Boston University's Matt Gilroy resisted the lure of NHL money this past summer. Now he's one win away from an NCAA championship and is the winner of college hockey's highest honor.
Gilroy, a senior defenseman from North Bellmore, won the Hobey Baker Award, given to the NCAA's top ice hockey player, during festivities Friday at the NCAA Frozen Four at Verizon Center in Washington.
"I have a bad case of laryngitis from screaming so much," Peggy Gilroy, Matt's mother, said. "It's unbelievable, we're all so thrilled."
Gilroy is the second BU player to receive the award, joining current Ranger Chris Drury, who won it in 1998.
Gilroy had offers from several NHL teams but decided to return to BU in part to play with his younger brother, Kevin, a freshman, and to help restore the storied program to glory.
"He had a lot of pressure to go pro last season," Peggy Gilroy said. "He kind of went against what everyone was telling him because he felt he deserved to give back to for giving him the chance. He said there were three reasons to come back, he wanted to graduate, he wanted some time with his brother Kevin and he really felt like there was unfinished business at BU."
This season, the former St. Mary's High captain had eight goals and 28 assists and captained a BU team that entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.
Gilroy, who has played in 145 consecutive games, was the top-scoring defenseman in Hockey East and ranks third among all defensemen in the nation.
Gilroy helped St. Mary's to four state titles. Despite all the success, he was not highly recruited out of high school and wound up walking on at BU.
"They told him he could be on the practice team," St. Mary's coach Henry Lazar said. "He gained a lot of confidence playing on the big stage at BU. All the mental parts caught up with his physical ability and that really made him blossom out. Long Island should be proud, I know the St. Mary's alumni will be."
Long Island has another reason to be proud as facing off against the Gilroys will be Bayport native Pat Cannone. Lazar said seeing Gilroy and Cannone in the final is a great example for young players on L.I.
"He's a good role model for kids who don't think they have a chance to do something," Lazar said. "He showed that even a guy who wasn't recruited at all can be captain of the team that's one win away from a championship. It's a storybook ending to a storybook career."