All season long, Boston University sported t-shirts bearing the phrase “Burn the Boats.” The team swore itself to utter secrecy, only promising to divulge the meaning and origin of the slogan after the season ended.
Well, the season ended, all right.
“Coach (Jack Parker) read us a story at the beginning of the year about (Spanish conquistador Hernan) Cortez,” explained captain and Hobey Baker-winning defenseman Matt Gilroy. “and about how after the battle, they were going to take the other guys’ ships home.
“That was our mentality all year. It doesn’t matter who we play; we’re a team and we were going to burn the boats out there every night that we’re out there.”
The Terriers’ familiarity with the phrase was spawned of a preseason conversation between Parker and former assistant coach, and U.S. Women’s National Team head coach, Ben Smith. Both coaches clearly found it inspirational, but the punch line, as it were, was something Parker saw coming.
“Well Ben was telling me the story, he said, ‘and then Cortez gave one order,’ and I said, ‘burn the boats’. And he was kind of, ‘Geez, how’d you know that?’ Because I watched Hunt for Red October about a week before that, and Sean Connery (told that story in the film.”
The championship game pitted two of the country’s most successful senior classes head-to-head, as D-I’s best, Miami (106-43-14 entering the game), took on a close-running BU class that finished 100-43-21.
Oddly enough, only four seniors registered points, four assists, of the 19 total tabulated.
Alumni at the Helm
Saturday’s tilt also matched two head coaches who led their alma maters to the final game. The last time that happened was relatively recently, as Mike Eaves strategized Wisconsin past Jerry York and Boston College in the 2006 finale.
Of 25 current alumni coaches, only York, Parker, Eaves, and Red Berenson at Michigan have won national championships.
Change of Plans?
If future organizers plan on hosting another public skating session on competition ice, perhaps they’ll schedule it on the off day, or at least more than four hours before game time.
The open skate took place between 1 and 3pm on Saturday, and with so many fans eager to partake, there were no ice-resurfacing breaks during the event. It’s not much of a stretch to presume that the mauling incurred by the ice by the skate’s end was partly responsible for the frequent slips and funny bounces observed early in the title game.
Not Exactly According to Plan
Steve Cady, chairman of the 2009 NCAA Selection Committee, is also widely regarded as the father of Miami hockey. Cady served as the RedHawks’ first head coach in 1978-79 and functioned in such a capacity for seven seasons. Now the school’s senior associate athletic director, the program’s three-year-old hockey arena is named in Cady’s honor.
It was probably not Cady’s happiest moment then, when he found himself presenting the trophy to Boston University, when his beloved RedHawks had been so close to putting a bow on his marvelous Frozen Four.
The media workspace was set up on the Washington Wizards’ practice court, which comes complete with a basketball scoreboard, among other things.
The board was put to good use all tournament, as the clock monitored the teams, score, and time remaining on the clock for journalists who happened to be stuck in the workroom instead of in the press box.
However, the media found a slight error as they walked down to the working floor: the clock ticked down to game time, and “Boston” was listed on the left above the first zero.
On the right-hand side?
Charmed, I’m Sure
All year long, BU demonstrated ability, determination, and chemistry that put them in the nation’s upper echelon, but even when the Terriers’ talents or drive weren’t good enough to win the day, there always seemed to be a little something extra on the Dogs’ shoulder.
“We got a lot of bounces,” confirmed Parker. “We got a lot of bounces in this tournament, we got a lot in the Hockey East tournament, we got bounces in big games all year.”
Parker wasn’t exactly willing to hand his position over to the Fates, however.
“We talk about, ‘Winners don’t count on breaks, they make breaks count,'” he said.
BU’s breaks? Counted.
And With That. . .
-The Terriers set a new program record for most wins in a season with 35. The mark also tied Michigan’s 1996-97 achievement, but set a new high for wins by a title-game team since Maine went 42-1-2 in winning the 1993 crown. The Black Bears’ only loss that year? BU.
-Parker became the first Division I coach in history to earn 30 NCAA Tournament victories, passing crosstown rival and contemporary Jerry York of Boston College, who has 29.
-Boston University finished the season on a 19-game unbeaten streak away from home (17-0-2), the longest such tear in program history. Goaltender Kieran Millan was 16-0-1 away from Agganis Arena this season.
-BU finished the season undefeated against non-conference opponents. The only non-conference game the Terriers lost was in the Hockey East quarterfinals, a Game 2 defeat at the hands of Maine.
-No team finished the year with a winning record against the canines of Commonwealth Avenue. Vermont won the regular-season series by a 2-1-0 count, but the national semifinal result drew the schools even.
-The Dogs are now 5-5 all-time in title games.
-It wasn’t meant to be.” – Miami sophomore Tommy Wingels and head coach Enrico Blasi, within moments of each other in the postgame press conference.
“I can’t believe you have a BC tie on, for starters.” – Parker, to conference moderator Erich Bacher. Bacher, Sports Information Director at the University of Denver, promptly pointed out that the Pioneers also sport maroon and gold.
“This is the greatest comeback I’ve ever been involved in.” – Parker, who added that the similar last-minute two-goal-comeback in 1991 against Northern Michigan was second place, since the Terriers ultimately lost that contest in triple-overtime.
“Colby, you closed your eyes.” – Gilroy, interrupting game-winning-goal-scorer Colby Cohen’s explanation of how the shot found the net.
“You might have to prop me up like Bernie, or whoever that was.” – Parker, on how he’ll coach BU to its next title in his fifth decade behind the bench.