For two years in a row, he came oh so close. For two years in a row, he took his team to the Frozen Four, but both times, it bowed out in the semifinals.
The thought of what it might feel like to win a national title made his decision about the next step toward his future that much harder. He wanted to become a Bruin; he just struggled with whether he was ready to give up on that one item on his bucket list.
In the end, though, McIntyre decided the time was right. The situation was right. And so on Tuesday — nearly five years to the day after they selected him in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Draft — Boston announced that McIntyre has indicated he will sign an entry-level contract with the Bruins
“My goal when I was drafted was to play for them one day, and it’s actually an exciting time in my life where I have a good opportunity here to come into the organization and really just dictate with my play what’s going to happen with myself and everything like that,” McIntyre said. “I couldn’t be happier with an Original Six team like Boston. It’s a really good feeling right now.”
When McIntyre hinted that anything could happen in the next few months, he meant it. Boston has not yet signed anyone to serve as Tuukka Rask’s backup in 2015-16, and it could be anybody. It could even be McIntyre, should he impress the Bruins brass during rookie camp and training camp.
McIntyre could also end up in Providence this season, but even if that is the case, he knows it will serve as an opportunity to continue the steady progress he has made over the last three seasons at North Dakota, where he has trimmed his goals-against average from 2.46 to 2.05.
“Obviously, if you look anywhere in the league, there’s going to be competition in any position and, if I look at my track record, I’ve had my fair share of competition, too,” he said. “I really enjoyed it, and really have grown and developed, and I think that’s maybe one of the reasons why I’m here where I’m at, is the amount of competition I’ve been through.
“It’s no different here in Boston, where you’ve got Tuukka Rask — one of the best goalies in the NHL — and [Jeremy] Smith and [Malcolm] Subban as well. So it’s been great. It will be a great challenge, but something I’m really looking forward to — to really get in there and show what I’m worth and make some things happen.
“I think every player in the NHL knows that their play dictates where they’re going to be, so I’m just coming in and going to work my tail off and go from there.”
It took some time for McIntyre to get to this point. There was a time when the idea of becoming an NHL goalie might have been a dream; now, it is on the cusp of becoming a reality, and for helping him get there, McIntyre credits coach Karl Goehring, with whom he worked to improve his technique over the last several seasons.
“I think before, when I was in high school, the [scouting report] of me was just kind of an athletic goalie who didn’t really have much technique, I guess — kind of a raw project,” he said. “I think all of the aspects in a lot of areas I’ve tried to clean up throughout my time in junior, and in college as well.
“Working with Karl Goehring here — he’s done a great job just [helping me] clean up, whether it’s save selections, whether it’s movement — stuff like that, and different techniques.”
Still, as any player in his position would admit, there are areas in which he needs to improve before he takes that next step.
“I think jumping to the next level will obviously be a step, and I think I need to really work on my net play — just working on my pipes, with the reverse VH, the VH and the jam position as well,” he said. “It’s three different techniques that have kind of come along over the past couple of years, so I think if I can improve that — and also battling through traffic and screens — I think that will be the two areas I will really try and target in trying to get better, here.”
This past season — during which McIntyre compiled a 29-10-3 record with a .929 save percentage — culminated in a Hobey Baker nomination. He also snagged the Mike Richter Award, given to the NCAA’s best goalie.
The only way the 2014-15 season could have ended any better was with a national title on the TD Garden ice.
“With deciding to come back to school or not, or try to pursue my dream and NHL career, it’s a double-edged sword,” McIntyre admitted. “It’s so awesome, but at the same time, it was super nerve-racking and difficult.
“But I’ve really come to terms with where I am in life, and I think this is the best fit for me here in Boston. Obviously, since the season ended — back in Boston actually, at the Frozen Four — it’s been an ongoing process of just weighing options.”
This summer will be different from those in McIntyre’s past. For the first time in a long time, he won’t be heading back for another season in Grand Forks, though he does plan to train at North Dakota and even skate with his former teammates. He still plans to attend Boston’s development camp in July, as he has for the last four summers, but in the surrounding weeks, he will also train in Minnesota with goaltending coach Dave Rogalski, with whom he has worked since his senior year of high school.
And after that, he will hit the ice in Boston and begin making a case for his future as a Bruin.
“Coming to training camp will kind of set the tone for myself and for the organization, I guess, to be honest,” McIntyre said. “I have to prove to myself and everyone there that I can play at the next level. It’s almost back to square one, in terms of setting your foundation up, building good habits and going from there, and gaining momentum as you go throughout the year.
“So I think with coming into training camp, I just have to come in in shape and ready to play good hockey and go from there. By no means, not a lot of pressure or anything, but just come in and do well and see what happens.”