Teddy Doherty comes from a deep-rooted college hockey family, so you can imagine what a thrill it was for him to hold the NCAA championship trophy right after Boston College won the title in 2001.
He was 7 years old.
One of Doherty’s uncles, Marty Hughes, was a star on that team. “Since then, that’s been my goal, to win a national championship at BC,” said Doherty.
He’s got a chance. The 18-year-old freshman defenseman from Hopkinton is playing a key role in the Eagles’ quest for another title this winter.
It was impossible for Doherty to escape hockey. Another uncle, Jimmy Hughes, was a first-team Hockey East player at Providence.
“What I really remember my Uncle Marty telling me was to always put two hands on the stick. I had a habit of just using one hand,” Doherty said.
But it was his dad who offered consistent instruction and encouragement that nurtured the boy. Ed Doherty was a two-time Tri-Valley League all-star at Medfield High, where he played for Jimmy Morgan, brother of ex-Red Sox manager Joe Morgan. Ed went on to play at Bentley University. He took Teddy to all the BC games.
“My dad’s obviously been the biggest influence on me,” said Doherty. “He’d tell me the things I did good and what I needed to do better. He drove me everywhere for tournaments, even Canada.”
Doherty lived in Franklin until the family moved to Hopkinton when he was 5. He was on skates at 3 on a backyard rink. He played for a youth team, the Demons, made up of players from Ashland, Holliston, and Hopkinton.
Doherty moved on to the Assabet Valley program in Concord. In 2009, he enrolled at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn., famous for prepping players for the highest levels of hockey. Sidney Crosby is among the future NHL players who went to Shattuck.
Doherty was hooked on Shattuck — where he also played lacrosse — on his first visit. “It’s an absolutely stunning campus,” he said.
He played hockey for three years and won a national championship in his last year. After his sophomore year, he made the US U-17 select team that played in the Five Nation Tournament in Switzerland, where he was the top scoring defenseman.
BC coach Jerry York was at the tournament, and Doherty’s play caught his eye. “Jerry told me he’d have a spot for Teddy” at Boston College, Ed Doherty said.
“In the two games I saw Teddy,’’ York said, “I could tell he had an understanding of the game.”
Last year Doherty played for the Dubuque Fighting Saints, an Iowa team in the US Hockey League. “It was completely different. I was the youngest kid on the team. It was physical, really fast, and intense. I had good moments, and I struggled. But I wanted to be an effective player in college. I had to play against a better level of players.” The 5-foot-9, 178-pound blue liner had two goals and 14 assists.
On Doherty’s size, York said, “We’ll be working on his strength in the off-season.”
Doherty, the second-youngest player in Hockey East, had a goal and seven assists for BC through 14 games. The goal came against archnemesis Boston University. “My dream,” he called it. York paired Doherty with senior defenseman Patrick Wey. “He’s taught me everything since day 1,” said Doherty. “I struggled early, which unfortunately had an effect on him. I’m more of an offensive defenseman.” Wey’s patience has since been rewarded.
Doherty has gotten a lot of help from Greg Brown, BC’s assistant head coach. Brown, from Southborough, was a two-time first team All-American defenseman at BC. Doherty was 16 when Brown saw him play at Shattuck. “We were impressed with his poise and the way he moved the puck,” said Brown.
Doherty is the oldest of Ed and Jeanne Doherty’s five children. Two brothers play at St. John’s High in Shrewsbury. “Teddy’s got hockey in his blood,” said Brown. “The adjustment to college hockey is different for everybody. It’s a big jump. Some kids can make it quickly.”
In the Doherty household it’s not “Hockey, anyone?” It’s “Hockey everyone!”Lenny Megliola can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.