ANDOVER — Matt Quercia simply knew.
Sitting in the stands at the TD Garden, watching Boston University take home the 2007 Beanpot hockey tournament title, then-8-year-old Quercia began to picture himself on the ice, wearing a red and white Terriers jersey.
“Since that day, I knew that if I could play hockey for any school in the world, it would be BU,” said Quercia. “I had a dream, and my dream came true.”
Andover resident Quercia has accepted a scholarship offer to play hockey for Boston University, likely starting in the 2018-19 season.
The 17-year-old was also recently selected in the sixth round of the United States Hockey League draft by the Sioux Falls Stampede, where he plans to refine his skills before heading to Hockey East.
“It has been a life-changing couple of months,” said Quercia. “I can’t believe everything that has happened for me. It has really all been kind of shocking. It truly is my dream come true.”
Quercia played for Andover High as a freshman in 2013-14, leading the Golden Warriors in goals (11).
The following season, the 6-foot-2 center moved on to play junior hockey for the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs out of Hooksett, N.H. Last winter, he began the season with the under-16 team before being promoted to the Eastern Hockey League. He finished the season with 26 goals and was named team captain.
It was during that time that he caught the attention of Boston University hockey.
“I heard that the (BU) coaches had been talking to my Monarchs coaches and that they could be around,” he said. “Then in February, (Terriers) coach (David) Quinn came to one of my games and I was stunned to see him.
“From there, he talked to my advisor, Peter Fish. He said he liked me very much but said he would have to watch me a few more times. They needed a month or so to decide.”
Quercia, who had already been offered by the University of New Hampshire, Northeastern and the University of Connecticut, became even more driven with BU now on the radar.
“Once I saw them, I knew it was time to work my butt off and do all I could to get their attention,” he said. “My dream school was there. I had to do all that I could.”
Finally, while headed out to see friends on April 16, Quercia received the call he had dreamed of.
“It was about 8 p.m. and I was driving to a friend’s house,” he said. “My phone ran and it was the call saying that BU wanted to offer me a scholarship. It was amazing. It was the dream I had been dreaming since I was a kid. I called my dad right away and told him. I knew there was no way I could say no.”
Two days later, on April 18, Quercia officially accepted the offer from the Terriers.
“I’m thrilled for Matt and his family,” said Monarchs head coach and general manager Ryan Frew in a release. “Boston University has been his dream school since he was young. He is a dynamic player, who plays a heavy game and can really shoot it. The kid is clutch and scored some big goals. He’s fun to watch, and he never gets intimidated.”
There was more big news in store for Quercia a month later, when he became pick No. 91 overall in the USHL draft by Sioux Falls. The USHL is the country’s premier junior hockey league, where the vast majority of America-born Division 1 hockey prospects play prior to college.
“I was pretty confidence I would be drafted, but I had no idea by who,” said Quercia. “I was watching the draft on my cell phone at school when I saw my name pop up. I was so thrilled. It’s a huge honor to be drafted into the best junior hockey league around. And it’s comforting to know where I’m going.”
Quercia will next play a season for the United State Premier Hockey League’s Islanders Hockey Club out of Tyngsboro while completing his senior year at Andover High. He was also in Buffalo the last two weeks for a USA National Team camp.
He now is looking to continue his growth with the USHL and Hockey East on the horizon.
“I feel like the first 17 years of my life had been working towards this,” he said. “Now I have to better myself for Boston University. A new journey begins now, and in a few years another new journey will start with BU.”
Boston University hockey recruit Matt Quercia of Andover comes from an impressive athletic family.
His father Greg Quercia played hockey for Bentley University (1983-87).
Matt’s cousin Jessica Leone (Andover High class of 2014) was an Eagle-Tribune All-Star in ice hockey and field hockey. She now plays club field hockey at Penn State.
Her sister Jacquelyn Leone was a star in ice hockey at Tabor Academy and played last winter for the Mass Spitfires U19 team. She will play her college hockey at Colgate. Their brother Michael Leone is a promising incoming freshman for Andover High.
Reach sportswriter/videographer David Willis on Twitter at @DWillisET