By: Patrick Donnelly
With the conclusion of the 2019-20 season came the end of one of the most remarkable careers the Boston University women’s hockey team has seen. Sammy Davis completed a five-year run with BU, in which she redshirted her junior year due to hip surgery before returning to post 93 points (42g, 51a) in 73 games over her final two seasons.
Davis finished her career as the sixth-highest scorer in program history with 142 points (66g, 76a) in 149 games. Her 66 goals rank fifth all-time in the Terriers’ record books. The Pembroke, Mass. native was named Most Valuable Player for the 2019 Beanpot as she scored the game-winning goal against Harvard to lift the Terriers to their first title as a varsity program and first since 1981.
A two-time Hockey East All-Star, the left-shot forward served as an assistant captain during her junior year before becoming a co-captain for her redshirt junior and senior seasons. Davis was selected first overall by the Boston Pride during the 2020 National Women’s Hockey League Draft last week.
On Thursday, Davis reflected on her journey with the Terriers, her growth as a player and a person, and what the next chapter of her life holds.
Patrick Donnelly: First thing’s first, what does daily life look like for you these days with everything going on?
Sammy Davis: It’s been pretty busy. You know how being a student is with the end of the school year. [There’s been] a lot of joy though because of everything that’s been going on, like it’s the end of your college career. So people are recognizing their accomplishments and it’s very nice to be able to celebrate with my family. I actually finished my last exam last night, so hopefully I get my Master’s degree next week.
PD: Coach Durocher has always spoken highly of you especially with how you set the tone both on the ice and in the room, was there someone in particular or a specific experience that helped you grow as a leader?
SD: I think even in high school I had a lot of older girls that were great captains and kind of paved the way for me. Then, when I was a freshman I had a handful of captains that were really great. [Kayla] Tutino was the captain when I was a freshman, and Sarah Lefort and Dakota [Woodworth], all three of them did such a good job at piecing together a picture. They all had very different personalities, but they all had very good traits and very good leadership qualities.
I think I just tried to learn from them, learn what they were good at, and try to implement it into my leadership. I mean all the captains throughout the years – my sophomore year was [Natalie] Flynn and [Alexis] Crossley, Reagan [Rust] was unbelievable, Rebecca [Leslie], [Victoria] Bach, and Erin [O’Neil] – all brought something different to the table, and I think I tried to learn from them and see what girls responded to best when those leaders were leaving. I tried to do my best looking up to them.
PD: Another thing Coach has praised is how strong on the puck you are and your effectiveness along the boards and the dirty areas of the ice in all situations, even though the offense will grab the headlines, what do you attribute that all-around style of play to?
SD: I love that part of hockey. I think a lot of girls that are recognized for that don’t get the headlines, like you said. I enjoy that part of the game. I enjoy working hard. Everything in my life, whether it’s school or hockey, I’ve always had to work at. Maybe people only see the glamorous stuff, but I have to work at it.
I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve had to face adversity everywhere I’ve gone to play hockey. I think that’s why I like that area of the ice so much because it relates to my personality.
PD: You had to redshirt your junior season after injury, but when you returned last year, you were extremely dynamic and productive, which carried over into this season. What kind of work went in behind the scenes to not only get you back but also into top form?
SD: I definitely have to give a lot of credit to my coaches at BU, my strength coaches at BU, my strength coaches at home, and my skills coaches during the summers. If it weren’t for them, their motivation, and my family – the amount of times I had to turn to my parents, saying “I can’t do this anymore.” They and the people around me lifted me up. They’re the ones that motivated me and made me persevere through all of this. I have to give it to them, my physical therapists, and my doctors.
I had such a great community, and I had such a supportive group. Everybody was on the same page and they all definitely put my health first. They just wanted me to get back to Sammy. I think that’s what made it so successful. I had people who love and support me around me, so that made me feel very supported.
PD: Looking at the Beanpot, you had your share of clutch moments, especially with the game-winner in 2019. Being from the Boston area, what did it mean to you to be able to play in the tournament and rise to the occasion?
SD: It means so much. When you’re younger and you want to go play college hockey, being from around here you want to go play in Boston. You dream of and think about those Beanpot games. Just to be able to play in the game and have that happen is so bittersweet.
