Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Terriers' first on-campus hockey home turns 40


by Terrier Blogger




The Walter Brown Arena, BU’s first on-campus hockey home, hosted its first game 40 years ago today—November 27, 1971. During the next 33-plus years, the Terriers would play 528 games at the arena on Babcock Street, adjacent to BU’s West Campus. The final men’s game (video) was played on Jan. 2, 2005, a 2-1 loss to Minnesota.


BU inaugurated Agganis Arena (video) the following night, beating the top-ranked Gophers by the same score.

When Jack Kelley became head coach of his alma mater in 1962, one of the first goals he set was to bring an on-campus facility to Boston University. With the assistance of the support group he founded, The Friends of BU Hockey, Kelley was the driving force behind the arena project, a goal he pursued while also returning the hockey program to top tier of Eastern hockey. In 1965, after The Friends reported a pledge list totaling $100,000, BU began a fund raising campaign that would raise $5.5 million for a complex that would house the arena, a basketball gym and a swimming pool. Financing was completed and after two years of construction, the doors of Walter Brown Arena opened as Kelley was about to begin his 10th –and final—season behind the Terrier bench.


Who was Walter Brown?
Walter was the son of BU’s first athletic director, George V. Brown, for whom the hockey team’s MVP award is named. In 1937, he succeeded his father as manager, then president of Boston Garden, a post he held until 1964. He founded the Boston Celtics, later purchased the Boston Bruins, and was a leading figure in U.S. amateur hockey circles. He was the visionary who created the Beanpot Tournament and also founded USA Hockey. Brown is the only person to inducted into the Basketball, Hockey and International Hockey Halls of Fame. His family also contributed to the building of the arena that bears his name.


Adversity yields unity
The Arena had been scheduled to open in time for the 1970-71 season; however construction delays and an ironworkers strike slowed its completion. The Terriers were forced to spend one more season sharing Boston Arena with Northeastern and practicing at Harvard's Watson Rink.

But, as the 1971-72 captain, John Danby, points out, “The van rides to Harvard in many ways brought our team together even more. We felt if the team, could deal with having to ‘shuttle’ back and forth daily to Harvard mostly dressed and sweaty, anything else we faced the rest of the year would be "a piece of cake" And it virtually was, as BU posted a 28-2-1 record en route to its first NCAA title.

Danby, a deadly sniper, would lead the ‘71-72 team in scoring (26-24-50) and earn MVP honors for the Beanpot and ECAC tournament as well as being named the Terriers’ MVP.

Chris Henes, manager of the 1971-72 team recalls: “Amid the hammers and drills, Coach Kelley became the first person to skate on the ice surface [of Brown Arena] in October of 1971, just before the first practices began. Later, members of both the varsity and freshman squads would assist in painting the lines as well.”

During the first few practices, defenseman Dave Warner remembers, “there was still a big hole in the wall in Section 1 that was used by the construction crews finishing up the work inside. They had a big piece of plastic taped to the walls to keep the hot air out.”

One amenity immediately appreciated by the Terriers was the locker room, which Warner described as “unbelievable with individual player stalls, director chairs, scarlet carpet and showers with hot water. Anything was better than the [locker room at] old Boston Arena." (Link-scroll to pg 57.)

Opening night
Even though Section 1 of the stands was still not completed and unavailable for seating, the curtain was finally raised on the Terriers’ shiny new on-campus home on Monday, November 27. BU was the defending national champion, but there was no banner-raising that day; that tradition wasn’t established until years later.

BU’s first opponent on Babcock Street was ECAC rival Yale, and the Elis quieted the Terrier faithful by scoring the game’s first two goals. But before the first period ended, junior wing Ron Anderson scored from the left faceoff circle, Danby fired home a 15-foot backhander and defenseman Ric Jordan converted a rebound to give BU a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. [Current Umass coach] Don Cahoon, Steve Dolloff and Peter Thornton added second period goals.


