Sing along now - “Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling…”
Danny O’Regan has a knack for niftily rifling a puck between the pipes and into the twine, lighting the lamp behind goaltenders.
Check out our Danny O'Regan Photo Gallery.
O’Regan did it in the NCAA. He’s doing in with the AHL Barracuda. And he’s giving every indication that he’ll soon be doing it with the parent club, the San Jose Sharks.
Hockey is in his DNA. His father, Tom O’Regan, played several years in the Pittsburgh Penguins system prior to carving out an 11-season career in Europe.
“He loved playing the game. My whole family loved the game. And my dad taught me a lot,” O’Regan says.
O’Regan’s siblings are athletic, as well. Older brother Tommy played hockey at Harvard. Younger sister Carolyn played at Needham High. And her twin, Courtney, was a figure skater.
O’Regan was born in Germany, where his dad was playing at the time, but grew up primarily in Needham, Massachusetts. As a youngster, he was a Bruins fan, but especially enjoyed watching the creative Pavel Datsyuk play.
O’Regan’s father gave him valuable hockey advice. “Just little things every game. He was always positive, staying confident in me, telling me little moves here and there. But he was never overwhelming or overbearing about making me do certain things. He just kind of let me play the game and, if I had questions, I could ask him and he would always know the right thing to say. He’s been a great resource to have. He’s taught me pretty much everything I know, to this point.”
O’Regan attended USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and later became a high-profile forward for Boston University. In 2012, as a freshman, he led the Terriers in points. He racked up 50 more in his junior year, when Jack Eichel was a teammate. The Terriers won the Hockey East championship and O’Regan received Hockey East Second Team All-Star honors. He served as assistant captain his senior year and was named Hockey East First Team All-Star.
In April, 2016, O’Regan signed a two-year entry level contract with the Sharks. Playing for the AHL affiliate, the Barracuda, he has smoothly made the transition to pro hockey.
“It was a pretty big adjustment,” O’Regan tells Top Shelf. “I got kind of used to it early on in the season, being at training camp and practicing with these guys for a month. It all really helped. Coach Sommer and the whole coaching staff have been great. They teach me the little things, whether it’s in the face-off circle or whatever, little stuff like that. They’ve been really helpful. And my college experience helped. So the adjustment was actually a lot easier than I expected.”
BU is known for having one of the country’s best college hockey programs. “It was extremely important to my development. I was able to learn a lot every day. It was unbelievable. I played for two great coaches and I learned a ton and I got a lot better, so it was awesome.”
As for the strengths he brings to the Sharks organization, O’Regan says, “I think it’s that I’m kind of solid in a lot of aspects of my game. I’m not fastest guy or the best shooter or the best passer. But I think I’m solid at almost everything. And I think I’m consistent. I try to play that way every game. But I definitely have a lot that I can improve on, whether it’s skating or shooting. I’m obviously not the biggest guy. I try to use my size and do well defensively, and to keep up with everything, just be strong on the puck and stuff like that.”
O’Regan is 5’11”, but these days, even much shorter players, such as Mitch Marner and Johnny Gaudreau, are proving that height does not necessarily equal hockey might. Quickness and skill are at least as valued as size. And O’Regan is definitely quick and skilled.
“Yeah, it’s encouraging to see those guys do so well. I try to pick up on little things in their game, try to incorporate them in mine. It’s great to see all those guys being successful.”
With the Barracuda, O’Regan is learning how to have success as a pro player. “I think I’ve improved so much from the start of the year, just being on the ice with such great players and good coaches. It’s been extremely helpful.”
He was named to the AHL All-Star squad. “That was certainly an honor with all those great players. It was a really fun weekend, great rink, great atmosphere [in Allentown, Pennsylvania]. I was really happy to be there.”
On November 21, 2016, O’Regan, who has led the AHL in rookie scoring, was recalled by the Sharks for one game, making his debut against the New Jersey Devils. The Sharks won the contest 4-0.
“It was unreal,” O’Regan says, “really a dream come true, to play with the big club, and be with all those guys. To have that experience was unbelievable.”
It may not be long before O’Regan is playing for the Sharks on a regular basis. “Just to get one taste definitely makes you want to get back there.”
At the moment, however, he’s simply focusing on the next game. “I’m trying not to look ahead too much. I’m just trying to take it day by day, whatever team I’m with. I’m just going to try to do my best and keep getting better, so I can, in the long term, be up there and be successful.”