Josh Couturier got his first taste of Division 1 college hockey this past winter playing defense as a freshman with Boston College in a year that saw the Byfield native and his Eagles teammates hoist the Beanpot Trophy before ultimately earning a spot in the NCAA Frozen Four.

Couturier enjoyed his time with the maroon and gold, and he will always remember the college on Chestnut Hill fondly as the place where he broke onto the D1 college scene, but ultimately, BC just wasn’t the right fit. 

After much deliberation, Couturier has decided to forgo the 2016/2017 season as he has officially transferred to UMass Amherst where he will join the Minutemen after taking a year off from hockey as required by the NCAA.

“Mainly I thought it was a better fit for me and my family,” Couturier said of the big move. “Obviously I’ll have to sit out, but I think it’s a good financial decision for my family and a decision for me as a hockey player moving forward.”

After registering 38 points on 16 goals and 22 assists in 49 games playing for the Boston Junior Bruins two years ago, Couturier found his way into the BC line up as a freshman, playing 33 games and scoring a pair of goals and four assists with five of those points coming in Hockey East action. 

But with five defensemen returning to the Eagles from last year’s roster, along with an influx of new talent, Couturier felt, for the betterment of his development as a potential pro player, it was best to make the move to UMass where new head coach Greg Carvel looks to begin the rebuilding process in his first year with the Minutemen this winter.

“Playing at Boston College was great. I learned a lot from coach (Jerry) York, coach (Greg) Brown and coach (Mike) Ayers, they taught me a lot defensively and offensively,” said Couturier, who had forgotten how much he enjoyed playing for a school after he gave up his remaining high school days at Central Catholic to play juniors. 

“It’s a great school. Being out of school for two years was hard and (BC is a) premier institution, but me teammates were great, we won the beanpot and going to the Frozen Four was an unreal experience. But I think for my develoipment, it’s better to go to UMass and kind of start over.’

The jump from the United States Premier Hockey League to Division 1 college was a big one, and Couturier had to adapt to the increased speed of the game. But he also said that along with playing against better competition, he had more polished teammates. All the guys knew their assignments and how to play they’re respective positions, so everything seemed to come together on the ice more smoothly than it did when he was with the Boston junior Bruins.

Now, with a year off of the ice, Couturier aims to focus his efforts on strength training.

“I’m just going to take this year to get better. I’m going to live in the weight room, get really strong and take care of my body and just be that much more developed for the following year,” said Couturier, who is a big, physical defenseman with a booming shot.

“Since I’m a big guy and being a big defenseman, there’s nothing wrong with trying to get quicker. If you’re a big D who is quick, I think that’s key in order to try and play at the (pro) level. So I’m going to continue to work on my skating and all aspects of my game, work my hands and keep working on my shot, which is something I take pride in and I’m going to keep working on it to make it the best I can.”

A few years ago, Couturier was put in touch with Mike Buckley, who runs Goaltender Development Services out of North Andover, and for the last half decade, Couturier has lent his shooting skills to Buckley, firing on goalies of all different levels. Couturier and Buckley’s GSA work out of the rink in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Couturier may not be able to play with the Minutemen until the 2017/2018 season, but with the added time off he can get a jump on his studies as he will be studying business at the Isenberg School of Management.

“This year I’m going to work on my school work as well,” said Couturier. “I want to get a degree in business because that will go a long way after hockey is over.”

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