Boston University coach David Quinn needed an experienced defenseman to help integrate four freshmen on the blue line this season.
The Terriers needed an energetic, new captain to rinse the residue from the lost season of 2013-14.
Junior Matt Grzelcyk matched the Terriers’ immediate criteria with enough addendums to help lift No. 2 ranked BU to the top of Hockey East and into the national conversation.
“He was elected captain in a landslide,” second-year coach Quinn said. “That said a lot about his character and his work ethic because he is not a loud person, but he leads by example. When you’ve got that skill-set and you are tough and compete the way he does, you automatically get that kind of respect from your teammates.
— Matt Grzelcyk
“The way he goes about his business reeks of leadership.”
The Terriers can add another rebuilding block when they take on No. 4 Harvard in the opening round of the 63rd Beanpot Tournament on Monday night at the TD Garden.
BU has won 29 Beanpot titles, the most of the four schools in the event, while the Crimson have hoisted the Beanpot 10 times.
“One of the reasons you go to BU is to play in the Beanpot,” Grzelcyk said. “We’ve been on a real roll lately and hopefully we carry that into the Beanpot.”
Grzelcyk began his rise with the U.S. National Under-18 program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was a third-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins in 2012 and grew up as a self-ascribed rink rat in Charlestown, a section of the city with an historic connection to BU hockey.
“One of the major reasons why I started [looking] into this place because of guys like [1980 Olympian] Jack O’Callahan,” Grzelcyk said. “It’s also pretty cool to be close to home and go to school here.”
This will be the first time in 17 years (1997-98) that we enter the Beanpot with fewer than five losses! #ProudtoBU
— BU Men’s Hockey (@TerrierHockey) January 31, 2015
Grzelcyk finds motivation in making up for lost opportunities. Grzelcyk, a 5-foot-10, 176-pound, puck-moving defenseman, suffered a freak shoulder injury in practice in January of last year.
The damage done required surgery and it forced Grzelcyk to sit out last year’s Beanpot, a difficult dose of medicine for a kid who grew up on the Charlestown side of the North Washington Street Bridge.
“It is always tough watching any game but especially the Beanpot,” Grzelcyk said. “It was tough to watch last year and we all have a lot to play for.”
Grzelcyk has filled the lost time with an offensive touch and steady work as the center point on the power play and on the penalty kill. Following Friday night’s 9-5 victory against UMass, Grzelcyk has tallied one goal with 17 assists with a plus-19 rating and 32 blocked shots on the season.
Quinn paired Grzelcyk with freshman John MacLeod in training camp and they have shared a lot of ice time since.
“The freshmen are all really mature in their own right and they came in playing big minutes because we knew they were going to be a big part of our ‘D,’ ” Grzelcyk said.
This article was written by Rich Thompson from Boston Herald and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.