The Boston Globe: Boston University’s hockey team dedicated its
ultra-modern Walter Brown Memorial Rink in fine fashion as the defending national champions defeated Yale, 6-3, before 2511 yelling, screaming fans.


From the very start, WBA was a unique environment with its low metal ceiling—in contrast with the high arched ceilings in old hockey barns—that “fired the sounds of the game, the band and the fans back onto the ice,” Anderson points out. “That was especially intimidating for visiting teams. When I coached Merrimack College, it was very hard to communicate with my players at Walter Brown. You really had to be prepared for that noise”

BU finally enjoyed a true home-ice advantage.

Not surprisingly, student support for the hockey team spiked with the opening of WBA.

“BU hockey became a much bigger deal, with a real campus atmosphere,” Anderson adds. “And that really added to the players’ enjoyment.” The Arena seated more than 3,500.

Home sweet home
Besides being a state-of-the-art facilty, the new arena removed onerous time constraints from the players’ schedules.

“Living at West Campus meant a home game was really a home game,” Warner explains. “No waiting around in the cold slush to catch a ride to get to Boston Arena. With a short walk, practices were even better. After practice dinner meals were a breeze to get to unlike the previous year when we had to hop out of a van, wet from practice at Harvard, take a quick shower and rush to the cafeteria for food.”

Walter Brown Arena began its existence as the home of the NCAA champions and, at the end of its first season, that hadn’t changed. BU successfully defended its title with a 26-4-1 record, culminating with a 4-0 win against Cornell in the NCAA final at Boston Garden, making the Terriers the first Eastern school to win back-to-back championships.

“That team was on a mission to repeat and nothing was going to stop us from accomplishing that very prestigious goal,” says Danby.

“That season set the bar for future BU teams,” Anderson added, noting that BU was the most successful Eastern college hockey team in the 1970s, reaching the Final Four another five times, as Walter Brown Arena became synonymous with the dominance of Terrier hockey.

Today, Walter Brown Arena is the home of BU’s women’s team, which, just a few years into its existence, emerged as a national power, reaching the NCAA championship game in 2011. It also is home ice for Catholic Memorial High School.

For a look back at some of the most memorable games played at WBA, read Burn The Boats author Scott Weighart’s 2005 feature for USCHO, Remembering Walter Brown Arena.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Red Hot Hockey Since 1925

Originally posted Nov. 2007
by Terrier Blogger

Saturday night’s Red Hot Hockey matchup at Madison Square Garden resumes the rivalry between two of college hockey’s most storied and successful programs, Boston University and Cornell. The teams have met 40 times in six different venues. Madison Square Garden will be the seventh. The Big Red hold the upper hand with 23 wins. The Terriers came out on top 16 times and there was one very memorable tie, which we’ll get to soon.

The series began 82 seasons ago with BU in its seventh year of varsity hockey and Cornell in its 17th. On January 10, 1925, Terrier Coach George Gaw, in the first of his four seasons at the BU helm, brought his squad, captained by Maury Kontoff, to Ithaca where they skated to a 7-2 victory on Beebe Lake. A year later, BU returned to Ithaca, but was blanked by the Big Red, 1-0. The same week, the Terriers made their first-ever visit to Madison Square Garden for an exhibition game with the St. Nicholas Hockey Club (see “BU In The Big Apple”)

And then, the series went on hiatus until the 1960s. In the late 1940s when the NCAA Championship tournament began, BU, under Coach Harry Cleverly, was an Eastern power, playing in three of the first six tournaments—two of them with Jack Kelley playing wing. Meanwhile, Cornell, which had continued to play on Lake Beebe throughout the 30s and 40s, didn’t field a team from 1948 until 1957 when Lynah Rink opened its doors.

The Big Red didn’t become a force in college hockey until Ned Harkness became head coach in 1963. In his third season, 1965-66, Cornell rose to the top of the Eastern elite, running up a 22-5 record and reaching the ECAC championship game.

