Amonte (photo), re-united on the first line with Joe Sacco and McEachern, scored two goals (including yet another shorthander) and had an assist. Sacco added a goal and McEachern picked up two assists, as BU jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period and then added two more goals over the final 20 minutes. Tomlinson also chipped in with a goal and two assists.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Ring out the old, ring in the new
Ring out the false, ring in the true
Under the steady guidance of coaches Jack Kelley and Jack Parker (a player on three of Kelley's 1960s teams), the Boston University hockey team produced winning records in 14 of 15 seasons between 1964-65 and 1978-79. The Terriers would've had 15 straight winning seasons over that time frame, but were forced to forfeit 11 victories during the 1972-73 campaign for the use of an ineligible player. That flipped a 22-6-1 record (which included a 7-3 upset loss to the University of Pennsylvania in the first round of the ECAC playoffs, with the Quakers being coached by former BU assistant Bob Crocker) into an 11-17-1 mark in Leon Abbott's only full season behind the bench, after being selected as Kelley's successor.
During the aforementioned 15-season stretch, BU and Cornell were the unquestioned kingpins of Eastern college hockey, with the Terriers winning five ECAC and three NCAA championships and the Big Red capturing five ECAC crowns and a pair of NCAA titles.
With talent, tradition and coaching, there was no reason to think that BU couldn't sustain its momentum and success as one of the premier programs in college hockey.
Then came the 1980s.
It actually started with the bridge season of 1979-80, when the Terriers, just two seasons removed from winning the school's third NCAA championship, finished with an 11-17 record and out of the ECAC playoff picture for the first time since 1964. BU followed that rare disappointing season up with a 14-15 record in 1980-81, dropping consecutive overtime games to Princeton and UNH at season's end to remain out of the ECAC postseason picture and securing a second straight losing record for the first time since the early 1960s. Things improved somewhat in 1981-82, when the Terriers—captained by Paul Fenton, the current assistant general manager of the Nashville Predators and a former NHL player who had 100 goals and 83 assists in 411 games—finished with a final mark of 14-11-3, but their 9-10-3 ECAC record kept them outside of the league playoffs for an incredible third straight year.
Over the next two seasons the results finally improved, with an 18-11-1 record (but a first round exit in the playoffs against UNH) in 1982-83, and a lofty 28-11-1 mark—including tying for first place in the ECAC East division with Boston College at 15-6—in 1983-84, in the Terriers' 23rd and final season as a member of the ECAC. That BU squad, which featured all-time leading scorer John Cullen, All-American Second Team defenseman T.J. Connolly and All-American First Team goalie Cleon Daskalakis, played in the school's final ECAC championship game at Boston Garden on March 10, 1984 but fell to a talented and top-seeded RPI club, 5-2. The following weekend, in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament, the Terriers were beaten by Jerry York's Bowling Green Falcons at Walter Brown Arena 8-7 in a two-game total-goals series that went to overtime before being decided. BU had taken a three-goal lead in the series after the first game, but it surrendered the lead the next night and then gave up the agonizing season-ending goal in OT. The Falcons went on to capture the NCAA title in Lake Placid the following weekend with a marathon four-overtime victory over Minnesota-Duluth.
The 1984-85 campaign was the dawn of a new era for BU hockey with the birth of Hockey East and an inter-locking schedule with WCHA teams for five seasons. The Terriers put in a respectable effort in their first season in the new league, finishing 24-14-4 overall, but a 5-2 loss to Providence in the Hockey East semifinals—the Friars, behind the play of goaltender Chris Terreri, went on to defeat BC to lay claim to the league's first title—ended their season.
In what turned out to be the high point of the decade for the Terriers, they went 25-14-4 in 1985-86, on a balanced team that produced eight players who had 11 or more goals, led by Clark Donatelli's team-high 28 and John Cullen's 74 points. BU finished in second place behind BC in Hockey East for the second consecutive season, but the Terriers turned the tables in the postseason, knocking off the Eagles 9-4 in the Hockey East championship game at the Providence Civic Center. The NCAA quarterfinals returned to Walter Brown Arena the next weekend, but the loss of team captain and inspirational sparkplug Peter Marshall to a broken leg in the opening minutes of the first game put a damper on the series for the Terriers, as they were out-gunned by Minnesota 11-7 in the two-game total-goals series.
