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College Hockey:
Boston College breaks down the doors

— In the jaded eyes of some a few years ago, the Boston College Eagles were the salesmen who couldn’t quite close the deal. Bridesmaids. The team that knocked on the door, but rarely got through.

In the 10 years from 1998 through 2007, the Eagles appeared in seven Frozen Fours, losing twice in the semifinals and advancing to five championship games.

2012ff 250 white Boston College breaks down the doors

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A record like that would be the envy of any program in college hockey. Immune to criticism.

Except …

Except that in those five title games, the Eagles lost every one except in 2001.

They knocked on the door but remained out in the cold.

The Eagles fell in 1998 to Michigan 3-2 on a soft goal after hitting the crossbar in overtime. Two years later, they led North Dakota 2-1 entering the third period but …

They couldn’t close the deal.

The 2001 title finally put a glorious end to the “Curse of the ’49ers,” BC’s championship drought that had dated all the way to the second NCAA tournament in 1949. The 1998 and 2000 bridesmaid finishes were forgotten.

Until 2006 and 2007.

In 2006, the Eagles hit the post with one second remaining and lost to Wisconsin 2-1 in front of an overwhelmingly partisan Badgers home-state crowd.

As heavy favorites a year later, BC fell to Michigan State 3-1, prompting hypercritical observers to dub one of the most successful programs in college hockey near-perennial bridesmaids.

Overly harsh? Without question. Absurdly harsh? Quite possibly.

Some fans would give a left arm or perhaps a kidney for their school to achieve such heights.

But 1-for-5 stung.

“You just have to keep knocking on the door,” BC coach Jerry York said before the 2001 breakthrough; the mantra reemerged following the crushing 2007 loss.

After York’s first national championship in 1984 at Bowling Green, he got sage advice from legendary Wisconsin coach Bob Johnson.

“He said, ‘Jerry, I’m going to tell you one thing, that when you win a national championship, now you have a blueprint as to how to win more of them,’” York recalled. “He said, ‘It’s incredibly important that once you win one, that you sit down and go back over what type of student-athletes you had at that particular time, what your practice plans were like, what your goals were like.

“‘Look at everything [your team] did during the course of the year and that’s your blueprint. That will enable you to win more national championships.’”

So York continued to apply the same blueprint that got his team to the 2001 title and the other four door-knockers, confident that he was using the winning recipe.

“I think that some of those losses easily could have been more championships,” he said. “Sometimes I think we could have won nine [by now]. Other times, we might not have won any of them.

“If you get to the title game and you play very well, that’s the blueprint. And if you keep knocking on the door enough times you’re going to win.

“When you get to the final game and almost win it, you’re this close. The lesson was just keep going. You don’t need to change anything. You almost beat Wisconsin. You almost beat Michigan State.

“Everything was in place. Now you look for a little puck luck.”

Five years later, the program is the envy of all college hockey. BC has won three national championships in five years, a feat unmatched in this era. You have to go all the way back to Denver in 1958, 1960 and 1961 for the last school to pull off the feat.

“College hockey really is so hard right now,” Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said. “There are so many good, quality teams.

“I think Boston College is special. And for them to win three out of five is really — I mean, that’s something. It’s wonderful what they’ve done. I think it’s somewhat unprecedented. It’s going to be hard to duplicate.”

In the end, Bob Johnson was proven right in his advice to York, and York was proven right to stick to his blueprint. Arguably, the agony of the 2006 and 2007 heartbreaks provided subtle, hard-to-discern and perhaps subconscious, tweaks to the blueprint, if nothing else just adding experience to the championship puzzle.

But in the end, that same basic blueprint has produced success unseen in this era.

“We’ve been knocking on a lot of doors,” said York.

Over the last five years, the Eagles haven’t just been knocking on a lot of doors. They’ve been breaking them down.


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  • Fan Man

    I will be the first, Nice job Eagles!  I don’t like you or the Goof Troops but I have enough respect to say well played and deserving of the title!   Next year the Sioux are gonna tromp on you

    • 94eagle

      Congrats to Jerry and his Eagles on their 5th NCAA Championship!  A perfect finish to a great season.  Good luck to the seniors as well as Kreider and Dumoulin when they jump to the pros this week.
      I can’t wait to see the new uniforms next year for UND.  The fighting bunny rabbits is it?

      • Fan Man

         Make sure you vote on June 12th on the name change…  Or wait, that would require you moving to the greatest state ever created! 

        • 94eagle

          What are the mascot choices?  Where is the vote being held?  Local indian casino?

    • the_running_man

      Who the heck are the Sioux?  Have they won anything lately?  Oh right, BC’s been winning them all, so I guess not…

      • Obi Wan

        The Sioux you speak of shall remain nameless. lol

  • Pat

    great season eagles!

  • TK48states

    undisputed king of the mountain

  • Pat

    In my opinion BC was outplayed by Ferris State in the first two periods! Their legs looked like they were stuck in mud. However, in period 3 BC was once again all over the puck just like they were against Minnesota and Minnesota, Duluth.

    Kudos to an outstanding team and most certainly an outstanding goal tender – Parker Milner!