Meanwhile, BU, after a few lean seasons in the early 60s, had turned the reins over to Kelley who quickly engineered a return to prominence for BU hockey. 1965-66 was Kelley’s fourth season and his Terriers finished 27-8, reaching both the ECAC and NCAA tournaments. It was in the ECAC semifinal that season that BU and Cornell finally met again with the Big Red taking winning easily, 8-1.

Let’s take a look a some of the memorable games among the next 38 played with an emphasis on some of the earlier games in the series.

Dec. 30, 1966— Boston Arena—BU played two three-game tournaments in December 1966. A week after sweeping Princeton, Minnesota and Clarkson at the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden, the Terriers skated on their home ice, Boston Arena, in the Arena Christmas Tournament
They beat Harvard and Northeastern to improve to a 12-0 record and a #1 ranking. Meanwhile, Cornell dispatched the same two teams and was also undefeated at 11-0 and ranked #2, setting up what is considered one of the greatest college hockey games ever played.

Both squads were far from fresh as they were about to play for the third time in as many days before a capacity crowd of 5,450. The officials for the game were Giles Threadgold and Bill Cleary, later coach and athletic director at Harvard.

According to the Ithaca Journal, “Cornell had a wide edge in territorial play in a penalty-marred first period, but the Terriers capitalized on their opportunities and thwarted the Big Red's power plays.”

All three first-period goals came on power plays. Cornell drew first blood just 2:13 into the game. With two Terriers in the penalty box, Harry Orr took a pass from Mike Doran and beat goalie Wayne Ryan.

BU senior Jim Quinn scored the equalizer four minutes later, converting a feed from Fred Bassi. Then, with half a minute left in the period and BU up two men, a Brian Gilmour slapper whizzed past Cornell goalie Ken Dryden for a 2-1 Terrier lead.

Cornell regained the lead early in the second on a pair of goals by Bob Ferguson and Skip Stanowski. Ryan got a glove both shots but couldn’t keep them out of the net. Play raged up and down the ice throughout the period with 33 shots taken, but no further goals.

The pattern continued well into the third period with Dryden keeping BU’s high-scoring ”Pinball Line” of Herb Wakabayashi, Mickey Gray and Serge Boily off the scoresheet. Finally, in the latter part of the period, BU got the tying goal from an unlikely source, sophomore defenseman Darrell Abbott.

“I think there were about 3 or 4 minutes left in the third period and we were losing 3-2 when either Pete McLachlan or Brian Gilmour—our two veteran, all-star defensemen—got a penalty, and the other, shortly before that penalty, had been injured,” Abbott recalls. “Coach Kelley had no choice but to put the two rookies—Billy Hinch and me--out together. It was the first time Billy and I had played together as a pair so I\'m sure Coach was more than a little concerned.

“Cornell dumped the puck into our end in the process of making a slow line change. Billy set up in front, while I picked up the puck behind our net, fully expecting to look up and ice it, seeing as how we were a man short.

“But when I looked up there was only one Cornell player standing at center ice and the others were just coming over the boards. With no pressure I began to skate up ice only to realize that I could beat this guy. At this point everything happened so fast. There I was, going in on a partial breakaway and, contrary to all logic, I roofed a backhander into the net over Dryden’s shoulder on the short side to tie the game.”

The game went to a 10-minute overtime and, the Ithaca Journal reported, “Cornell had the edge in the first three minutes of the first overtime with Ryan making a sensational save on Doran from in close, but BU outskated the Big Red during the last seven minutes. Dryden had brilliant saves on Boily and Bill Hinch late in the period.”

The two coaches agreed to play one more overtime period, but neither of the weary teams mounted much of an attack in the second overtime and the teams were declared tournament co-champions. Goalies Ryan (32 saves) and Dryden (40 saves) shared the MVP award.

