By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff
At the end of the 2012-13 season, many wondered if then-junior defenseman Garrett Noonan would join teammate Matt Nieto and make the jump from the collegiate ranks up to a potential spot on an NHL roster.
Drafted in the fourth round (112th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators, Noonan had already built an impressive resume during his first three years at BU (2-0, 1-0 Hockey East), with 61 points in 110 games and a spot on the All-Hockey East Second Team squad in 2011-12.
Despite the pressure to move on to the NHL, Noonan chose to remain at BU for his senior year, eventually earning the title of captain, along with senior defenseman Patrick MacGregor, of the current 2013-14 team.
Now, just two games into the early season, it seems like Noonan’s decision to stay is paying off for both the Terriers and the Norfolk native, as Noonan has made a huge impact both on and off the ice for BU so far this year.
The Terriers got off to a good start under new head coach David Quinn, as they defeated both the University of Massachusetts and College of the Holy Cross during weekend tilts at Agganis Arena. Noonan made his presence felt in both contests, as he scored a goal in the season-opening win against the Minutemen (0-2, 0-1 Hockey East) and racked up two assists in BU’s 3-2 win over the Crusaders (0-1) Saturday night.
Noonan is already making a difference on offense, as he is second on the team and tied for fifth in Hockey East with three points in two games.
“He’s really had a great start to the season, not only what you’re seeing on the ice, but away from the rink,” Quinn said Saturday. “He’s in great shape — he’s in the best shape he’s ever been in. He physically looks different.”
Junior forward Cason Hohmann, whose second-period goal against Holy Cross was assisted by Noonan, shared Quinn’s sentiments in that Noonan has really stepped his game up far this season.
“You can tell he’s definitely gotten better over the summer. He’s way faster than he was last year, he’s got more jump, he’s all over the place,” Hohmann said. “When we score goals, he’s all around it, so everything pretty much goes through him at some point. So on the power play, he’s a threat anytime he gets the puck, so I think he’s come back even better than last year.”
While Noonan has made an impact on the stat sheet this season, Hohmann noted that 22-year-old Noonan has also had a huge impact on the team in other areas, as he’s taken up the mantle as one of the leaders for the Terriers this season.
“Yeah, I think he’s really come to his leadership role very well,” Hohmann said. “He’s a quiet leader at times, and other times he’s very vocal. He leads by example on the ice very well. When he says something in the locker room, everyone pays attention. I think he’s a great leader for this team.”
It would be an understatement to say that the 2013-14 Terriers are a young squad, with 18 of the 25 players on the roster are freshmen or sophomores. Given that ratio, Noonan has made it a priority to help out these unseasoned players, both on and off the ice.
“From the freshmen standpoint, he’s been great to us,” said freshman forward Nick Roberto. “Really helping us, especially in the weight room, like telling us what to do and then on ice, he’s teaching us like the little things to help our games, so it’s been beneficial for us.”
There are a lot of games to be played in the 2013-14 campaign, but if the Terriers are going to make some noise in Hockey East this year, odds are that Noonan will be one of the chief factors.
“He’s been a great leader from the first minute I got here,” Quinn said. “We’re going to need him to do the things he did this weekend if we’re going to have success."