Athletes are often perceived as existing outside of the student body. Their dedication to sport, rigorous training schedules, and time in the national spotlight frequently distance them from the general population. Yet, their stories go far beyond the jersey. On the field and off, they have aspirations, passions, hardships, and triumphs. Press Pass is a new series dedicated to bridging the gap between athletes and Superfans by exploring what it means to be an authentic member of the Boston College community.
Teddy Doherty - Hockey
Teddy Doherty managed to mention every player on the BC men’s hockey team in the thirty minute period during which he shared his experience as an Eagle, because that’s just the kind of guy he is. It’s the Teddy thing to do.
Sitting rink side before practice, Doherty had the opportunity to look out over an empty Conte Forum and reflect on his time at BC before his final days skating at Kelley Rink. Since he was a young boy growing up in Hopkinton, Mass., his dream was to play hockey at Boston College.
Doherty has been on skates since he could walk, and as long as he can remember, he has always had the dream of going to a Boston school and playing in the Beanpot.
“What pushed BC over the top was my uncle [Marty Hughes] played here in 2001. I saw him win a national championship and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to go to BC,” said Doherty.
After that, it was a no brainer, and he was extremely happy when Coach York began recruiting him. Doherty says that he never felt any pressure from his uncle to become an Eagle. This dream was his alone. While Hughes has kept his distance, Doherty said it’s a little scary to see the similarities the two have gone through in their college careers.
“He set the bar pretty high, but I think I have more Beanpots; he has more national championships right now,” joked Doherty, letting his competitive nature show a little. In all seriousness, that is something that he hopes to change this weekend in Tampa.
The Eagles have the potential to win their second national championship in the last five years, in the same place where they achieved victory in 2012. The road to the top, however, will not be easy, with arguably one of the best Frozen Four fields in a very long time.
“The Frozen Four this year is wide open, and any team could win it,” said the now-captain. “I don’t think there’s one true underdog or one true favorite. It’s going to be an exciting time for sure.”
It’s going to take more than just talent to take the crown, and Doherty hopes that the combination of the team’s intensity, leadership, and experience will bring a championship back to the Heights.
“[There is] a lot of focus in this group, it’s good to see, probably more focused than any group at BC I’ve been a part of before,” said Doherty. “I think our will to compete and win, our intensity within the practices, has all taken a huge step forward from last year, [but] I don’t want to compare it to last year.”
Doherty saw last season as a step back for the team, but he is proud that they were able to regroup and get the program back to where it should be: competing for national championships.
He will see some familiar faces in the tournament, and if both Denver and BC make it to the final, he will be playing against his old coach. Not only that, but both teams have created a bit of a rivalry in the NCAA tournament; the Pioneers were eliminated by the Eagles in the 2014 tournament, only to return the favor last year. There is a strong chance that the back-and-forth continues later this week.
Before the Eagles get ahead of themselves, however, they must focus on their semifinal match against No.1 Quinnipiac. In the Bobcats’ regional final against Lowell, they held the River Hawks to just 15 shots.
“You know what you’re getting with Quinnipiac, they’re fast, and they play up tempo just like us. It’s going to be a run and gun type of game, and we have the ability to grind them down a little bit. I think we're a little bigger, a little stronger, but they have a terrific team (and) they’re not number one by fluke.” Doherty knows the team must be ready to play from the opening face-off.
Perhaps the Eagles past experience in the Frozen Four gives them a leg up on the competition, as both the junior and senior classes played in the 2014 tournament in Philadelphia. That run was short lived, though, as the Eagles dropped the semifinal game to Union.
“They outplayed us for sure and deserved to win that year. But going to the Frozen Four and going to the banquet and dealing with the media and playing in another pro rink was eye opening for a lot of us,” Doherty commented.
“I think this year there hasn’t been any sense of panic. I felt for both [regional] games that we went into those games expecting to win and knowing we were going to win. If we keep that going, we’ll be pretty tough to beat. As long as we ‘stay within ourselves and not be afraid to lose’ is the phrase we like to use here.”
With another Frozen Four trip, the Eagles are making their historic 25th appearance in the tournament. Just another milestone with Jerry York that Doherty has been around to witness. He was a sophomore when York won his 925th game to become the winningest coach of all time, a junior when York nabbed his 500th victory at Boston College, and this year awarded York with the game puck to commemorate his 1000th victory.
