This was one game that Boston University was sure to win.
National Hockey League Fans lamenting this year’s labor impasse enjoyed a healthy fix of first-rate professional talent Sunday, as BU’s star-studded alumni team beat the current varsity, 9-5, in an exhibition game at Walter Brown Arena. The contest’s proceeds are designated for charities inspired by two of the school’s most noteworthy alumni, Travis Roy and Mark Bavis.
In this season dominated by constant penalties thus far, fans also could relish a game that featured all of three penalties. The game proved to be highly entertaining, combining some startling exhibitions with skill and speed, along with several light-hearted moments — most of them courtesy of alumni goaltender Rick DiPietro, who repeatedly attempted to stickhandle out to the blue line and even wound up in the attacking zone in the game’s last minute.
When all was said and done, Chris Drury notched a hat trick for the victors, while Dan Lacouture added a pair of goals. Chris O’Sullivan added a goal and two assists. For the present-day varsity, Chris Bourque scored a goal and looked quite at home with the opposition thanks to several flashy moves. John Laliberte led the scorers with a goal and an assist, and John Curry fared the best of the three goalies, surrendering two goals in the third period after entering a 7-2 game.
“I said to Chris Drury, ‘Well, you got a hat trick — nothing’s changed here.'” Terrier Coach Jack Parker said. “And he said, ‘Yeah, it’s the only rink I can score in.'”
“It was a great time,” Drury said. “I’ve been looking forward to it for a while, especially since Walter Brown is not going to be used for much longer. … The hockey part was great but also catching up with people I haven’t seen for a while.”
Those people included former teammates and current NHL players Jay Pandolfo, Mike Grier, Tom Poti, Shawn Bates and Lacouture, along with Terriers from other eras, such as Scott Young, Scott Lachance, Mike Sullivan, Shawn McEachern, Adrian Aucoin and DiPietro.
The assemblage of talent made it a special afternoon for the Terriers of today.
“It was awesome,” Bourque said. “It was a really good experience playing against all those guys — fun for us, probably fun for them and the fans, too, so everyone had a really good time.”
“It was fun,” David Van der Gulik said. “It was amazing just playing against those guys and watching them, and I think that’s what happened: We got caught watching them too much.”
Indeed, the young Terriers gave up three goals in the first ten minutes and were outshot 20-12 through one, trailing 4-1 after 20 minutes.
“Once we got going, we played much better,” Parker said. “Obviously, that’s a pretty good team; we learned some lessons watching them play: how they moved the puck and how effortlessly they jumped into plays and they knew to go, the passing and timing.”
Playing in net the whole 60 minutes, DiPietro entertained the crowd with his stickhandling and passing, although he finally paid for his wanderlust in the game’s final minute. After evading Brad Zancanaro with a slick move, the New York Islander netminder coughed up the puck at the blue line, and Zancanaro buried a goal. That didn’t deter the flashy DiPietro, who went away all the way into the opposing slot to set up a teammate for a shot in the game’s waning seconds, much to the delight of the crowd.
Afterwards, DiPietro was asked if he enjoyed playing offense a little bit.
“A little bit?’ he replied. “I was trying to get Bates in net for the third period, so I could go and play forward, but he wasn’t caving.”
“He’s nuts,” Bourque said, complimenting DiPietro.
“You can always count on Ricky for some comic relief,” said Travis Roy, who wheeled on the ice with the alumni for the pregame introductions.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Roy said of the event. “If you think about all of the BU grads that are playing in the NHL and to have them come back and put them in one group, it’s an impressive group of players. Good guys: they’ve always treated me well and are looking out for me and the foundation. It’s fun to see them play together, and it was really a high-caliber game.”
The Travis Roy Foundation — co-beneficiary of the event along with the Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation — has been helping to make strides against paralysis in two primary ways.
“The Travis Roy Foundation started a couple of years after my accident, in 1997,” Roy told USCHO. “Half of the money we raise goes toward spinal cord research, and I’m very hopeful that we’ll come up with a cure, and I’ll get out of this chair.
“The other half goes toward individual grants: Trying to support spinal cord-injured survivors with wheelchairs, voice-activated computers, wheelchair-accessible vans. So we’ve done a lot of great things. It’s a small foundation, but I think it’s had a very positive role. I’m grateful to Coach Parker and the BU alumni.”
The game also gave some overdue competition to a group of NHL players contending with a lockout
“I haven’t really skated that much, so this was real good to get out there and compete and play some hockey,” Drury said.
Asked to speculate on the length of the impasse, Drury didn’t sound optimistic.
“I don’t know. We’re not budging, and we’re not too interested in listening to what they’re offering. If they want to add a salary cap and no guaranteed contracts, it’s going to be a while.”