Barry Almeida is a Boston College alum, tried and true.
His favorite restaurant is Fin’s, he prefers Hillside to any other BC dining hall, and he is just as passionate about BC football as the next guy.
He loves his school, keeping the memories of an amazing senior year—one that saw the Eagles winning their fourth NCAA hockey title in eleven years—stored in his mind forever.
“Our senior year was one of the most unforgettable things I have ever been a part of,” a grateful Almeida said. “Being able to win our last game ever in a Boston College uniform was historic—to go out undefeated was just special.”
While it is certain the 23-year-old will never forget his time in Chestnut Hill, he regretfully acknowledged that life does go on after four years.
“It was tough with the lockout this year and both sides not reaching an agreement to immediately get playing, but I got picked up by the Capitals and started playing for the Hershey Bears (AHL affiliate to Washington) right away,” he said. “My time at BC ended last year but I found the same hard-working culture in Hershey that I did back at BC, which was good.”
Grueling, sweat inducing practices in Conte Forum and weekend showdowns against some of the Hockey East’s toughest teams only last four years, but Almeida found that Coach York and the program geared him for success at the professional level.
Instead of training for the chance at a national championship, Almeida was grinding away in the Washington Capitals farm system. When he wasn’t on the ice sharpening his technique and skills, he was dedicating his off-ice endeavors to becoming the best player he could possibly be.
“When you are a professional hockey player and that ultimate goal is to play at the highest level, you are devoting 100% to the sport. In the off-season, I do off-ice training to work on my strength and speed. I try my best to maintain a healthy diet. Everything I do is about working towards that goal of playing in the NHL.”
The hard work paid off when he began his AHL campaign with the Hershey Bears after signing an amateur tryout contract April 9th, 2012.
Just six days later, he scored his first goal as a professional ice hockey player against the Worcester Sharks. Although Hershey eventually lost the game, Almeida gained insight into the pace of the professional game.
In the 2012-2013 season, Almeida proved to be an asset to Hershey as a center. In 35 games, he scored six goals and tallied eight assists.
Then, towards the end of the season, he was brought down to the ECHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals, the Reading Royals. A multitude of players were brought down along with Almeida to accommodate roster spots before Reading made a historic playoff push.
The team was poised to win its first ever ECHL championship, and Almeida was one of many called down to ensure that it was a reality.
Almeida likened the team to an American Hockey League squad because a majority of the players had extensive experience in the AHL. He recognized that it was a perfect fit, attributing such cohesiveness to the team’s late-season success.
“Coming from BC, you are used to being in a winning program and a culture of excellence,“ the 5-foot-8, 185 pound center said. “So having a similar set-up of players at Reading definitely helped the team succeed.”
It came as little surprise to Almeida, then, when Reading won the Kelly Cup (the ECHL title) for the first time in the franchise’s history, especially with a team chemistry and overall skill level that was roughly unparalleled in the rest of the ECHL.
Just as Almeida sought and found success on the college level, he also became a winner professionally.
As he wraps up another season vying for an opportunity to play in the NHL, he takes a lot of the recent success in stride.
“It was great to be on a championship team, just like my years at BC,” he noted. “But now I’m excited to train harder in the offseason and get better for the upcoming season.”
The future does hold some uncertainties as Almeida becomes a free agent on July 1, but those too are being taken in stride by the optimistic BC alum.
One thing is for certain, though. Wherever the often-unforgiving path professional hockey takes him, Almeida says he will never forget what BC taught him, athletically and intellectually.
“What I really miss most about BC is the culture and people that I surrounded myself with during my time,” he said, expressing passion for the university he called home. “It really is a special place to be.”
He urges current students, athletes or not, to soak in the intangibles provided by the university and fellow students. His recent successes indicate that is some advice worth following.
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