They’re eight players with one number separating them from receiving the acclaim they probably deserve.
That number: 1949.
The Boston College senior class is close to making school history — but a few weeks from what could be their fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four. That alone is plenty an accomplishment, as only one other BC senior class, the class of 1951, ever had the chance. But without a national championship this season, that number, 1949, the year marking the Eagles’ last national title, will loom large.
Thursday night, the BC seniors skated their final regular-season game in Conte Forum. The 6-3 win over Northeastern clinched for BC, and more importantly the BC seniors, the Hockey East regular-season championship, the first for a heralded senior class that has captured two postseason titles (1998 and 1999).
Moreover, it’s the first regular-season title for Boston College since 1990-91 and the first under head coach Jerry York.
“This is such a significant victory for us,” said York. “It only took two nights to win the Beanpot, but the regular-season championship shows that we played well from October right to tonight.”
Winning the Hockey East regular-season title brings the Eagles halfway to the college hockey grand slam for Boston schools. BC captured the Beanpot tournament on February 12 with a 5-3 win over Boston University, a title that had eluded the seniors in three tries prior.
The Eagles now need to capture the Hockey East tournament title and, of course, the elusive NCAA Championship to complete the slam.
The Boston College senior class — defensemen Bobby Allen and Rob Scuderi, forwards Marty Hughes, Brian Gionta, Mark McLennan, Mike Lephart, and Dan Sullivan and goaltender Scott Clemmensen — have accounted for nearly 37 percent of the club’s offense this season entering Thursday’s game, with captain and Hobey Baker hopeful Gionta leading the way.
Gionta, over his four-year career, has rewritten the BC record book. Gionta’s 119 goals make him the all-time leading goalscorer in Boston College history, and with 226 career points, he stands 13 behind all-time leader David Emma. Counting the Hockey East playoffs and a likely NCAA appearance, Gionta stands to play a maximum of 10 more career games — though likely less — which means roughly a reasonable point and a half per game needed to climb to the top.
Gionta has a school-record nine career hat tricks, including a modern-day Division I record of five goals in the first period against Maine this season. He currently leads Hockey East scoring with 48 points.
“We’ve got two more [championships] that we want to get done,” said Gionta, referring to the Hockey East and NCAA tournament titles. “We got two along the way so far. The next one is obviously Hockey East, but we can’t look ahead too far.”
Between the pipes, Clemmensen is responsible for 23 of BC’s 25 wins this year, and on his career has recorded 92 of the 137 wins for his senior class, a school record. Clemmensen also holds the BC mark for career shutouts with 12, and is third on the BC all-time saves list. He is undefeated (5-0) in NCAA regional games and has a 2-1 record in NCAA semifinals.
“Personal accomplishments are nice, but I’d rather collect a championship,” said Clemmensen after Thursday’s win. “I’d much rather have a Hockey East championship like we did [Thursday] and go back and celebrate it with everyone else because we all had a part in it.
“It’s so much better to share it with your teammates.”
And what about a national title?
“For our senior class, this is our last shot. We’d really like to get that one before we leave,” Clemmensen said. “We’ve been more consistent this year and that’s helped us get the regular-season title and the Beanpot. I’d don’t know what it is about [BC’s success] this season, but the [national championship] is the big goal of ours.”