Brian Durocher, Hockey Mentor
The “other” coach leads an undefeated, nationally ranked team
Brian Durocher is the other hockey coach at Boston University. While Jack Parker and the men’s ice hockey team win awards and accolades, Durocher and his team have quietly been building a respectable program of their own.
What team is that? The women’s ice hockey team, ranked 10th in the country this season after only five years in existence.
Last year, the Terriers posted an 18-11-7 record and made it to the semifinals of the Hockey East Tournament before being knocked out by Boston College. This year, they started the season with two wins and two ties in a four-game homestand, then hit the road for memorable back-to-back games in Detroit against Wayne State. Trailing 4-3 with less than two seconds remaining in regulation, forward Tara Watchorn (CAS’12) scored to force yet another overtime. The game ended in a tie.
On Saturday, forward Jenelle Kohanchuk (CGS’10) scored all four Terrier goals in a 4-2 victory, the first four-goal game in women Terrier hockey history. The team remains undefeated.
When it comes to coaching, Durocher (SED’78), who has led the program from the start, has had some good coaching of his own: he played under Parker (SMG’68, Hon.’97) as cocaptain of the 1978 national championship team and coached under him on the men’s side for 14 years before becoming inaugural coach of the women’s team in 2005.
“You have to make good, snap-judgment decisions,” he says. “As an assistant, you can sit back and mull it over and think about it and sleep on it, but as a coach you have to make those snap decisions.”
Self-effacing but verbal, quick to credit the people around him for the team’s success, Durocher nevertheless brings the same intensity to coaching women’s ice hockey that fans of the men’s team are used to. But he does so before far smaller crowds; at most, a few hundred fans attend the women’s games at Walter Brown Arena, though often their enthusiasm makes them sound like many more.
Durocher sees a benefit in his team’s lower profile. Less pressure allows him to help his players grow, he says. He takes pride not in preparing professional athletes, but in guiding young adults. “We get to see kids grow up, we get to see kids who have success,” he says. “And we’re always giving someone something. That something is an education.”
As his players can attest, Durocher isn’t the kind of coach to fly off the handle. He can yell and scream, but most days he’s patient and understanding, communicating with his players rather than making demands.
“I try to treat them like adults,” he says. “Sometimes there’s a fine line with these 18- to 22-year-old kids. There are some who are adults and some who make bad decisions.
“I’m a believer in second chances.”
With eight freshmen on this year’s team, Durocher will probably get ample opportunity to offer second chances. He’s counting on captains Melissa Tetreau (SMG’10) and Sarah Appelton (CAS’10) to guide the younger players.
He has confidence in his new number-one goalie, Melissa Haber (SHA’10). Last season, she was a stabilizing presence in 12 starts in net. He will need that same reliability from Haber this year to backstop a young defense.
“We lost a lot of experience, but it’s going to be interesting to see how the pieces of the puzzle mesh,” he says.
Durocher has always been something of the “other guy” in his BU career, but the 25-year veteran of Terrier athletics has been a steady, dependable contributor. He started as a goaltender on the 1978 NCAA ice hockey national championship team, ending that season with a 14-2-0 record and posting a .875 winning percentage, sixth best in BU hockey history. And during his years coaching with Parker, he helped the Terriers make multiple Frozen Four appearances,
Even so, many BU hockey fans don’t recognize Durocher’s name, and he doesn’t show up in the Terrier history highlight reel before games at Agganis Arena.
Could that be because he played with the likes of Mike Eruzione (SED’77), Jack O’Callahan (CAS’79), Dave Silk (CAS’80, MET’92, GSM’93), and his goaltending partner in 1978, Jim Craig (SED’79)? All were members of the “miracle on ice” U.S. ice hockey team that upset the Soviets and went on to wrest Olympic gold in 1980.
Durocher’s not bothered by being out of the spotlight. “Anything that was going to come my way as far as playing for Boston University was gravy,” he says. “We won plenty of games, and I attribute that to us having some really good teams, not me being anyone’s all-American.”
Now the other guy is hoping to add another chapter to his BU hockey legacy.
“We think it’s a great backdrop to have the tradition of the men’s hockey program,” Durocher says. “Our goal is to create that same tradition in women’s hockey.
Josh Cain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments