Coach Jerry York and players walk off the ice after last Saturday's 2-1 defeat in the NCAA Hockey Championship. (Photo by Greg Anderson)
After Close Loss, Eagles Reflect on Improbable Success
By Reid Oslin
With the score tied at the start of the third period of last Saturday night's NCAA championship game in Milwaukee against Wisconsin, Boston College hockey coach Jerry York admits that his thoughts momentarily skipped ahead to championship banners and a possible trip to the White House.
"It was down to 20 minutes to play," he says, "the score was 1-1 and there are so many things that go through your mind."
The Badgers scored on a power play goal midway through the period, and a last second Boston College shot banged off the post at the side of the net to postpone York's dreams, but the 2-1 final outcome didn't dampen his attitude.
"To be that close to achieving your goal, when I look back in retrospect, was a great ride to be on," the always-optimistic York says. "It was a terrific run by our team.
"I think we will really benefit from it next year and the year after. That kind of experience will help the players the next time going through."
When the young Eagle team started practice last Oct. 1, York figured that this would be a rebuilding year. "We had lost so many key players from last year's team that we just wanted to survive and be competitive in our league. We just wanted to set the train in the right direction."
Those modest expectations were quickly changed, he says, by the play of the team's three senior members - Chris Collins (34 goals), a finalist for the Hobey Baker "Player of the Year" honor; All-America defenseman Peter Harrold; and Steve Gionta - and sophomore goaltender Cory Schneider, who became the first BC goalie selected for first team All-America honors since the national recognition was instituted for hockey in 1957.
After a brief slump near the end of the season, the Eagles caught fire and tore thought the post-season tournaments, beating Miami of Ohio, Boston University and North Dakota to earn the championship date with Wisconsin.
The season was a special triumph for York, who underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer last July. "Compared to the place I was in, the place I am in now is so much better. This was a great experience for all of us, no matter whether you are a player, coach, student, alumnus or fan.
"When you catch fire like we did and you go, it's kind of a lot of fun."