You can call Boston College defenseman Nick Petrecki many things. Big. Strong. Skilled. Hard-hitting.
Now you can also call him a national champion after the Clifton Park, N.Y., native helped the Eagles to its third-ever NCAA title following two straight second-place finishes.
“A big part was helping get the seniors a win they never had,” said Petrecki, who provided steady play and punishing hits in BC’s nine-game winning streak to end the season. “There was a lot of emotion, and it was just incredible.”
Petrecki, 19, finished his freshman campaign with five goals, 12 points and a team-high 102 penalty minutes in 43 contests. A 2007 first-round draft choice (28th overall) of the San Jose Sharks, he first helped BC to the Beanpot Tournament title in February by scoring his first two career collegiate goals in a 6-5 win over Harvard, including the overtime game-winner that was highlighted on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Never mind that he closed his eyes just before rifling a rebound into the back of the Crimson cage to end it.
“It was more luck than anything,” said the 6-foot-3, 215-pound blueliner. “I didn’t want to miss that one.”
He later tallied BC’s first goal in a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime victory over Miami (Ohio) in the NCAA Regionals, two games before the Eagles claimed its second national crown in eight seasons with a 4-1 victory over Notre Dame.
“He just got better and better, and has the ability to add more of an offensive dimension to his game,” said BC Assistant Coach and former defenseman Greg Brown. “He has a knack for finding a seam when we need it.”
Petrecki earned a host of Junior hockey accolades, first close to home with the Capital District Selects, and later in the Midwest with the renowned Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League, before ultimately fulfilling a boyhood dream by suiting up for Boston College.
“I knew I wanted to play in one of the big leagues, and I always wanted to go to BC and play in the Beanpot,” said Petrecki, who regularly attended that tournament while growing up. “I also asked myself where I would have the best chance to win a national championship, and BC is only three hours from home.”
Petrecki started skating at 4 years old and later played for his father, who moved him back to the blueline.
"He just got better and better, and has the ability to add more of an offensive dimension to his game."
“I’ve played defense since my first year of Mites, when there weren’t enough defensemen,” said Petrecki. “I was always one of the bigger and stronger kids, and it also made me a better skater.”
He’s also had three medal-winning stints internationally. Petrecki collected gold in the 2005 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Switzerland, followed the next year by a silver-medal finish in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic, and a bronze-medal performance at the Viking Cup in Alberta.
“Those were a lot of fun,” he recalled. “I had great coaches, and it was great competition.”
He’d like to play in both the Olympics and the NHL in the future, but right now Petrecki remains focused on his college career.
“They [San Jose] have stayed in contact, but they’ve given me space, and that’s really nice,” said Petrecki, who received a congratulatory phone call from the Sharks after BC won the NCAA title.
He took some time off in June to help his father with his masonry business before going back to Beantown to prepare for next year.
“I’ve got a few years left,” said Petrecki, who refuses to rest on last season’s successes. “There’s still a lot of work to do.”
photo by Getty Images