Sports, Winter, Hockey, Men's Hockey

In Building BC’s Future, Brown Takes Inspiration From the Past

For the first time in 28 years, there will be a new head coach behind Boston College men’s hockey’s bench Friday night. 

After Jerry York, the winningest coach in NCAA hockey history, retired after last season, former BC player and assistant coach Greg Brown is set to lead the Eagles as head coach this year. Though a new era of hockey at BC will begin with Brown’s first game, he’ll look to the past and BC’s long hockey tradition to shape how he leads on the Heights.   

After Brown’s playing days were over, he spent 14 seasons on York’s staff before leaving for an opportunity in the NHL in 2018. Though he’s been around the Heights for a large part of his coaching career, Brown said he never imagined being in charge of BC’s program.

“I never visualized that far,” Brown said. “When I was here as an assistant, I always thought it would be a great thing, but Coach York ran such a strong program here for so long that you never knew if that was the next step or if it would be somewhere else. I’m very fortunate that it came around.”

But Brown has a tall task ahead of him, and he said he feels like he has a lot to live up to.

“I have to be respectful of the incredible program he built, but I can’t even start to think about filling his shoes,” Brown said. “ I just have to do the best job I can do.”

As he acclimates to this new role, Brown speaks to York on a regular basis and accepts any advice he gives him with open arms.

“We’ve talked at least a few times a week,” Brown said. “I’m sure when the season starts and we get going, I’ll be asking tons of advice. He’s been trying to be very respectful and keep his distance, but I hope he doesn’t keep his distance. We want him to come back home.”

Brown has not only remained in contact with York, but he said he tries to emulate many aspects of York’s coaching style both on and off the ice.

“I will definitely use a great deal of the way Jerry ran the program here,” he said. “We both saw the game through similar lenses, so our on-ice product won’t exactly be the same, but there will be a lot of similarities to how we want to play.”

Senior captain Marshall Warren said he’s been impressed with Brown and how smooth his transition into the head coaching role has been so far.

“It’s been awesome,” Warren said. “It’s been a seamless transition. I think he keeps a lot of the tradition that Coach York built, and I think he adds his little tweaks to it. He’s been teaching us so much in practice.”

Assistant captain Trevor Kuntar expressed a similar sentiment and noted that Brown has focused on small details and transition play this far. 

He noticed similarities between Brown’s and York’s coaching styles as well. 

“The practices are pretty similar [to York’s]: fast and high-paced, but positive,” Kuntar said.

Warren said he was optimistic about the year ahead, even with a young squad making up the Eagles’ roster. Eight freshmen will join BC’s roster, while the Eagles return just four seniors: Warren, assistant captain Mitch Andres, Liam Izyk, and Jack Moffat. 

In addition to eight freshmen, three graduate students joined BC’s squad ahead of the season: Christian O’Neill from Princeton, Mitch Benson from Colgate, and Cam Burke from Notre Dame. 

“I love Boston College, and it’s somewhere that I am happy that I can represent well,” Warren said.  “I’m super excited to lead the boys. I think we’re going to surprise people.”

Brown said he’ll look to veterans like Warren and Kuntar to lead by example and that he expects contributions to come from the breadth of BC’s roster. 

“The veterans have to be the leaders and the driving force behind how we’re going to play,” Brown said. “We are going to need the freshmen and the young players and graduate transfers to adjust and contribute very soon. We have some, but we’re not laden with a bunch of … high draft picks, so we’re going to need contributions from everybody this year.”

The Greg Brown era officially begins against Quinnipiac at home on Friday, and the Eagles will look to avenge their 2021–22 season, during which they went 15–18–5. 

“We’ve enjoyed the first month of preparing, but there’s nothing better than when the games start,” Brown said. “Everyone in the locker room is excited to get that first game under our belt.”

October 7, 2022