Abbott added that “It was the first game that my Father had attended at BU so it was even more special for me. He was sitting in the first row balcony, right above our bench. Of course having seen the success that Ken had subsequent to his days at Cornell, I feel I was very fortunate to have scored at all, but it is amazing how many people remember that goal even to this day. I was especially honored by the fact that Ken still remembered me years later, even after all the Stanley Cups and the Russian experiences. His comment to me was ‘I always remember the big ones’.”


March 11, 1967— Boston Garden—The long awaited rematch between the Terriers and Big Red came in the ECAC championship game, played before 14,300, which at the time was the largest attendance ever for a U.S. collegiate hockey game.

BU dominated the first two periods and held a 2-1 lead on the strength of a pair of Jim Quinn goals, the first assisted by Mike Sobeski, then second by Gilmour. Dave Ferguson scored for Cornell. BU nearly had a third as McLachlan rang one off the post early in the middle stanza.

Cornell tied the score early in the third on Doug Ferguson’s goal and then took control when Pete Tufford and Doran scored. Gray brought BU within one with just over five minutes left, but Dryden slammed the door and Cornell was crowned ECAC champs.

A week later the two teams would meet again, in Syracuse, for the NCAA title, with the Big Red repeating their victory, 4-1.

McLachlan points out that “BU owned the territorial and shot advantage in both the ECAC and NCAA games, and without a goalie the stature of Cornell\'s Ken Dryden, I think the results may have been different. Dryden was a class act as a player and as an individual

Forty years later, McLachlan insists that BU was the better team and that, even with Dryden in goal, BU probably would have won both games if goalie Wayne Ryan had been fully healthy.

“Wayne injured ligaments in his knee during the season and when he came back for the playoffs he didn\'t have the same level of mobility moving in the crease from side to side,” McLachlan adds. “He just was not at full strength. Cornell was able to take advantage of that on some of their goals."


March 7, 1969— Boston Garden—Cornell ended BU’s NCAA hopes edging the Terriers, 3-2, in overtime in the ECAC semifinals. Trailing 2-0, the Terriers tied the score on third period goals by Serge Boily and Ed Wright, but Cornell’s Kevin Petit scored 30 seconds into the extra session.


Jan. 23, 1971—Lynah Rink— BU was the top ranked team in the nation with a 13-0-1 mark that included wins of Minnesota and Boston College. Other than the 4-4 tie at Harvard, none of the games were close. The ’70-’71 Terrier squad, led by Captain Steve Stirling, forward John Danby and defensemen Bob Brown and Ric Jordan, was both talented and young, with just three seniors on the team. Consequently, most of the team had never before experienced Lynah Rink where the Big Red and their enthusiastic fans regularly made visitors uncomfortable. The defending national champion ended BU’s unbeaten streak with a thud, laying a 5-1 pasting on the Terriers. Only junior winger Don “Toot” Cahoon was able to find the back of the net. But it wasn’t the last meeting of the season for the teams.


March 13, 1971—Boston Garden—ECAC Tournament: The Terriers, after their reality check in Ithaca, reeled off a dozen straight wins, and then, in the ECAC semifinals, disaster struck in Crimson jerseys. Harvard played a near-perfect, penalty-free game, keeping BU’s 40% power play off the ice and beating the Terriers 4-2. Instead of rematch with Cornell in the title game, as many expected, BU would face off with the Big Red in the consolation game, after Clarkson had dumped Cornell. BU’s scant hopes for an invitation the four-team NCAA field required a win over Cornell.

Team manager Chris Henes recalls that the game proved to be a shootout with more than 90 shots on goal.

“Cornell led 3-2 after one, and we scored three unanswered goals—Steve Stirling, Ric Jordan, and John Danby—to make it 5-3. Cornell got one back before Stirling’s second became the eventual game winner. Goalie Dan Brady was hit with a stick in the eye right on Cornell's last goal, which narrowed the lead to 6-5 with 14 seconds remaining in the second in the second period.”

