimax.
In a spectacular turn of events, the only team left standing is the Men’s hockey team, who a mere three months ago struggled to string together wins like a bad comedian struggling to get consistent audience laughter. This was no laughing matter. The new video intro for the team’s home games makes as much clear: the goal at Boston University is to win the National Championship every year. Of the major two-semester sports on this campus, Men’s hockey is the only team left that has that chance.
Women’s hockey ran into the buzzsaws from across town hungry for revenge after denying them yet another Beanpot trophy to add to their coffers. Instead, for the first time in their program history, Northeastern will host the First Round of the NCAA Women’s Hockey tournament trying to reach Hamden, Connecticut for the Frozen Four. Despite career years from Sammy Davis and Jesse Compher, the two will have to wait another year before they can try getting BU back into the tournament for the first time since 2015.
Men’s basketball handled their business in the first round, and along the way broke a piece of equipment used in our broadcast that night. In any case, their previous win at Colgate this season did not help their cause a few months later when the top-seeded Raiders breezed by to secure hosting rights for the next round. With Walter Whyte’s likely return, and retaining Max Mahoney, this team will be back in contention for the Patriot League’s automatic bid in short order.
The last team to try their luck amid this stretch was Women’s basketball. BU hosted a conference playoff home game for the first time since March 12, 2011 when they lost the America East finals to Hartford. Many lean years followed that season. BU won three fewer games this season than they combined to win in the program’s first two in the Patriot League. New head coach Marisa Moseley was the conference Coach of the Year, four players received All-Conference selections of some striping, and the game would be at home.
Only problem: Holy Cross came to town, and they beat BU both times this season.
The Crusaders repeated their success against the Terriers, knocking a resurgent program out of the conference playoffs and sending BU to an abysmal 1-6 record all-time in Patriot League playoff games. Within a five-day sequence, three teams boarded their last bus trips home to Commonwealth Avenue resigned to the fate that another season ended without getting to enjoy at least one game of national attention.
This leaves campus with one more bastion of Winter before Spring comes along and mercifully allows us to enjoy the Softball team’s exploits. A team that barely finished with a winning record is now tasked with carrying the Scarlet and White banner all the way to the Hockey East championship for the second year in a row. For the second consecutive season, BU pretty much needs to win the conference to have any reasonable chance at qualifying for the national tournament. Any other outcome and it will be back to waiting for next season for all the ones not looking to jump to professional leagues the second the last buzzer sounds.
Eleven players on the roster from BU’s last game against Maine have their NHL signing rights claimed by nine different clubs. All of those teams, except for Detroit and possibly excluding Buffalo, are neck-deep in battles to stay slightly afloat in a crowded playoff race in both the East and West. Even if Joel Farabee may not make the Philadelphia Flyers full-time right away, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms sure could use a young scoring winger as they claw it out with the Hershey Bears for an Atlantic Division spot in the American Hockey League. To say nothing of Bobo Carpenter, who has made a great case for himself to be that undrafted guy signed out of college who manages to hang around longer than any trusted hockey man thought during his draft years.
The point is that Men’s hockey could, conceivably, lose over half of their team overnight to the professional leagues. That is a dangerous notion for BU to enter an instant rebuild geared at potentially being competitive next school year. It does little for a graduating senior like myself to see that and realize that I will have other obligations unrelated to my undergraduate alma matter by the time Boston University makes a serious run at anything resembling national glory. Even if UMass-Amherst is likely the team to beat entering TD Garden, BU has to get there first. Lowell is the first team on the docket and, due to this conference being especially chaotic this year, BU’s clunker of a loss to Maine sent them on the road for this series.
It is easy to get swept up in the frustration with losing most every team from the calendar in less than one week. The Florida sunshine beckons me to resume my Spring Break as it was initially contrived: an actual break from normalcy.