After the 2019-20 season was cut short, the Boston College men’s hockey team lost four senior defensemen to graduation. This made sophomore Marshall Warren one of the more experienced defensemen on the roster to begin the 2020-21 season. While the BC defense remains strong and stable at this point, Warren has solidified himself as a reliable two-way player who continues to develop as a leader on & off the ice.
The 166th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft (chosen by the Minnesota Wild), Warren has seven points in 18 games this year, only four shy of reaching his 11-point freshman campaign. This is despite the shortened season due to COVID-19.
We sat down with Marshall this week to discuss how this season is going, what the postseason is going to look like, playing chess, and much more!
So, to start, you were actually committed to Harvard before you committed to BC — why did you choose Boston College?
Warren: For me honestly Boston College was a dream school since I was like, 11 or 12 years old and I always wanted to go to BC — I think it was the first college hockey game I ever went to. But I think the reason I wanted to go to BC was because you know, Coach York is a Hall of Fame coach and he has a really good culture here and there’s a really good combination of hockey and academics. For me academics is a big part of my family, so they got the best of both worlds here. I definitely picked the right school.
I think it’s so interesting how everyone has different [paths] to BC but came here for the same reason — like you came from committing to Harvard but ended up at BC for the exact same reason as players that committed to BC super early.
Going back to the draft, which feels like it was years ago — it kind of was — I know you’ve mentioned that you were projected to go earlier than you did, can you talk about how being drafted lower than you thought has motivated you?
Warren: Yeah, so I was actually at the draft in Vancouver and I played for the US National Team before going to BC — I think seventeen kids on our team got drafted and I was actually the last one. I was projected to go anywhere from 35[th overall] to 65[th overall] and I fell to 166 and I honestly was not expecting that in a big moment in my life that I’d been waiting for. It was unfortunate that I went that late but honestly it motivated me and I think it’s just like a day in history that’s going to help define my life. I really think about it a lot because I play with all these guys that are drafted a lot higher or ahead of me at certain times and I’m like alright, well I’m just as good and it’s not going to define who I am. I think it’s something that was cool and something I had always wanted in my life — getting drafted is obviously such a special moment.
So you were drafted to Minnesota, and there are 3 other Wild prospects on the roster right now - has that given you guys a special bond as you go through college and the development process; if so, can you talk a little bit more about it?
Warren: Yeah I think me, Bolds [Matt Boldy], Bainer [Jack McBain], and Nikita [Nesterenko] all went to development camp last summer — no, two summers ago because of COVID — but it was a really good experience. Bainer kind of took us under his wing and just showed us how everything was and how the camp was going to be. It was really cool for me and Bolds because we’ve been together since I was like 8 or 9 years old, playing hockey at little camps and showcases and tournaments. I think that’s something I really take from that, like enjoying these moments with your best buddies. It’s really cool like there’s been a few times this year where I’ve passed [the puck] to Nikita, and Bainer scores or I passed it to Nikita and someone else scores and it’s really cool to have that connection. Hopefully one day we play together on the bigger stage.
That would be really cool, I’m from Massachusetts so I’m obviously a Bruins fan but I feel like if all four of you are on the roster at the same time at some point I might have to switch a little bit. We’ll see how it goes.
As a pretty offensively skilled defenseman — I feel like you’ve contributed a lot to the offense recently, how do you balance the two sides of your game?
Warren: Yeah I think for me skating is my biggest asset so I love jumping the rush and making plays. For me I really worked on the defensive end probably since my U17 year at the [USNTDP] — I started to watch a lot of video and look at how important the defensive zone is. I’ve done a lot of work and defense feeds the offense so if you have a really good shift on defense you’ll have a really good shift on offense so I think that’s probably the biggest thing for me.
A play that really stands out from this season is your OT goal against UConn - I know it’s been a while, but if you remember can you talk a little bit about it; what was going through your head since you were at the end of a super long shift already?
Warren: It’s actually funny so I was on the ice for like two minutes and 25 seconds and I remember it was a 2-on-1 with Marc [McLaughlin] and I was like agh, coach is calling me off but I can’t come off — it’s a 2-on-1 and I think we have a good chance of scoring. Fortunately Marc took the shot and I took the rebound and tapped it in and scored. I was so tired I fell back and was just like “oh thank god we scored.” It was just a good moment — it was one of our first overtime games so it was good to get that first win.