I have to say, if it weren’t for my teammates – Jesse [Compherr], Abby [Cook], Nara [Elia], Kaleigh [Donnelly], whoever is passing me the puck – that puck wouldn’t have gone in the net. It was a full team effort, and it was a full team celebration with the win. It was really great to experience, have that with the team, and have it in my memory. I’m definitely going to cherish that forever.
PD: Of all your accomplishments at BU, is there something that stands out to you the most?
SD: I think persevering through that really tough year, and being able to come back for that fifth year and enjoy hockey again. Being able to have my family there and supporting me at all my home games, I think that’s one memory that I’m really going to remember, having my mom, dad, brother, and sister up in the stands. I don’t think my mom and dad missed one game, even when I was injured.
They came to every game. They came up to Maine, and they flew down to Washington the year that I was hurt. This year, I probably had at least 10 people from my family in the stands every game, or at least every other game. I think that’s something I’m going to remember. I’m happy that I get to do that again in Boston.
Just making memories with my teammates, too. The locker room, having this year’s stall, and all the locker room talk, I think that those are my favorite my memories and something that I’ll cherish the most, being surrounded by people that love you, care about you, and want the best for you.
At the end of the day, hockey is hockey, but the memories you make and the people you meet is really what matters. You’re going to remember those for the rest of your life.
PD: You finished your career among the top of the program’s record books, how much does knowing you’ve established yourself among the best to come through BU mean to you?
SD: Honestly, I don’t really think about the personal accolades a lot. I mean that’s great and I’m so grateful for all of it. I think a lot of my teammates helped me do that. I think it’s more about how I got there and how I got to be at the end of my season and now graduating.
Who I met along the way, that’s what I think will make me miss BU the most between the girls. the coaching staff, Walter Brown Arena, and walking up and down Comm. Ave everyday. I’m thinking about it now and I’m just like, “man, I wish I could go back.”
PD: I’m sure you’ve been asked about the NWHL Draft a ton recently, but how special was it to not only get selected first overall, but by the Boston Pride too?
SD: I think it’s really special. They have a great coaching staff, and it will definitely feel like home there. [Head coach Paul Mara] has been so great to me, and I think that he’s really going to help me develop and grow as a leader. I think I’m going to grow even more on and off the ice, being surrounded by them.
It just means so much to me. My family and friends are so important to me, and having my parents be able to support me right now in this weird transition of “what do we do next?” I think it’s really nice to be able to have that certainty, even though life is so uncertain.
PD: Was the draft on your radar at all during the season or was it more when things started happening?
SD: I think when it was coming up I realized things were happening. During the season, I was so focused on winning the next game.
If I could say one thing to the younger girls right now it would be: I remember when I was a freshman and life is just, so short so when you get out on that ice, play the best that you can play and work the hardest that you can work. When you’re a senior and you’re playing in that last game like we did against Maine, it’s like you’re crawling and trying to get extra air so you can play an extra 10 minutes on the ice. Just work hard and don’t have any regrets when you step on that ice, whether it’s practice or games.
PD: On top of the NWHL, you’ll also be pursuing a doctorate in occupational therapy at Mass. General Hospital, how quickly do you plan on getting started with that?
SD: I actually start school on June 8th. So I have about a month off, which I’m really excited for. I really hope the weather gets better so I can relax a little bit because I haven’t really been able to enjoy everything that’s been going on since all these amazing things have happened to me.
I really just want to take it in with my family and friends and be able to celebrate because we haven’t yet. So hopefully we’re able to get outside before my crazy life begins with MGH.
PD: With both professional hockey in the NWHL and the doctorate program in the fold, what does trying to balance both of those next season look like for you?
SD: I feel like, playing Division I hockey and balancing school and hockey ended up working out. I think I’ll be able to do it. I’m pretty good with my time management and putting things that are important first. I think it’s going to be really hard, and I’ll definitely need the people around me to support me a lot.
If I want to be able to play and go to school, I’m going to have to figure it out. I think the school is going to be great and they’re going to support me through that, which is part of why I picked the school. They definitely understand that you have goals outside of the doctorate program, even though it is a professional track.
I think they understand that there’s more to life than just your career, and you have to enjoy your hobbies and dreams. It’s going to be hard, but I think it’s going to be manageable.
This interview has been edited and condensed.