As a draft pick of the New York Islanders, Boston University senior forward Corey Trivino may well have found last month’s “Red Hot Hockey” game against Cornell at Madison Square Garden to be good practice for the future.
After all, while the Terriers certainly had their share of fans at the World’s Most Famous Arena last weekend, the majority of the sell-out crowd of 18,200 came from the ranks of Cornell students, alumni and fans. And, in the end, after Ross Gaudet scored in overtime to give BU the win, Trivino could claim a hand in sending the majority of a Garden crowd home unhappy, a feat he hopes to repeat someday as a professional.
“One day I’ll be there again,” Trivino said of MSG. “Hopefully.”
However, when the senior from Toronto looks back on his team’s weekend in New York, it’s not his professional future he focuses on, but a night that’s sure to be a highlight of his senior season as a Terrier.
“Just to get the win and make sure that our fans left happy was a great feeling,” Trivino said. “It was a long trip to come all the way down to New York City, so I was really happy to get the outcome we wanted and for them to leave with a grin on their face.”
The Big Apple generally isn’t friendly to Boston teams – and the “Frozen Fenway” replica jerseys many Terrier fans sported last weekend wouldn’t do them any favors – but in a sense, it’s fitting that these Terriers would feel at home there. After all, one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world is the perfect place for a hockey team whose players come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, including Latino (sophomore forward Matt Nieto and junior forward Ryan Santana), Arabic (sophomore forward Sahir Gill), and Caribbean (freshman forward Yasin Cisse).
Trivino, in fact, represents the first generation of his family born in Canada, as both of his parents hail from Argentina. And, while Trivino’s athletic pursuits have taken him down a path that’s hardly common in South America, he’s found a way to pay tribute to his heritage whenever he takes the ice, as he wears the No. 10 jersey to honor Diego Maradona, hero of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup victory.
“Growing up, we watched a lot of soccer games together,” Trivino said, “and I used to watch Diego Maradona play. To me, he’s the best soccer player who’s ever played the game. When people ask me why I wear the number, I tell them, and it seems like they’re pretty surprised at me, being a hockey player, taking a number from a different sport, but that’s what I’ve grown up with.”
Trivino has his own penchant for finding the back of the net, sharing the Terriers’ team goals lead with Nieto at eight scores apiece. Despite his nod to Maradona, however, Trivino isn’t one to engage in the fairly popular pregame routine of kicking a soccer ball around in the depths of the arena on game day.
“Our team does that,” Trivino said, “but I like to try to focus on the game, and what I’m going to do.”
Overall, despite the mix of cultural and geographic backgrounds on the team – this season’s Terriers come from seven different states and four Canadian provinces – they see themselves as a team like any other, looking to capture the energy of performances like their wins over Cornell, then-No. 3 Denver and then-No. 2 Boston College and apply it over the course of the rest of their schedule.
“I feel like even though our team’s really diverse, we’re all part of the same family,” Trivino said.
Santana, who’s been out of the lineup due to injury this year after playing 61 games his first two seasons, echoed that feeling, saying, “Our team’s been pretty close from the get-go.”
Still, there’s something about a trip like the one the Terriers took in late November that can bring a team together, experiencing the bright lights of New York and the energy of Madison Square Garden as a group.
“New York’s a diverse city in itself,” Santana said. “Every corner, there’s a diverse group of people, so there’s kind of a similarity there. Definitely, when you play on a big stage like [MSG], guys get excited for that. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That definitely brought us together as a group.”
BU head coach Jack Parker definitely sees the value of the experience for his group.
“Just coming down here,” Parker said, “it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by it all some times. You drive the bus into New York City, and all of a sudden, you’re at Times Square, or you’re near Macy’s and you can’t believe the sea of people. After the meal, they were walking around, and they feel, ‘This is the real thing here.’ But I think that pales in comparison to when they get out [on the ice] and see a sea of red and hear how loud that crowd was.”
And, as the Terriers and Big Red continue to sell out the World’s Most Famous Arena every other year, it’s an experience that teams from BU and Cornell will continue to benefit from for years to come.