Freshman year at Boston College usually means adjusting to newfound freedom, juggling classes, and memorizing the names of countless fresh faces.
For BC men’s hockey’s Cutter Gauthier, freshman year also meant grappling with an otherworldly set of expectations generated by his selection as the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. Wielding a wicked lefty shot and a 193-pound frame, Gauthier arrived on campus expected to shepherd the Eagles into the post–Jerry York era.
It didn’t take long for Gauthier to justify the hype.
“You’re never sure how quickly freshmen are going to adjust to the faster pace and older, bigger guys,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “But you could see after just a few games that his transition was going to come quickly.”
The unanimous Hockey East All-Rookie selection needed just 48 minutes of play to notch his first collegiate goal against Northeastern en route to a 35-point freshman season—the kind of offensive productivity that earned him The ‘Heights’ 2022–23 Male Rookie of the Year honor.
“Right from the get-go, you could tell that he was going to make an impact right away,” teammate and BC captain Eamon Powell said.
Though his squad stumbled out to a 1–3–2 start last season, Gauthier exploded out of the gates and registered a point in seven of his first 10 games.
“His ability to create offense and get points came very quickly,” Brown said of Gauthier’s strengths.
The Scottsdale, Ariz. native settled in comfortably as the team’s offensive centerpiece—a role Gauthier took pride in.
“Just being the guy, help the team win, doing what I can, my best, every single shift, whether it’s on or off the ice,” Gauthier said. “It’s just something I relish.”
As the season continued, Gauthier’s centrality to the offense grew undeniable. Gauthier didn’t just produce at a remarkably consistent level. He also raised his game when the lights were the brightest. His career highs in points, goals, assists, shots, and plus/minus have all come on the big stage—on Jerry York Night, at Frozen Fenway, and during the Hockey East Tournament.
“He’s very confident in himself, and it shows on the ice,” Powell said. “He’s willing to take control of situations out there.”
With his first real taste of college hockey’s limelight against archrival Boston University, Gauthier delivered.
In front of a raucous Conte Forum audience, the freshman lit the lamp twice and logged a pair of assists in a 9–6 BC victory—a night that Gauthier remembers as one of the season’s best.
“Anytime you beat BU, obviously [it] is a huge night,” Gauthier said.
Gauthier added another signature moment two months later in the 2023 Beanpot semifinal.
Playing from behind for the majority of the contest, BC trailed Harvard 3–2 late in the third period. But, with under two minutes remaining, Gauthier snatched his side off the canvas and calmly flicked home the equalizer, sending the Eagles’ student section into a deafening frenzy.
“I remember thinking, ‘Why did he shoot that?’” Powell said. “Because he was all the way against the boards. It was crazy. But if there’s one guy that could score from there, it’s him.”
It’s a moment Gauthier won’t forget anytime soon.
“Tying up that game late, with all the fans and support we had at TD Garden was such a surreal moment,” Gauthier said. “I watch it back every once in a while and still get goosebumps from it.”
BC eventually fell to the Crimson 4–3 via a crushing overtime goal, but Gauthier’s Beanpot debut demonstrated his sturdy ability to thrive under pressure.
“That’s one thing I’ve adjusted to over the course of my career—just getting used to the pressure,” Gauthier said. “I think I strive under the pressure and that’s what I’ve asked for my whole entire life.”
Even before reaching Chestnut Hill, Mass., Gauthier was no stranger to high-stakes hockey.
Gauthier spent his high school years honing in his skills at the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, playing against the nation’s most talented youth prospects. In his final season with the program, Gauthier posted 34 goals and 31 assists in 54 games, making him an appealing prospect at both the college and professional level.
Having earned an extensive list of potential collegiate suitors, Gauthier chose to take his talents to BC, all while keeping his NHL future in mind.
“I just felt that BC had a good mix of everything,” Gauthier said. “They had the great culture of winning. They had the great city in Boston. Great academics, great fans, and then great people who’ve played there in the past who had successful many, many years in the National Hockey League. I felt that Boston College had the best to offer.”
But while Gauthier’s professional future nears, his focus is entirely on the present.
“It’s been great, obviously, you know, having that stuff in the back of your head, because that’s going to be your future—obviously playing in the National Hockey League,” Gauthier said. “But I can’t get too ahead of myself now. I still have lots of work to do at Boston College.”
Heading into his sophomore season, Brown said he hopes Gauthier will continue to build upon the non-offensive aspects of his game. Brown thinks Gauthier excelled at this facet of the sport throughout his freshman year.
“I thought he really made great strides in developing his whole game,” Brown said. “Better awareness in the defensive zone, quicker to support and help his teammates. I think those are places that he really improved on where the casual fan might not notice.”
Just as important as his on-ice development, however, will be Gauthier’s maturation as a leader. With the Eagles set to welcome a loaded freshman class, Gauthier’s ability to pilot the ship will be critical to BC’s success.
“I think he’ll really be able to be a leader this year,” Brown said. “We have a huge freshman class. I think after Cutter’s experience of going through freshman year, especially to the offensive guys, he’ll really be able to provide some leadership to them and share his experiences to hopefully make their transition as smooth and quick as possible.”
Gauthier said he looks forward to making their transition as seamless as his was.
“Anything I can do to help those guys get comfortable in their own shoes and get used to the college life—balancing hockey, class, and meeting new people, and all that type of stuff—because I just went through it,” Gauthier said of his leadership goals. “Just trying to make that transition for those guys really easy.”
With a revamped supporting cast and a full season of collegiate play under his belt, Gauthier has his eyes locked on perhaps the only accomplishment to elude him last season—some hardware.
“I’m looking to win some big accomplishments,” Gauthier said. “And obviously the end goal is winning the national championship with the team.”