With the score tied 2-2 in the East Regional Final, Boston University sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby announced his presence in a major way. The New York Islanders prospect stepped up and laid out Minnesota Duluth forward Tony Cameranesi with an open ice hit that sent the Bulldog hurtling to the ice.
"I thought without question Doyle's hit changed the complexion of the game," said BU coach David Quinn.
It wasn't the first time, and it wouldn't be the last, that Somerby played a major role in helping the Terriers to their first appearance in the Frozen Four since winning it all in 2009.
Somerby was on the ice for the final seconds of each game. The Marblehead, Mass. native pinched in and forced a turnover, leading to Danny O'Regan's overtime tally in a 3-2 win over Yale in the regional semifinal. A night later, his physicality forced Duluth to the perimeter and out of the zone in the waning seconds of regulation to help BU preserve a 3-2 win.
"He was immense," said Quinn, the second year coach of the Terriers immediately following the win in the Northeast Regional Final. "He did a great job the last 20 seconds with the goalie pulled. He did a great job jumping the guy down to the left of our goalie. Doyle took charge. He took his six-five body and 12 inch stick and attacked the guy. The guy panicked and threw it into the neutral zone."
Just seeing Somerby on the ice in a pressure situation might be a surprise to some who haven't been paying close attention, but the Kimball Union Academy product has developed leaps and bounds under the tutelage of Quinn, a known defensive guru.
"He was as good a player as we had," added Quinn after the team's win over UMD.
As a freshman, Somerby showed signs of why the Islanders drafted him in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft, but he too often made rookie mistakes. He couldn't seem to reel in his physical play and was caught flat footed and out of position more often than not.
Somerby experienced a little bit of a lull during the middle portion of this season, but by and large, he's been tremendous. His skating has improved, he's much more agile on his feet and has been fleet footed in all three zones.
"He had a great first half. I thought he was just OK for a period of time. He's really elevated his game. He's been a lot more decisive. He's making good decisions and being very active on the forecheck," explained Quinn.
While he'll likely never possess the stick skills or skating prowess of some of his defensive teammates, Somerby brings a physical presence that could be invaluable as the Terriers look to capture the school's sixth national championship this weekend.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.