So the BC defense is a little younger this year — obviously you have Michael Karow as a senior and Jack St. Ivany who transferred in from Yale — but can you talk a little bit about what it was like having four defensemen graduate last year and having to take on a bigger role for this year, especially at the beginning?
Warren: Yeah last year we had four really good seniors and they really led the way and taught us everything and put us under their wings. For me I played with Connor Moore and he was really big in helping me out and teaching me everything here and there. I think this year we have a young d-core but I think we have a solid eight guys that can play day in and out. I know me and Helly [Drew Helleson] play together a lot — he’s my d-partner so we rely on each other and be the best we can for the team and make plays.
BC officially added Brooks Orpik as an assistant this year - has having him on the bench helped you as a defenseman?
Warren: Definitely, he’s been awesome. I think that addition was probably one of my favorites, one of my favorite coaches I’ve ever had so far. He talks to us, tells us a lot about him playing hockey and he also watches us and lets us know what we should be doing. He’s also a really fun guy to be around and has a really smart hockey mind. I’m so grateful I’m able to be coached by him for a point in my career.
Yeah, he also has such an illustrious career at BC and won a Stanley Cup so it’s just so cool that he’s like, behind the bench at BC.
Warren: Yeah he has so many stories about BC and it’s so fun to hear about, like, what went on when he was here and how things are similar and how things are different. It’s really cool.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I have heard you mention in some other interviews that you actually started figure skating before playing hockey. So I’m curious, are there any skills from figure skating that you integrate into the way you play hockey today?
Warren: Funny story, so my mom made me figure skate before I could play hockey because she said “[I’ll give you a hockey stick when] I see you [are] a good enough skater” so then I kind of was like “okay this is embarrassing that I gotta figure skate.” [Laughs]
I think the biggest thing is that figure skating has taught me how to use my edges really well because you have to get really low and turn in figure skating and that really helps in hockey. I think me getting out of defensive positions or offensive positions is very similar to figure skating. So I think that’s one of the things that are similar.
I know when I watch figure skating it’s very graceful — do you think when you’re skating you think of that at all?
Warren: [Laughs] I kinda lost that over the years from hockey but I think it’s definitely something I think about in the summer when I’m with my skating coaches. But during the season you just gotta grind it out and just play hard.
Pivoting a little bit, I don’t know how much you want to talk about the College Hockey DEI committee that was just introduced since that’s been what everyone wants to talk to you specifically about and I don’t necessarily think that it should just be you talking about it, but if you’re comfortable — Yeah, I’ll say [a bit] about it — yeah, that’s totally fine! Just a little bit about what it is and why it was important for you to be on it?
Warren: Yeah, for me joining that committee was important because I guess my whole life I kind of wanted to do something for people that look like me and people that are different from other people. I think diversity is such a huge part of society and I just wish everyone would be more inclusive. This committee was really good because it really let me talk to people who were really interested in it as well and [people who] were just starting out and hopefully one day it can be something special. I know it’s going to take a long time but step-by-step we’ll get there. It’s really fun, we have meetings every other Sunday so it’s good to talk and take my mind away from hockey and focus on something more important.
Yeah that’s awesome, I mean I know it made me really happy as an alum to see BC being a part of this and you being a member and everything — especially at BC which is a predominantly white institution I was like wow this makes me really happy that there’s a Hockey East [committee] member that is a BC athlete especially.
Warren: I can honestly say I have had a lot of support from BC alums — I’ve got a lot of emails and a lot of texts from BC alumni and students at BC and I think that’s so important. The BC community is definitely growing and it’s something that I love to see and I hope it keeps growing and gets to a place where there’s more diversity and inclusion in society.
Yes of course, thank you so much for sharing all of that because it really is so important!
Going back to the season, How are you guys preparing to head into the postseason after last season was cut short?
Warren: Yeah I think from here on out every game is a playoff game in our heads. We’re preparing for a playoff game and every game is important. We don’t [have] that many left, so you know going into Hockey East playoffs, going into the first game we’re just going to go out there and play our best and win the game. It just starts at practice — we’re practicing a lot of new systems and we’re all trying to get on the same page and hopefully it all works out. We don’t really care who we play, we just want to play and win some games.
