I’m going back to Boston University and I want to have a great year and win a national championship with my team. - Brandon Hickey
CALGARY, AB -- When watching Boston University defenceman Brandon Hickey glide up the ice, it is pretty easy to see why he has been compared to Calgary Flames blueliner TJ Brodie.
Both rearguards are smooth skaters who are lauded for their two-way game. Sharp in the defensive zone, limiting their opponents time and space, they also both thrive on a fast-paced, north-south game that allows them to jump into the rush and get in on the attack.
"A guy who likes to move the puck, uses his feet really well, but also defends really hard -- I think that is a really good comparison for myself," he told CalgaryFlames.com. "I like to move my feet and add offence from the back-end."
That penchant for production led to a strong freshman season for Hickey.
The Leduc, AB native netted six goals and ended the season with 17 points in 41 games. He was given ample time on the power play and racked up three markers and six points with the man advantage. He also fired 115 shots on net, averaging 2.80 shots per game.
He was no slouch in the defensive zone, either.
The 19-year-old was a plus-19 in his first year with the Terriers, wasn't shy to use his 6-foot-2, 177-pound frame to muscle opponents off the puck, and led Boston University in blocked shots with 91.
Hickey credits Boston University head coach David Quinn for helping him polish up his game throughout the course of the year.
"I feel like I’m more well-rounded," he mused. "I've improved a lot of my offensive game and I just feel like I can contribute a bit more from the back-end.
"Also defensively -- Coach Quinn has been really good with all of our defencemen working in the d-zone. He really stresses that. He’s just helped improve my game a ton this year."
All of the hard work Hickey and his Terrier teammates put in throughout the season paid off when they captured the 2015 Hockey East Championship with a 5-3 victory over Umass Lowell on Mar. 21.
They also won the 2015 Beanpot Tournament and went all the way to the final at Frozen Four, ultimately falling 4-3 to Mark Jankowski, Jon Gillies, John Gilmour and the Providence College Friars in the championship game.
And while he is proud of those accomplishments, some of Hickey's fondest memories of his freshman season are tied to the friendships formed throughout the year.
With only three seniors on the roster, the Terriers were a young group who bonded instantly. Hickey became close with his fellow freshman Jack Eichel, who won the 2015 Hobey Baker Award and went second overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.
"It was a pretty special experience," he said of his freshman year. "The team is really tight-knit and guys like Jack, you expect them to be like cocky or whatever. But he’s really not. He’s a grounded guy. He’s one of my best friends on the team I’d say. Seeing those guys who go really high in the draft and seeing how hard they work every day in the gym and on the ice, it’s pretty special."
Given how well his first year in Boston went, questions have been asked about how long he will choose to stay with the Terriers. At the moment, he isn't concentrating on when he will make the leap to the pro ranks. He is focusing in on his sophomore season and heading back to the Frozen Four next spring.
"[The Flames] just want to see me have a good year in college this year," he said. "We’ll see where everything is at this time next year – if I have a good year, we’ll see what happens.
"I’m going back to Boston University and I want to have a great year and win a national championship with my team."