A slow, steady decline followed the program over the next three seasons, which included finishing no higher than third in the Hockey East standings, no Hockey East playoff wins, no NCAA Tournament berths, and back-to back losing seasons in 1987-88 (14-17-3) and 1988-89 (14-21-1), with the latter representing the most losses ever for a BU team in a season. The wheels of the program were clearly spinning, and making matters worse was the fact that the school across the river, Harvard, was coming off its first-ever NCAA hockey title after knocking off Minnesota in the championship game in overtime.
So as the 1989-90 team prepared for the rigors of another college hockey season, it did so having enjoyed very little success on the ice over the previous three seasons (only a Beanpot title in 1987), and with reduced confidence and swagger in the locker room. Boston College and Maine hadtaken over the "favorite" roles in Hockey East.
To be sure, there was plenty of talent returning to the BU roster to try and get things turned around, but a total of 12 players from the previous season had moved on, with the biggest loss being leading scorer Mike Kelfer (23 goals, 29 assists).
Only three seniors dotted the roster: forwards Rob Regan, Ron Trentini and team captain Mike Sullivan (19 goals, 17 assists). Sullivan (photo) played the game hard at both ends of the ice, and if hard work, leadership and character were important requisites for a team captain, he displayed ample amounts of all three as a player. Parker, in fact, was leaning heavily on Sullivan to help get the program back to its rightful place as a Hockey East contender.
"I'm really excited about Mike's leadership qualities," Parker noted in the preseason. "With our renewed commitment to improving our program, it's imperative we have a captain who feels equally devoted to our goals. And Sully certainly is."
What the senior class lacked in numbers the junior class made up for with nine players. There were forwards Dave Tomlinson (16 goals, team-high 30 assists in 1988-89), Joe Sacco (21 goals, 19 assists), Ed Ronan (11 assists), Darin MacDonald (12 points) and Chris McCann; defensemen Tom Dion (15 assists), Phil von Stefenelli (six assists) and Mark Krys (seven assists); and goaltender John Bradley (5-4-1).
A trio of sophomores was led by speedy forward Shawn McEachern (20 goals, 28 assists), along with forward David Sacco (14 goals, 29 assists), the younger brother of Joe, and defenseman Mark Brownschidle, whose two older brothers had played hockey at Notre Dame.
To make up for the dozen departures from the previous season Parker and his staff brought in a large freshman class that numbered 10, with five forwards (Tony Amonte, twins Mark Bavis and Mike Bavis, Dave Dahlberg and Petteri Koskimaki), four defensemen (Peter Ahola, Stephen Foster, Alexandre Legault and Kevin O'Sullivan) and a goaltender (Scott Cashman). Every player in that first-year group would see plenty of ice time during the course of the season. With Finnish forward Ville Kentala having returned home after spending three seasons with the Terriers, BU's Scandinavian connection remained in place, with both Koskimaki and Ahola arriving from Finland; the former a native of Helsinki and the latter hailing from Espoo.
Looking at all of those pieces from each class as a whole, Parker felt this Terrier squad would be able to get back to the business of winning games, something noticeably lacking on Babcock Street in recent years.
"For the first time in three years we will have a junior- and senior-oriented team," he said. "We are stronger and more mature than we have been, and this will certainly help us. I also feel that we brought in an excellent freshman class. With this combination we will be much improved."
Parker and his intense demeanor were back behind the BU bench for the 16th consecutive season, something that wasn't a given just eight months before. Looking to move on to the next phase of his professional life, Parker had let the BU administration know in February that he would be stepping down from his coaching position at the end of the 1988-89 season to take over the full-time job as the school's athletic director.
It took him less than two weeks to realize that giving up coaching was just going to be too difficult.
"I came here 25 years ago and have been with college hockey ever since," Parker, 324-182-24 in his first 15 seasons, told The Boston Globe. "I can't get it out of my blood. I belong on the ice and not in an office.
"When I was faced with the reality of leaving coaching, I found I couldn't do it. I want to be a coach and a teacher, not an administrator. Being named athletic director at Boston University was one of the greatest honors of my life. But this university deserves an athletic director whose heart is in the job."
BU's depth would be tested on early in the season when three players would miss considerable playing time, including two for the majority of the season. The defense would be the hardest hit with Dion playing just three games before being sidelined for the year following knee surgery and Krys would miss the first 14 games while recovering from hernia surgery. David Sacco never really got the chance to follow up on his strong freshman campaign, being limited to just three games before being shut down to recover from off-season shoulder surgery.
