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College Hockey:
Jack Parker, BC’s demise, and prime time Lowell

In this, the final, Monday morning wrapup of the season, I’m tempted to say that one I learned was that USCHO’s Jayson Moy blows away all competition when it comes to Bracketology.  He did, after all, pick the NCAA tournament perfectly in all its details.  Yet again.

But I can’t use Jayson as the best at what he does because I already knew that.  And if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve known that, too.

So onward, then, to the three things I think I learned this week.

1.  Boston University coach Jack Parker won’t be making one last trip to the NCAA tournament.

It would have been nice to see Jack make one last hurrah, perhaps a trip to the Frozen Four where, in a perfect world, he’d face Boston College coach Jerry York, who would have returned from his eye surgery.

But although the Terriers stunned BC with five straight goals in the semifinal game to keep their coach from ending his career against their archrival in the TD Garden, they couldn’t overcome Massachusetts-Lowell to keep their season alive.

And so it all ends for a coaching legend who led Terrier teams for a mind-blowing 40 years, becoming in the end synonymous with BU hockey.

Hockey East has been richer for his presence and will be poorer in his absence.

May he enjoy the retirement he so richly deserves.

2. BC suffered a surprising demise.

It’s not just that the Eagles lost.  It’s how they lost.

But first, the loss itself.  Prior to the BU upset, Eagles seniors had held a perfect 14-0 record in the TD Garden.  That’s right, four straight Beanpot titles and three straight Hockey East championships.

The Terriers ended that amazing streak.

As for how it happened, BC’s team defense allowed five straight goals after the Eagles jumped out to a 2-0.  What was even more startling was the string of breakaways surrendered that was part of that downfall.

We’ve all known for a while that this year’s team lacks the defensive prowess of the Eagles of the past three seasons, all of which led the league in least goals allowed.  This year’s edition with its reliance on freshmen didn’t even come close.

But all those breakaways serve as a scary introduction into the NCAA tournament. While I believe the Eagles will be playing in the most forgiving of the four regional sites, that luck of the draw won’t be enough if they give up breakaways by the bushel the way they did against BU.

Of course, I expressed similar concerns about the BC defense after the Eagles defeated Maine, 7-6, almost blowing the lead in the Hockey East title game.  In that year’s Frozen Four, they defeated Miami, 7-1, and shut out Wisconsin, 5-0.

(As an aside to the North Dakota fans who are upset that their team won’t be in the East Regional, you didn’t get placed in the easiest regional, but you didn’t get put in the toughest one either (that being the Northeast).  And as an eighth seed, you deserve, in theory, the toughest second-round matchup, not the easiest.

(So you’re really getting what you deserve even though the selection committee’s reason for not giving you Quinnipiac — surely the weakest overall number one seed in memory — was attendance, not justice.

(And finally to the WCHA fanatics annoyed that their six teams didn’t get spread across the regions more evenly, Hockey East fans haven’t been delighted in past years with the distribution of their teams either, but that’s just how it goes.

(Besides, over the last six years, you’ve only gotten two teams to the national championship game with one of them winning it.  Those results speak volumes.)

3. Lowell is very much a prime time player.

Programs sometimes need that little extra oomph to get over hurdles at each successive level. The River Hawks have cleared a couple new ones already this year.  (See Saturday night’s feature.)

They’ve got a tough bracket, but is there any reason to start doubting them now?

I certainly have no such intentions.

Best of luck to all the Hockey East teams!

 

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