One Last Shot for Hockey’s Lone Senior Skater
Cocaptain Joe Pereira: ready to lay it on the line
In 2009, when the Boston University men’s ice hockey team won the NCAA championship, Joe Pereira was a sophomore on a team led by seniors. Things are different this year. Pereira (MET’11), who was named cocaptain last April, is the only senior skater on a team that is hoping to improve on last year’s frustrating performance. Goalie Adam Kraus (MET’11) is the team’s only other senior. More than half of this year’s seniors moved on to the National Hockey League.
“I get one more chance here at BU,” says Pereira. “I get one last ‘kick of the can’ as associate head coach Mike Bavis says. Last chance at Beanpot and Hockey East titles and last chance at NCAAs. You have to lay it on the line.”
Pereira, a native of West Haven, Conn., arrived on campus in 2007 as part of a talented seven-member freshman class. “BU had an open spot,” he recalls. “When they called, I jumped at the opportunity. I knew nothing was for granted here and that all I could do was work hard and see what happened.”
He quickly became a popular member of the team. The self-proclaimed “goofball” could usually be found smiling and laughing, and he tried to keep the grueling training fun with jokes he says nobody could understand.
On the ice, the rookie Pereira worked hard to prove to the coaching staff that he was capable of becoming a regular. He debuted in the second game of the season and went on to dress for 30 contests.
“Pretty much everybody was the best player on their last team before coming here, but you have to find a role when you get here,” he says. “There are only 12 forwards playing—you’re not the goal scorer anymore. You have to block shots, hit people, or make good back checks.”
A freak injury during the Hockey East title game against UMass Lowell, ended the championship 2008–2009 season for Pereira: he curled around the BU goal and the blade of his stick got caught in the net and snapped. A jagged piece sliced into his stomach and hit his spleen.
Trying to tough it out, Pereira told athletic trainer Larry Venis that he was OK. But he wasn’t, and after one more shift, he hit the bench and promptly fainted. He was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital. “It was definitely scary,” Pereira says. “I just wanted to do everything I could to stay on the ice, but this was pretty serious.”
He got late clearance to travel to Washington, D.C., for the Frozen Four, and while he couldn’t play, teammates say his mere presence inspired them. They went on to capture the fifth national title in program history. “Joe was such a big part of that team, always bringing high energy and intensity and being an inspirational guy,” says fellow cocaptain Chris Connolly (CGS’10, MET’12). “He had worked so hard, and I’m sure he was dying to play, but just for him to be able to make the trip meant a lot to us.”
Pereira recovered and as a junior had his best offensive season yet, putting up 21 points on 5 goals and 16 assists. He spent some time on the top offensive line, and a 6-5 overtime win at Harvard on November 24 saw his career-best performance: two goals and a pair of assists.
While his versatility has changed his on-ice role from time to time, his off-ice role stayed the same until he was elected a captain by teammates last April.
“The guys look up to him because of his personality, enthusiasm, and work habits,” says head coach Jack Parker (SMG’68, Hon.’97), who is entering his 38th season behind the Terrier bench. “He does the right thing in every area. He’s a great kid. He’s a student who works hard and does well in class. I’m hoping he has a great senior year for us and for himself, because he deserves it.”
Which is what Pereira is hoping, too.
“We’re trying to get back to where BU hockey belongs,” he says. “Last year wasn’t good enough. This year, we expect to win the Beanpot. We expect to win Hockey East. We expect to be one of the 16 teams in the NCAA tournament. Sitting at home, you have a sour taste—especially after seeing Boston College win the NCAA title again. So you figure, why not make it two and two?”
The BU men’s ice hockey team hosts the University of Toronto in an exhibition game tomorrow, Saturday, October 2, at Agganis Arena at 7 p.m. Purchase tickets at the Agganis Arena box office or here.
The team’s home opener is Saturday, October 16, when the Terriers face off against UMass Amherst.
Brian Kelley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments