Jack Parker’s career lives to see another day.
That possibility looked bleak 30 minutes into Boston University’s Hockey East semifinal game against archrival Boston College on Friday. The Terriers trailed 2-0 in a game that would end their season and their legendary coach’s career if they lost.
2013 Hockey East Championship
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“We came back from the dead,” Parker said. “We hung in there and hung in there and then we got a little life and took advantage of it.
“Now we have a chance to not only win a championship, but if we do, we’ll have a chance play another tournament, [the NCAA tournament].”
According to some of his players, Parker’s impending retirement helped spur the team on to the win.
“It wasn’t really spoken before the game, but especially after the first period, we realized that he’s such a great coach and we weren’t going to let him lose to BC in the Garden in his last game,” Danny O’Regan said. “We were willing to do whatever it took.”
“Much appreciated, Danny,” Parker replied to considerable laughter in the postgame news conference. “Thank you.”
Parker, though, dismissed the idea, pointing more to the team’s seniors, whose collegiate careers would also have ended with a loss.
“I don’t think they were trying to win it for me,” he said. “I wouldn’t want them to try to do that. I want them to try to win it for themselves and for their senior class.
“It’s probably in the back of their mind, but they can’t control everything. I think they just wanted to get to the next game. I think I was just a byproduct of that.”
Either way, the win over BC ranks as the culmination of a dramatic turnaround for a team that floundered in January and February, including the unheard of ignominy of a last-place finish in the Beanpot.
“After the way we played in the Garden a month ago [in the Beanpot], I didn’t think we’re be here this time around,” Parker said. “But we fought back and got home ice and then took advantage of home ice to beat a really good Merrimack team and then got by BC tonight.
“I’m very proud of these guys and very happy for them that they have a chance to play for a championship. We’ll see what happens.”
With upsets occurring in almost every game around the country, whatever slim chance the Terriers once held of losing Saturday’s Hockey East championship game and still earning a berth in the NCAAs are gone. BU faces another win-or-go-home contest in its matchup with Massachusetts-Lowell.
With a win, though, the Terriers would earn a berth in the NCAA tournament and potentially set up the dream matchup of legendary coaches that did not happen on this evening: Parker against BC’s Jerry York, the all-time winningest coach and the only active coach whom Parker trails. York missed the contest due to surgery to repair a detached retina.
Could the two legends meet in the Frozen Four?
“I’d take that because that would mean we’re playing in the Frozen Four,” BC associate coach Mike Cavanaugh said. Cavanaugh has split duties with fellow associate coach Greg Brown in York’s absence. “I’d be excited about that and I’m sure Jerry would be excited by that because he’d be back behind the bench.
“They have a good team and obviously have a good shot at winning.”
Lowell fans would certainly object and with good reason, but others might consider a meeting in Pittsburgh to be a match made in Heaven.