Putting off the NHL, BU’s Danny O’Regan has his eyes on Frozen Four title
When he was a freshman the Terriers went 21-16-2 and O’Regan became the first freshman since Tony Amonte in 1989-90 to lead BU in scoring.
Amonte played 17 seasons in the NHL. Not too shabby company to keep in what turned out to be legendary coach Jack Parker’s final year behind the bench.
As a sophomore, O’Regan experienced the frustrations of a 10-21-4 season and a ninth-place Hockey East finish. Still, he led BU in goals with 10 and finished third in team scoring with 22 points.
Last season, when BU went 28-8-5 and lost in the title game to Providence, O’Regan’s 1.23 points per game average ranked third in the nation.
Now a senior and about to play in the marquee matchup of all this weekend’s quarterfinal series when BU travels to UMass Lowell, O’Regan is hoping the final chapter of his storied career will be the best.
He leads the Terriers in scoring with 16 goals and 26 assists (13th in the nation). Coach David Quinn calls him “the model of consistency from Day 1” and “the guy who sets the tone for us.”
Friday’s Hockey East quarterfinal game will be shown on ASN, and it is the only matchup this weekend of 20-win teams in all of men’s D-I hockey.
“It seems like it was just three months ago I was a freshmen and just getting to know my teammates,” O’Regan said of his five fellow seniors on the team. “Time really does fly. We’re all so close in everything we do and I’ve gotten to do so many things here. I don’t remember so much of the individual stuff, but how cool it’s been for what we’ve done together. I’ve hit every end of spectrum with the experiences. I’m excited to get this final round of playoffs going.”
O’Regan’s 152 points over his career rank 18th in school history, but he could possibly finish in the top 13 with a long playoff run. He’s just two points away from being tied for 16th and his 16 goals and 26 assists lead the Terriers this season and rank 13th in the nation.
His goal is a Frozen Four title. It’s why he returned for his senior season instead of joining the San Jose Sharks (fifth round pick, 2012) after last year’s runner-up finish.
“(Leaving) was in my head but I’m happy I came back,” he said. “I thought about finishing my education. I wanted my degree and I knew there was some stuff I needed to get better at before leaving. I’m not a big guy, so I watch NHL guys who are a little undersized like me and how they get to the net and how tough they are to knock off the puck.
“Here, I’m playing with and against a lot of good players and BU has such great facilities and is such a great place I couldn’t pass up my fourth year here.”
Getting past the River Hawks will be no easy task. UMass Lowell has one of the best goaltenders in the country in Kevin Boyle, a Hobey Baker and Mike Richter candidate. The teams split the regular season series and the River Hawks are 12-2-3 at home while BU is just 6-7-2 on the road. UMass Lowell finished fourth in the Hockey East, BU fifth, but when it comes to Pairwise and the polls, the Terriers rank eighth across the board and the River Hawks 11th and 12th.
Where BU may have an edge, O’Regan believes, is playoff experience after the team reached the Frozen Four last season.
“We have a lot of guys returning who made it to the last game,” O’Regan said. “This is where it’s going to pay off. Playoff hockey is so much different. You can’t make mistakes. It’s crazy stuff and they’re definitely really tough to play against. Every game with them has been an absolute battle. We have to match intensity and, play two good games against them.”
Above: Danny O’Regan became the 18th Boston University player to record 150 career points. (Courtesy Rich Gagnon/BU Athletics)