    • Rogersjd

      First period was pretty evenly matched. Ferris owned 2nd BC owned 3rd

    • Lance

       Ferris losing Czarnowczan for the third didn’t help matters at all. He and Billins have been a steady crew across several units and you could tell they were off as a team without him out there. Great effort, just couldn’t pull it out.

  • mad382

    All in all….it was a tight game.  I don’t know why so many thought that FSU was going to get “blown-out”? 

    I thought there were 2 pretty questionable calls by the refs.  The “hooking” call in the 2nd period on Tommy Cross of FSU was bogus.  Even the tv commentators said it was a bad call.  It was a great defensive play and the BC goal on that power play was the game changer. 

    The “roughing” call in the 2nd period on Bill Arnold of BC (which was really an elbow to the head)….is a 2 minute minor?  According to NCAA rules, all shots to the head are supposed to be a 10 minute major with a game misconduct.  Didn’t happen here.  In the BU-Minnesota game, Justin Cortinall of BU receives a 10 minute major and a game misconduct for a “suspected” shot to the head (which never came close to contact).  After the replay on tv, the commentators again mention that if there was ever a time to review a call like that….it should have been then.  That call was a game changer.

         

    • CommAve

      Haha please. Ferris had more PP chances. Including two hooks. Quit losing sorely. Ferris played great, the better team just won.

      • Jj Vanny

        nope better team lost .team that won had simply a awsome goalie…….. parker milner just became first single player to win the college hockey national title. u made history kid.with out milner air force knocks out bc…amazing goalie.rest of bc equall with the rest..

        • Ddegen1

          er, the goalie is ON a team.  But let’s dispense with the technicalities. As a hockey fan, you should know the team with the best D & best goaltender wins 95% of the time.  FS also had a great performance by their goalie – the score EASILY could have been 6-1 for BC. 

          FS played their best of the Tourn & hung in for 2 periods, but BC showed why they are the #1 team in the country in the 3rd – TOTALLY outplaying FS the entire 3rd. 

          BC has the best D & the best Goalie AND the BEST TEAM.  I would have liked to see FS play in the same bracket as BC.  Although FS didn’t have the easiest draw – it certainly was not in the toughest and doubt they could have survived both Minnesota teams!

          Congrats Eagles

        • the_running_man

          Best team always wins, that is how you define best-ness…

          • patrickolson

            Seriously? If you would have said “best team on that night always wins” I would agree. The best team does not always win. I think any fan of any team would agree with that. How about the BC lose to CC? Was CC the ‘BEST’ team in that case? Hardly. 

        • Goalie

          If I remember correctly, the goalie is on the roster, thus a part of the team. As a team, apparently BC was better Saturday night.

        • Lennyak1

          Your comment is simply pathetic.  Kudos to both BC & FS!

    • Ddegen1

      A game changer?  Hmmm, let’s get back to that one.  4 PP’s in the second period for FS & how many shots did they get on net?  Arnold is not one of BC’s best 5 players and his ejection would not have affected BC’s play.  So back to that game changer thing ….I think FS could have played the whole 2nd period on the PP and still not scored, BC’s D is just oot good -  just ask Minn-D & Minn 

      FS played a great game – perhaps their best of the Tourn.  Their goalie stood on his head and their D was the best BC faced all Tourn.  Cudos to them for showing up and giving BC all they could handle. 

      • Lennyak1

        Well stated again Ddegen!  Some of the comments just ooze with ignorance!

      • patrickolson

        To be honest, Minnesota skated circles around the BC Defense, they just couldn’t put it past Milner, and their OWN Defense never showed up.

        • patrickolson

          (For the first 2 periods anyway)…I’m not saying UMN was the better team…just that they had their way with the non goalie defenders.

    • the_running_man

      The only game changer in that game was Gaudreau making the FSU defense look silly as a 150 lb. freshman blew through them both and then made the goaltender look just as silly.  

  • Tommyd

    Bring it on Fan Man…we love playing UND with big things on the line.  We took it on the chin from you guys, WI, MN, and others in the past, but we’ve been delivering a lot of knock out punches ourselves in recent years.

    I love college hockey, but just wish we could play a few more games vs. teams out West more often.

    • Fan Man

       I’m hear so what do you need inquiring about? 

  • LtPowers

    Are we really supposed to feel sympathy for a program that won “only” one championship in a 10 year span?  Come on!

  • perrobark

    Congrats to BC. I was a fan of neither but was going for the underdog FS. I honestly don’t think BC wins this without Milner. However, Milner is part of the team and it’s in the books.

  • Guest 64

    I guess that I should congratulate bc for their win.  It is nice to see that when they go on the road for play-off games that they can do reasonably well.  It is just too bad the NCAA sets up teams like minnesota, michigan and bc to play all of their play-off games on home ice (within 40 minutes of campus) for the first few rounds of the play-offs. 

    • JakeB

      That’s why you try to grab a #1 seed… it’s not rocket science. You have a better season than anyone else and you get rewarded. The way it should be.

  • JakeB

    Kudos Dave, great article about three terrific coaches.

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