Parker and the Terriers traveled to upstate New York to open the season at Colgate's Starr Rink, with the Red Raiders, an old ECAC foe, having won the previous two matchups. Looking to post a third straight win over BU for the first time ever, Colgate opened up a two-goal lead in the second period of the hotly contested game (which included 21 penalties), before Tomlinson's goal tied the score at 4-4. Amonte then scored the first of what would be his many big goals in a BU uniform late in the third period, lifting the Terriers to a 5-4 victory. Bradley got the win after finishing with 31 saves.
BU stayed on the road for the next two games, blowing out Merrimack 8-0 behind two-goal outputs from McEachern, Mark Bavis and Tomlinson, three assists from Sullivan and a 15-save shutout for Cashman. Northeastern then posted a 3-2 win over the Terriers at Matthews Arena, with the Huskies improving to 6-0-1 against BU in the previous seven meetings.
The home opener at Walter Brown Arena finally arrived on November 10, with the Terriers set to host Shawn Walsh's 4-0 Maine squad, with the Black Bears coming off a 31-win season that included a Hockey East championship and a Final Four berth. BU twice opened one-goal leads off the sticks of Regan and Amonte, but Maine drew even on a pair of goals by Scott Pellerin. Maine goalie Matt DelGuidice kept his team in the game by coming up with 29 stops, and the Black Bears remained unbeaten after Jean-Yves Roy poked a rebound past Cashman (18 saves) at the 1:11 mark of overtime.
In the Saturday night rematch, Maine started out fast, taking a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes on goals by Steve Tepper and Jim Montgomery. BU came back to tie the game on Sullivan's first goal of the season in the second period and Regan's fourth of the campaign in the third. Once again the teams played into overtime, but this time the Terriers prevailed when Mike Bavis sent a pass out in front to Amonte who shot it past Scott King for the game winner, as BU snapped a six-game losing skid against the Black Bears. The goaltenders were kept busy, with Cashman turning aside 31 shots and King 34.
Three more games remained on the homestand, and in the first, BU played its third straight overtime game, this one against New Hampshire, and it ended in a 4-4 draw. Tomlinson's goal with 38 seconds left sent the game into OT, and UNH goalie Pat Morrison made five of his 40 saves in the extra session to earn the Wildcats a tie.
Next up was a huge test against 9-2 Michigan State, which was coming off a 5-3 win over Boston College the night before and was ranked second in the nation. The Spartans played up to their reputation and took a commanding 4-1 lead after two periods in front of a subdued Walter Brown Arena crowd of 3,345. Over the final 20 minutes, however, the Terriers would stage a rally to turn the game in their favor and send the crowd into an ear-splitting frenzy. McEachern got it started with his second goal of the game just 20 seconds into the third period, and less than a minute later, Joe Sacco lit the lamp to pull BU within one goal. Amonte then tied it up at 5:43 with a slick move around an MSU defenseman, and just 17 seconds later, Ronan hit the back of the net, giving BU its first lead and chasing MSU goalie Jason Muzzatti, with the volume inside WBA nearly lifting the roof off the old barn. The onslaught ended 56 seconds after Ronan's tally when Sullivan dove in front of the Spartans' cage and pushed the puck past Mike Gilmore. Despite going 0-for-7 on the power play, one of the greatest (and loudest) 20 minutes of hockey ever at WBA was enough to topple one of the nation's elite teams. Cashman also kept the Spartans off the board in the final period, finishing with 18 stops.
After a 6-2 win over Princeton in which Cashman (photo) had to make 30 saves, BU and BC had their first meeting of the season on November 28 in front of a crowd of 5,476 at Conte Forum. The Terriers took a 3-1 lead early in the second period when Sullivan tipped home a shot from the point by Foster. BC got one back on a goal by Marc Beran, but Joe Sacco made it 4-2 with his second goal of the game by beating goalie Sandy Galuppo on the glove side. Steve Heinze cut the margin to one again for the Eagles on a slapper, but the Terriers put the game away on consecutive goals by Regan and Mike Bavis to improve to 6-2-1. Cashman continued to play well and strengthened his grip on the starting job by making 39 saves. Galuppo finished with 31.
