Rarely does an NHL team have such deep ties to a college hockey program. However, with three of their top prospects attending the same school, the Nashville Predators and Boston University share a unique bond.
Dante Fabbro, Patrick Harper and David Farrance are not just three of Nashville’s most talented prospects, they also share the ice at BU. Fabbro and Harper were taken in the first and fifth rounds respectively in the 2016 draft, and Farrance was Nashville’s third-round pick last year.
In addition to enduring a grueling 40-game college hockey season together, all three got to compete alongside each other at Predators development camp at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville last week.
“It’s great and it makes everything more comfortable,” Farrance said of having his two BU teammates at development camp. “It’s good having them around and they’re both great guys and it’s great to have them here.”
The 2017-18 season was a trying one, not just for the Nashville trio, but for the BU Terriers as a whole. With eight goals and 21 points through the first 20 games, Harper was on the cusp of a breakout season. However, an undisclosed condition kept him sidelined for the rest of the regular season and NCAA tournament.
“I had a little bit of a scare coming back from the World Junior tournament,” Harper said. “I had the flu for about a week and then the doctors said they found something, but it turned out to not be a big deal. I had to take the second half of the season off because of it, but luckily it ended up not being a big deal and it was taken care of in an orderly fashion. I’m very thankful for that.”
Furthermore, with one of its most lethal scorers out of the lineup, BU was sitting with a sub-.500 record and didn’t appear to be in great shape for the postseason. With Harper down, the Terriers rallied. BU went on a nine-game unbeaten streak and won six consecutive games to climb back into the thick of the Hockey East tournament.
During the tournament, BU knocked off UConn twice, No. 14-ranked Boston College and No. 9-ranked Providence to win the Hockey East title for the first time since 2015 and qualify for the NCAA tournament.
In the Northeast Regional, the Terriers upset heavily-favored Cornell before falling to national champion runner-up Michigan in the Elite Eight.
“The team was (8-10-2), but from the moment we came close to beating Denver, I knew we had a pretty special team,” Harper said. “I think when I went down, the team stepped up and that’s what you get at BU. Getting back to the Elite Eight is special, and we’re looking to build off that next year and get some trophies.”
“It was unbelievable with the group of guys we had and what we were able to accomplish,” Fabbro told Nashvillepredators.com. “A lot of credit to the guys around me and the coaching staff. The way our season started, it was pretty disastrous. Then, we were able to go on a run in the last half and make the (NCAA) tournament, obviously (didn’t like) the way it ended, but it was a memorable one for sure.”
With the postseason success Fabbro, Harper and Farrance shared, former BU alumni and members of the Predators’ front office reached out to congratulate the trio, including current Predators’ assistant general manager Jeff Kealty and Paul Fenton, who held the same title before accepting the GM job with the Minnesota Wild.
“I know when we won the Hockey East, we got a text from those guys just congratulating us and them talking about how proud they are as alumni of the school,” Harper recalled. “It’s definitely a very special and a strong bond between BU and the Predators with Fabbro, Farrance and myself.”
Fabbro and Harper are about to enter their junior years, while Farrance will begin his sophomore campaign. Fabbro was recently named co-captain for the upcoming season, Harper is looking to get back to his point-per-game play of last season, Farrance is looking to nail down a full-time role on the blue line, and all three are hungry for a national championship.