ECAC rules at the time allowed BU to take 15 minutes to prepare backup goalie Tim Regan, but Terrier Coach Jack Kelley suggested that instead the final14 seconds be added on to the third period. Cornell Coach Dick Bertrand would have none of that, so the BU skaters warmed up Regan blistering him with shots, followed by 14 uneventful seconds. While Henes took Brady to BU Hospital in a police cruiser to have his eye examined, Regan stopped 16 third period Cornell shots and the game ended 6-5.

“Making Regan play those 14 seconds after the warm-up period backfired on Cornell,” Kelley says. “It enabled us to hold on for what would prove to be an important win.”

Harvard beat Clarkson in the ECAC title game and with BU having beaten the Golden Knights earlier in the season, the league elected to send BU and Harvard to the NCAAs in Syracuse where the Terrier earned their first national championship.

March 11, 1972—Boston Garden—BU and Cornell were once again the iron of the East and this time both reached the ECAC championship game. Cornell’s recording going into the game was 22-4 and BU’s was 23-4-1. The teams had met twice during the season, at the Syracuse Invitation Tournament and in BU’s final regular season game at Walter Brown Arena. The Big Red earned 3-2 wins in both.

So, BU came into the game seeking revenge, as well as its first ECAC championship. Dave Wisener and Brown gave BU a 2-0 lead after heavily outshooting Cornell in the first period.

After Cornell narrowed the lead to one, Captain Jake Danby continued his hot post-season scoring with a power play goal from Jordan and Ron Anderson. While All-American goalie Brady held the Big Red at bay, Peter Thornton, assisted by Steve Dolloff and Paul Giandomenico, closed out the scoring in a very one-sided, 4-1 win.

Team Manager Henes remembers that one of keys to the victory was that “We matched them line for line which included a great effort by the 4th wave of Bill Flynn, Ray Cournoyea, and Larry Abbott.”


March 18, 1972—Boston Garden—Just as in 1967, the teams quickly met for a rematch in the NCAA finals. But BU had some lineup changes. Brady, injured in the first practice after the ECACs, was replaced by Tim Regan, who had missed part of the season to play on the U.S. Olympic team. And steady defenseman Bob Murray’s kidney injury left BU short on the blueline. So Kelley obtained permission to play a freshman, Vic Stanfield, while Dave Warner stepped up to take Murray’s spot on defense.

BU took a first period lead on Anderson’s first of two goals and Jordan doubled the lead in the second period. Each would score again in the third.

Meanwhile, Regan was stopping all 39 Cornell shots to record just the second ever shutout, 4-0, in an NCAA championship game. During the two-game tournament, the red light shone on the back of his helmet just once.
BU became the first Eastern school to win back-to-back national championships. The Terriers had won three major titles at Boston Garden—the Beanpot, ECACs and NCAAs—and Danby was the MVP in each one. The 4-0 win was Kelley’s final game behind the Terrier behind as he became coach and general manager of the New England Whalers.

Brown adds that “Part of the enjoyment of this particular rivalry from my point of view is that I had played with and against a number of the players who went to Cornell throughout my time in Canada. And, I had traveled to Cornell as one of my trips to various schools before I made up my mind to come to BU.”

Dec. 13, 1972—Lynah Rink—The most controversial game in the BU-Cornell series was 9-0 blowout win for BU on the ice, but later became a 1-0 forfeit loss. Terrier sophomore Dick Decloe scored a hat trick, six other Terriers scored goals and goalie Ed Walsh stopped 31 shots. A week later, the ECAC began investigating eligibility issues concerning Decloe—reportedly at the request of Cornell. Eventually, Decloe was declared ineligible because his junior team in Canada had paid a local school tax of $132 after Decloe had taken other precautions to protect his eligibility. BU forfeited the win over Cornell and ten other wins in which Decloe had played.


