BOSTON - Matt Grzelcyk's dad has been a Boston arena worker for decades, covering up ice for basketball games, uncovering it for hockey or prepping the building for concerts. Grzelcyk (pronounced "Grizz-lick") was also drafted by his hometown Boston Bruins, so of course the city's famous college hockey trophy would be decided on the blade of one of its own.
Grzelcyk, Boston University's captain and top defenseman, ended the Beanpot tournament early in overtime Monday night with a slick wrister on the power play against Northeastern, netting him his first all-city title in three years with the Terriers, not to mention MVP honors.
"Our motto was definitely 'we have nothing to lose,' " he said. "We wanted to lay it all on the line."
Taken 85th overall by his hometown Bruins in 2012, Grzelcyk has been through the wars with Boston University. Last season was a mess on the ice and the years prior had been a mess off of it, with several unseemly incidents tainting the program's reputation. Coach David Quinn took over from the iconic Jack Parker last year and pointed to his leadership group of Grzelcyk, Evan Rodrigues and Cason Hohmann as the drivers for the turnaround. And Quinn certainly believes in his captain.
"No. 1, he's a great player and it's not by accident," Quinn said. "He sets such a great example and he's as likeable a kid as you're going to meet."
Part of the reason B.U. struggled last season was that Grzelcyk missed time with a shoulder injury, but the Terriers also have a pretty sweet freshman class this year. Leading that parade is 2015 draft star Jack Eichel, who was similar in his praise of the Terriers captain.
“He means everything," Eichel said. "From leadership on the ice to off the ice, just the person he is – you can learn so much from him, the way he conducts himself. He's a great kid and a great captain.”
The only upperclassman on the Terriers' blueline at the Beanpot, Grzelcyk comes in at just 5-foot-10, 176 pounds, but he's not afraid to bang around in the corners and stand his ground on the ice. He's mobile and offensively has developed a big slapshot, which he used to score earlier on in the game.
"I know he's been working on his shot for the past two years," Quinn said. "His two goals were a result of a lot of hard work."
Coming into the Beanpot final, the Terriers were ranked fourth in the country and now have a sturdy record of 20-6-5. With one trophy in their clutches, they can now try for a Hockey East conference title and even a national championship. For Grzelcyk, who was also named the Beanpot MVP, winning the all-Boston tournament was pretty sweet in itself.
"It's obviously been a childhood dream to win the Beanpot," he said. "We really wanted to make the most of it and we did."