As the Boston University Terriers look to capture their fourth straight Hockey East title, the program shall attempt to do so without legendary backstop Kerrin Sperry. Having rewritten the Terriers record books, Sperry leaves behind some big shoes to fill. Hoping to be able to extend her legacy is freshman goaltender Erin O’Neil.
Hailing from Minnetonka, Minnesota, O’Neill has already compiled some impressive hardware as a high school athlete. Having attended Hopkins high school, her graduation was complemented by three impressive honors.
The first of which consisted of the 2014 Athena Award. Given to the best overall athlete of her high school, it is voted on by all the varsity head coaches. As a side note, she did not win the award only on hockey accomplishments alone. A prominent softball player, O’Neill earned recognition for excelling at the catcher position, while serving as team captain. In addition, she was also awarded the captaincy on the hockey team.
Also a leader off the ice, she was recognized for her volunteer work with Special Olympics, winning the Minnesota Distinguished Family Service Award. Earlier in 2014, she was a member of the Under-18 USA hockey team and was honored as the recipient of the Let’s Play Hockey Senior Goalie of The Year award, recognizing the best goaltender in Minnesota high school hockey.
Playing for head coach Vin Paolucci at Hopkins, she compiled a 17-5-0 record, a sparkling save percentage of .948 (fourth in the state), complemented by seven shutouts and a miniscule 1.25 goals against average (fifth in the state). She would prove to be a key factor in Hopkins earning a number 4 ranking in Class AA.
Suiting up for Hockey East powerhouse Boston University, O’Neil’s NCAA debut was a baptism of fire. Competing against the defending NCAA tournament runner-up Minnesota Golden Gophers, a true Welcome to the NCAA moment if there ever was one, O’Neill made 23 saves on 28 shots.Statistically, she logged a save percentage of .821, 57:50 minutes of ice time and a goals against average of 5.19 in the loss. Coincidentally, Sperry’s final game was also against Minnesota (during the 2014 NCAA tournament). Although O’Neil’s debut may have been a difficult one, it may serve as a defining moment, motivating her to work harder and become the backstop that may one day challenge Sperry’s records while maintaining the Terriers’ standing as one of the nation’s best programs.