Boston University coach David Quinn has a chance to become a hero on campus and a pariah at the country club all at the same time.
The Rhode Island native and former BU player will be on the bench when the Terriers face Providence in the NCAA hockey championship Saturday night. It would be BU's sixth men's hockey title; Providence is looking for its first.
"I know it's been a long time coming for Providence. It's been a great program for a long time," Quinn said Friday, a day after the Terriers advanced to the title game with a 5-3 victory over North Dakota in the Frozen Four semifinals. "I'm happy for the team. I'm happy for the school. But I will be happier to beat them."
Quinn's divided loyalty is symbolic of the local flavor at this year's Frozen Four, where two Hockey East teams about an hour's drive apart will compete for the national championship at Boston's TD Garden.
With Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Eichel, a freshman who led the nation in scoring, BU (28-7-5) finished atop the conference in the regular season and won its postseason tournament; Providence (25-13-2) finished second before losing in the quarterfinals and waiting for an invitation to the NCAAs.
"We felt like we had a second life," PC coach Nate Leaman said. "We had a near miss. I think it was probably a good thing for us, because it increased our level of desperation, it brought us together, I think, as a group, and we've been playing our best hockey."
The teams met twice during the season - each winning on the road in the fall. The 4-1 loss to BU on Oct. 31 dropped the Friars to 1-3-1.
"They took it to us that first night. But the second night we rebounded, and that's been our philosophy all year," Providence forward Shane Luke said. "We're a pretty tight-knit group. When things don't go the right way, you have to stick together. This year we had a lot of ups and downs, and during the times we were down we came together."
For the Terriers, the rebound has been two years in the making.
A BU player from 1984-88 and an assistant on the BU team that won the school's last title, in 2009, Quinn took over the BU job from Jack Parker when he retired after 40 years in 2013. The Terriers went 10-21-4 in his first season.
A year later, they have a chance at the national championship. But to get it, the native of Cranston, Rhode Island, and member of the Wannamoisett Country Club in East Providence will have to go through the Friars.
"I've been engaged in a lot of fun text exchanges since last night," Quinn said, adding that he couldn't share any without cleaning up the language. "A lot of guys loved me going into last night's game and a lot of them don't like me now."