BC is one of the few teams that has really managed to (knock on wood) stay pretty safe from COVID so far. How have you guys and the coaches made that happen?
Warren: It all really starts with our team doctor, Bert Lenz, he does a really good job — we have three tests a week and we just try to stay away from a lot of people. We have our own kind of bubble I guess with the hockey guys, we just kind of hang out with each other; breakfast, lunch and dinner. It seems kind of rough but at the end of it it’s all worth it and we’re getting to play the sport we love and it’s probably the only normal thing we’re doing right now. It’s good, we’re just staying diligent and staying safe — we gotta keep doing what we can do and hopefully ride it out for another 45 days.
Hopefully soon things are a little bit better — that’s also just really nice to hear that you guys are like “hey, we’re staying in our bubble and just hanging out with each other”.
Warren: Yeah, we all know how important it is. Last year we kind of got snubbed with Hockey East playoffs and the tournament and this year we really want to be able to play.
And, lastly, I’ve heard that you have a podcast with some of your friends, so I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what it’s about and how our readers can listen to it?
Warren: Yeah so the podcast is called Coast to Coast Podcast. I actually started it over quarantine with a few of my buddies and we talk about everything. I mean it’s only sports, mainly football and basketball — I try to stay away from hockey because I play it. I actually fell in love with it, like something I really love doing is talking to people and having that connection with people. But anyone can listen to it, it’s on Spotify, Apple, everything major. It’s really cool it took my time away during quarantine, I think I got a lot of episodes in.
I feel like that’s a really good hobby to pick up during quarantine — creating a whole podcast for people to listen to! Do you guys have guests on there?
Warren: Oh yeah, we’ve had Adam Schefter, a few NBA guys, few NFL guys, few college guys, I’ve had a few BC hockey guys — Mike Hardman — on. It’s been good, we try to get a wide range of athletes.
That sounds awesome — hopefully the people that are reading this will listen to the podcast!
Now I have some fun questions, which are my favorite part of these interviews.
It feels like you’re full of fun facts and secret skills — in those get to know BCMIH videos that air during games and are posted on Twitter, you’ve mentioned that you are really good at chess and some other things, but what is something BC fans might not know about you beyond that?
The chess thing is pretty cool; I love chess and I play it a lot — online now, because I’m not sure if there’s a chess club at BC. This is probably not that interesting, but golf is probably my second favorite hobby to do. I play golf in the summer every day — I’ll go to the rink and work out and then I’ll golf with my buddies. I live right near my course and it’s really easy and I love it.
(author’s note: so many hockey players golf!)
Speaking of chess, did you watch The Queen’s Gambit? Is it accurate?
Warren: Yeah, it’s a little accurate. I think there are obviously some miscues in it with the way she thinks about the game — it isn’t very similar to the way people think about it but I loved the show. I binged it and I thought everyone did a good job in it. It made me like, re-engage in chess.
That makes sense! I do think there is a chess club at BC, I do remember someone trying to start one when I was a freshman at BC, so could be something to look into.
What was your favorite ever goal celebration? It could be one that you like to do, or one you’ve seen.
Warren: I think the coolest one I’ve seen was Mike Bossy on the Islanders scoring a goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs — it was a long time ago like in the 1980s — and he went down on like two knees and cellied, it was really cool. For me, my favorite one is jumping into the glass — I love that one, it’s so cool, especially with fans. Like right now it’s annoying we can’t have fans but when we do jumping into the glass is unreal.
What’s your go-to pregame song?
Warren: Oh, I gotta look at my phone for this one. I have a tune — Till im Gone by Flipp Dinero. Good tune. It’s a good song, gets me in the mood to play.
What’s the first thing you want to do when things are safe with regards to COVID?
Warren: There’s a lot I want to do. Maybe go to a concert? Or having fans at the games would be cool. I think the biggest one would be having all my family over and just having dinner. I would love to see everyone in my family.
And lastly, what’s your favorite dining hall meal?
Warren: I don’t eat a lot of dining hall meals — however, like are we talking Eagles or just Lower?
Is Eagles no longer classified as a dining hall? (this happens every time!)
Warren: I guess it is, I think my favorite is — this is tough — I like the Baja Chicken or the chicken curry.
A huge huge thank you to Marshall for sitting down with us as the regular season starts to wrap up!