- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 11, 2009

A night before his team plays for college hockey’s top team prize, Boston University senior defenseman Matt Gilroy won the top individual trophy, the Hobey Baker Award, during a ceremony Friday on the Verizon Center ice.

Awarded since 1981 to the nation’s top college hockey player, Gilroy has 36 points in 43 games this season and 91 points in 159 career games.

The other finalists were Gilroy’s teammate, BU sophomore center Colin Wilson, and Northeastern junior goalie Brad Thiessen. The Terriers face Miami (Ohio) on Saturday for the national title.

Gilroy, 24, became the first Hockey East player to win the award since Boston College’s Mike Mottau in 2000 and the first from BU since Chris Drury in 1998. Gilroy wasn’t recruited after his junior hockey career and walked on at BU.

“I think I e-mailed every team in the country and tried calling every team in the country; nobody was interested at all,” he said. “My junior coach did a lot of work for me and was close to the BU guys, and he stuck his neck out. It was unbelievable sitting there [four years ago]; nobody is calling me back, and then a powerhouse like BU gives me an opportunity.”

Wilson leads the Terriers in scoring with 55 points and contributed two goals in Thursday’s 5-4 semifinal win against Vermont. He was a first-round draft choice by the Nashville Predators last summer.

Underdog again

Miami probably felt like it was playing a road game Thursday when the Verizon Center crowd rooted for Bemidji State to continue its improbable run through the NCAA tournament. In the title game, the RedHawks expect to have the upper deck on their side.

“It would be great to have the majority of the crowd favoring us,” senior right wing Brian Kaufman said. “I don’t think that’s happened for a while.”

Poti on Parker

Washington Capitals defenseman Tom Poti played two years at Boston University under coach Jack Parker. Of course, he has a favorite Parker story.

“One year we were up in New Hampshire, and we had an awful first period,” he said. “He comes running into the locker room to yell at us, and he loses his balance and falls down right on his back. His face turns bright red and he goes, ‘I’ll give you a minute to laugh about it and then I’ll be back.’”

Poti added: “He was pretty fiery, but he always knew the right thing to say at the right time. He knew when and how to give a kick in the butt when a guy needs it, and a pat on the back when he needs it, too.”

The Terriers are making their first national title game appearance since 1997, when they lost to North Dakota in Poti’s last collegiate game.

“Michigan had the best team with [NHL] players like John Madden and Marty Turco — they were pretty stacked — but we beat them 3-2 and that was our tournament,” Poti said. “Every game was so important, and I cherish those moments.”

Special speaker

Miami coach Enrico Blasi got a visitor before his team’s national semifinal game against Bemidji State. But to call the visit a surprise would be a stretch.

Blasi played at Miami for George Gwozdecky from 1990 to 1994 and joined Denver’s staff as a graduate assistant in 1995, Gwozdecky’s second year there. He was an assistant coach from 1996 to 1999, when he returned to his alma mater as its head coach.

When Gwozdecky led Denver to its second straight NCAA title in 2005, Blasi was in Columbus, Ohio, to watch the Pioneers win it as chair of the NCAA rules committee.

“I had an all-access pass, so I stayed with him and the staff,” Blasi said. “He said, ‘When you get there, I’ll be there to support you.’”

That promise was fulfilled Thursday.

“At 3:30 or 3:45 [in the afternoon], there’s a knock on the door. He came and addressed our team,” Blasi said. “He’s a first-class individual, and I love him. It means a lot to me and to Miami.”

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