Brian Durocher to Step Down after 18 Years Leading BU Women’s Hockey
He helped the program soar to Hockey East and national success after it was elevated to a varsity sport
Editor’s note: This story was updated February 16 with reactions from players.
Brian Durocher, the first and the only Boston University women’s hockey coach since the program was elevated to a varsity sport in 2005, announced on Wednesday he is stepping down at the end of the season.
“College hockey has been a big part of my life for the past 45 years and I consider myself very lucky to have traveled that path,” Durocher said. “As a head coach, you are only as good as your players and assistants. They define your success.”
Durocher (Wheelock’78) has been a member of the BU Department of Athletics for 36 years and will remain with the department as special assistant to the director of athletics.
A 45-year coaching veteran, Durocher is the father of three daughters, something both he and his players have said no doubt helped him relate to them. Former player Tara Watchorn (Sargent’12) once said of him: “When you talk to him away from the rink or see him around campus, the first thing he’ll talk to you about has nothing to do with hockey: [it’s] how’re classes going, how’s everything, how are your parents?”
Durocher’s warmth and relatability did not hide his competitiveness, however. A native of Longmeadow, Mass., he led the Terrier women to five Hockey East titles in his 18 years as coach, including four straight from 2012 to 2015. Additionally, the first two Hockey East teams that reached the NCAA women’s championship game were Durocher’s 2010-2011 and 2012-2013 squads.
“BD, Brian, Coach, Coach D—he goes by many names, but to all he is the ultimate good guy,” captain Nadia Mattivi (CAS’23) said Thursday. “I can’t quite think of where to begin or the right words to use to show all that BD has done for me personally, as well as this program as a whole. I can speak on behalf of the entire team when I say we are incredibly grateful for the opportunities he has given us and will forever be indebted to him.”
She said the lessons he taught went far beyond the rink: “He is a BU legend.”
Over 18 seasons, he racked up 336 victories for a win total that ranks 10th all-time amongst Division I women’s coaches. BU saw six NCAA tournament appearances under his watch—all in succession—from 2010 to 2015.
“It’s safe to say that no one will ever have a larger dual impact on our hockey programs like Brian has,” said Drew Marrochello, BU’s director of athletics. “His dedication to this University and to everything our department stands for is incredibly admirable, and there is an extensive list of people who are grateful to have been coached by him or lucky to have worked with him.
“Brian was obviously the perfect person to be the first leader of this program and exceeded expectations in terms of how quickly he placed us among the nation’s best. Whether it was being the first Hockey East school to play in an NCAA women’s title game or the magical run at Hyannis or having four Terriers on an Olympic gold medal–winning team before our program was a decade old, the achievements under Brian’s watch are truly remarkable.”
In addition to his team accomplishments, Durocher saw five Terriers become All-Americans and six compete in the Olympics, led by three-time gold medalist Marie-Philip Poulin (CAS’15), who played for Canada. BU players also accumulated 40 Hockey East All-Star awards under Durocher, including 19 first-team accolades.
Of all the players he coached, 42 went on to play professionally. And four players went on to become head coaches. (As a trivial aside, Durocher’s great uncle was baseball Hall of Famer Leo Durocher.)
Once BU’s program was elevated to varsity status, it didn’t take long for Durocher to lead the Terriers to success. It was a huge moment for Durocher to be hired at his alma mater.
As a BU student-athlete in the mid-1970s, he was a four-year letterman as a goalie and cocaptain of the Terriers men’s 1978 NCAA Division I national championship team. He later worked as an assistant coach under Jack Parker (Questrom’68, Hon.’97) from 1980 to 1985.
In their second year under Durocher, the Terrier women reached the Beanpot final and won 19 games. A year later, BU returned to the Beanpot championship game and made its postseason debut in the Hockey East semifinals, with Durocher winning the league’s Coach of the Year. In his fifth season, the team hoisted their first Hockey East trophy, becoming the first Massachusetts school to win the league crown. The program won its first Beanpot title as a varsity sport in 2019.
“I am grateful for the fantastic student-athletes that have excelled at all four programs,” Durocher said of his career. “Each year they pushed themselves to be successful on the ice, in the classroom, and throughout their respective communities. I hope they all know how much respect and appreciation I have for their effort and accomplishments.”
Another player, forward Julia Nearis (CAS’23, COM’23), said she can’t repay her coach enough.
“Coach D has always seen the good in people. He took a chance on me four years ago and has given me nothing but opportunities here at BU. It has been a privilege and an honor to learn from and be coached by someone as special as him. I will forever be grateful for Coach D and the relationship we’ve shared these past four years. They truly don’t make them like BD anymore, and I wish nothing but the best for him and his family in this next chapter.”