March 8, 1974—Boston Garden—BU and Cornell were matched up in the ECAC semifinals, and the Terriers came away with a one-side 7-3, sparked by what Coach Jack Parker called “an unbelievable goal by Vic Stanfield,” win en route to what would be the first of four consecutive ECAC titles.

Parker, in a recent media call regarding the 2007 game, revealed that the 1974 semifinal was his most memorable game coached against Cornell. That was, he said, because it was his first year behind the Terrier bench, and because Cornell had beaten BU in the ECACs in all three of his years as a player.


Feb. 26, 1975—Lynah Rink—This game was as memorable for the trip to the game as for the game itself, according to several Terrier players.

BU goalie—and current women’s team head coach—Brian Durocher says “In those days we had the luxury of flying by charter (a DC 3) to Cornell the day of the game and returning home right afterwards The flight may well have been the roughest one I have ever encountered. The travel party included about 30 people and I am guessing that approximately 22-25 people vomited.[Note: defenseman Gary Fay recalls that everyone except Vic Stanfield lost their lunch]

“We landed in Ithaca, slept in the barracks next to the football field, ate a pre-game meal, took another nap and then beat the Big Red 6-4. We jumped back on a plane and returned home by midnight. That night also included the longest goal I ever surrendered when a Cornell player scored from the far blue line. That was before the Red Line icing came into the college game so those shots did come on a more regular basis. I saw it all the way but just plain missed it. I am constantly reminded of that goal by our facilities director Alan Weinberger who had made the trip to Lynah Rink that evening.”

Fay adds “I remember the area behind the Bench being very small. Coach Parker was standing on the bench impeding the people’s view right behind him. They were heckling him the entire game and he kept his cool until the game was over, then turned and said, "Can you see now?"


Jan. 8, 1977—Lynah Rink—When BU next returned to Lynah, the result was a shootout with BU eeking out a 7-6 win in overtime on All-American Rick Meagher’s second goal of the game. His linemates, Mike Eruzione and Dave Silk, each registered a pair of goals, too. It was a milestone game for power play specialist Fay, as well.

He explains: “This game is etched into my memory because I played a regular shift due to injuries to Jack O'Callahan and Dick Lamby. For me personally, it was a validation that I could play at 5'6” and be a defensemen for BU and, moreover, do it in a hostile atmosphere. I know I was a + on the day and I remember Bob Murray, our then defense coach, coming to me after the game with a sly smile saying to me, "good game". That game really propelled us that year into believing in our young team and winning the ECAC's....again for the 4th year in a row.

“Four of us, Eruzione, Rick Meagher, John McClellan and me, are the only players in ECAC history to win 4 straight league championships.”

Dec. 3, 1983—Walter Brown Arena—In BU’s final season as a member of the ECAC, the Terriers upended Cornell, 4-2, ending a string of six consecutive Big Red wins.

Nov. 23, 1993—Lynah Rink—BU wins an early-season contest, 4-3, behind Mike Pomichter’s game-winner and goals by Jay Pandolfo and Jacques Joubert. Pomichter went on to earn All-American honors in 93-94. JP McKersie was in goal for B.U.

Nov. 21, 1995—Walter Brown Arena—Defending NCAA champion BU beat Cornell 7-1 behind a pair of Jay Pandolfo goals and with Mike Sylvia, Shawn Bates, Mike Grier, John Hynes and Chris Kelleher also finding the back of the Big Red net. Tom Noble was in net for what was Coach Jack Parker’s 500th win behind the Terrier bench.

Nov. 24, 2001—Walter Brown Arena—Exactly six years before the this week’s Madison Square Garden game, BU registered its most recent win over the Big Red, winning 5-3 behind Jason Tapp’s goaltending. Mike Pandolfo netted the winner in the last minute of the third period. Jack Baker scored twice and Pat Aufiero and Ken Magowan added goals.