Doherty doesn’t really think much about the man behind the bench; instead, he just shows up to the rink every day and gets greeted by the same message: “Hey Ted, how’s it going?” He laughts about it when he is proven right as Coach York walks by and greets him with that exact statement, apparently his fourth time hearing it that day.
“When you’re playing for him, you don’t realize how special it is to be playing for him, but I think when you look back on it and you come back to BC and see his banner in the stands, (you realize) what a cool experience it is playing for the best coach ever to live in college hockey…It’s such an honor to play for a coach like him, definitely in a few years—maybe even next year—I’ll look back and say wow…” Doherty drifted off at the end of this statement, struggling to put into words what playing for York means.
"It has shaped me as a person. He preaches all the little things about being humble and not flaunting yourself around campus. The first thing he said after we won the regional, he said ‘make sure we’re staying humble here, we’ve got a long way to go.’ He’s really helped me develop into the person I wanted to be when I thought about coming to BC originally. As a player, it’s endless the things he’s done for me.”
One of those things included moving Doherty up to forward his junior year. He had played defense his entire life, but considers himself more offensive-minded. With his team-first mentality, Doherty was more than willing to make the shift and didn’t see too much of a change, just some positioning aspects. He has enjoyed getting to play with different guys and showing up to the rink each day with a new surprise. The change has led to a major increase in production, and has allowed York to use the senior as his do-it-all man.
Over the years, the Doherty has seen a steady increase in production, going from 18 to 25 points and improving from+7 to +17 between his freshman and senior years, respectively. Perhaps his biggest contribution has been away from the stats sheets in his role as captain. “It’s something you dream about, but you wouldn’t expect it to actually happen,” he said, commenting on being elected by his teammates.
In typical fashion, though, he directs the attention to the guys who skate beside him.
"There’s a ton of guys in the room that could’ve gotten it. I was happy, but I knew it was a big responsibility. Our assistant captains have been great this year. I don’t think they’ve gotten nearly enough credit. Steve Santini, (Ian) McCoshen, Chris Calnan, they all do the right things, they make my job very easy and they help me out immensely. I can’t thank those guys enough.”
Doherty could not speak more highly of his teammates, including the other defensemen who stepped up following the loss of Noah Hanifin and Mike Matheson. He gave further praise of McCoshen and Santini taking a huge step forward in their games: “With the development of Ian and Steve, it allowed our whole play to rise up.”
He also gave credit to the freshmen for filling the necessary roles, praising Mike Kim for coming halfway through the year and making an immediate impact and commending Josh Couturier for make such tremendous improvements since the start of the season.
Much like Doherty, not many people expected much from Casey Fitzgerald this year. The captain, though, had nothing but praise for his fellow Eagle.
“He brings a ton of offense to the blue line. He’s been such a productive player, and I don’t think anyone expected that from him either. I expected it, because you just see him in practice every day, but a lot of people around the country were pretty surprised by that."
Perhaps Doherty speaks so highly of his teammates because they are his favorite part of being on the team, although he might not be the right guy to stick up for his buddies when someone goes after them.
“I get that protective instinct, but I’m not really the biggest guy so I don’t think that’s my job to be going after those guys,” he said laughing. What he loves most is coming to the rink and joking around with his best friends, and that’s one thing he’ll miss the most about Boston College
“The guys are definitely what make this experience special for me, and I’m gonna miss every one of them. whether they know it or not. It’s going to be emotional taking off the jersey for the last time.”
Once he does leave the ice for the final time as an Eagle, his future is unclear, but he knows that he wants to stay around the game. Whether he is playing or coaching (a dream that he realized under Jerry York), hockey is his love, and he is still that kid who grew up cherishing the game.
“Coaching is my passion for sure, and that’s something I want to do in the future, but I’ll try and play as long as I can and see where that takes me."
Luckily, he doesn’t have to hang up the jersey just yet and still has the chance to achieve his dream of winning a national championship, finally catching up to Uncle Marty...not that anyone is keeping score.
When asked what winning a national championship would mean to him, without skipping a beat Doherty responded, “It would mean everything.”
“You come to BC to get a degree and win a national championship. Coach York’s phrase is to 'leave with a ring on one hand and degree in another.' That would mean the world to me. I love playing for Boston College. I love the thought of being a Boston College alum. It would mean everything to go out and win a national championship for this school with the other guys in the locker room. They’re my best friends for sure, and to do this with them would be so special to me and something I would never forget.”
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