It’s Underdog Week across SB Nation! Here’s a look at one of the Bruins’ many underdog stories.
It is rare for players to capture both a college hockey National Championship and a Stanley Cup while playing in Boston. For Colby Cohen, his journey to both was not always certain, but he definitely made the most of all his opportunities.
While he no longer plays hockey professionally, his role as a part of hockey in New England cannot be downplayed. As a rising star defenseman and part of the U.S. National Team Development Program, it seemed Cohen would become a household name starting with his time at Boston University.
But before he could finish out his final year of junior hockey, controversy struck. Cohen left the U.S. NTDP to play for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL after growing unhappy with his playing time. With Lincoln, Cohen recorded 60 points in just 53 games and entered the collegiate ranks as one of the nation’s premier young point-producing defenseman.
Drafted by Colorado in the second round of the 2007 draft, Cohen enrolled at BU but struggled to adjust to the speed of college hockey. In his first year, he only had 16 points as the Terriers missed the NCAA Tournament and barely stayed above .500.
But in 2008-09, Cohen and his team turned it up a notch.
Cohen became one of the team’s top scorers and was playing near the level of that year’s Hobey Baker winner, Matt Gilroy. Cohen would prove to be a vital member of the team down the stretch, scoring the winning goal in the National Championship game against Miami University to cap off one of the most incredible comebacks in tournament history.
Cohen, then a sophomore, earned tournament MVP for his efforts.
After his junior year, Cohen turned pro, signing with the Colorado organization. He played in 19 games for the Avalanche the following year, recording four assists. But on December 29, 2010, Cohen was dealt to Boston for Matt Hunwick.
The deal marked a return to the place where Cohen found success, but perhaps derailed his chances at quickly returning to the NHL level. The Bruins were deep defensively as an organization, and adding Cohen certainly helped create a layered depth chart at the position.
And for Cohen, opportunities came quickly at the AHL level. With Providence, Cohen played in 46 of the final games for the Bruins’ affiliate, though his point-production had dropped considerably.
Still, Boston elevated him to the postseason roster in their Stanley Cup-winning endeavor and earned a ring, though he never played a postseason game.
Cohen never suited up in the NHL for the Bruins, and only had 41 total points in three years with Providence before departing for Europe. The defenseman had the potential to eventually be elevated to the Bruins lineup, but fell just short.
Still, Cohen is among a select few to win championships at both the college and professional levels in Boston. And even though his efforts at a pro career fell short, he will be remembered as a BU hockey folk hero and an overlooked Bruins prospect who still won a ring.
To put it simply, he was an easy guy to root for in Boston hockey circles.
Though he has since retired from hockey, Cohen is still around the New England area as an analyst for NESN and ESPN.