"I thought we played pretty well, but I think we were a bit jumpy," Parker said in the Globe. "The BC-BU rivalry is really something, and we had nine kids playing against BC for the first time. I think it threw some of them off a bit.
"When they scored the fans came to life, but three times we scored right after them, and I think we took the crowd away from them."
In the eyes of BC coach Len Ceglarski, it came down to BU taking advantage of its opportunities.
"We have to play with more emotion and make fewer mistakes," he told the Globe. "It seemed every time we made a physical or mental error, or drew a stupid penalty, BU would take advantage of it."
On the itinerary for the first weekend in December was a road trip to Ann Arbor, with the eighth-ranked Terriers taking on Michigan of the CCHA in a two-game series at historic Yost Arena. On Friday night BU was sluggish on offense, managing just nine shots on goal through two periods. But the Wolverines only held a 3-2 edge with goals by Joe Sacco and Koskimaki, his first as a Terrier, keeping things close. BU produced 15 shots on Michigan goalie Warren Sharples over the final 20 minutes, with Amonte tying the score at 16:50, but the Wolverines added a goal midway through the period and hung on for a 4-3 victory. On Saturday night BU's offensive push was much better, and consecutive scores by Regan and Mike Bavis gave the visitors a 2-1 lead early in the second period. From that point forward the momentum completely shifted over to Michigan, as it blitzed BU with five straight goals, finishing the game outshooting the Terriers 42-23, with Cashman having to make 36 saves.
Cashman, the team's clear-cut number one in goal, then had a strong outing against Providence at Schneider Arena, making 39 saves on 41 shots, but as they had against Michigan, the Terriers struggled in the third period and dropped their third straight game, 3-1, with the Friars icing the game with an empty-netter with just over a minute left.
The final two games of the semester resulted in a 4-3 overtime win at WBA over Vermont, with BU overcoming an early two-goal deficit and McEachern notching the game-winner, and a 5-4 loss at UNH, with the Wildcats defeating BU for just the third time in the last 23 meetings. The Wildcats scored two breakaway goals in the third period and got 43 saves from Morrison, which helped offset Ahola's first two college goals. The biggest development to come out of the two-game stretch was Parker forming a new first line of McEachern at center between Joe Sacco on the left side and Amonte on the right, and the trio earned the moniker The Commonwealth Line.
At the end of December BU headed back on the road for a two-game series against another western foe, Denver of the WCHA. Looking to right the ship after having lost four of their previous five games, things only got worse for the Terriers before 1989 drew to a close. They were swept by the Pioneers by scores of 5-2 and 4-2, dropping the team's record to 7-8-1. BU was without two first-liners in McEachern (stomach virus) and Amonte (playing in the World Junior Championships in Finland) and it showed as the Terriers went 1-for-11 on the power play against DU over the two games. In the first game the Terriers only put 18 shots on net, but they did manage to outshoot the Pioneers the second night 39-31, as they closed out a horrid December with six losses in seven games.
Back home in Boston for the New Year, the Terriers hosted BC on Jan. 3. BU opened the scoring when Sullivan skated down the left side and fired a shot past BC goaltender Scott LaGrand for the only score of the first period. The Terriers increased the lead to 2-0 when Regan, having a career season as a senior, hit the net from the top of the circle. The mood on the home bench soon changed after BC exploded for three consecutive goals, the last the game-winner by future Hobey Baker winner David Emma at 19:02 of the second period, after he took a pass in the slot from Marty McInnis and lifted the puck over Cashman. Both LaGrand and Cashman finished with 34 stops and the Terriers continued to have issues on the power play, finishing 0-for-7, although they did keep the Eagles off the board during six penalty kills.
"We're in a bad spell. We've lost a little bit of confidence," Parker told the Globe. "We were playing as hard as we could and had a bunch of chances, but it was not an emotional game for a BU-BC game."
The Terriers' season was now at a crossroads. A 6-2-1 record and national ranking through nine games had dissolved into a downward slide that left them with a 7-9-1 mark through 17. Sixteen games remained on the regular-season schedule, but which way the season would turn was impossible to decipher. Was the BU program headed for its third straight losing season for the first time since 1963-64? Or was a typically strong second-half drive in the cards for the Terriers?
"After a nice start we hit some adversity and probably started to question what direction we were going. Our large junior class really felt responsible for how our team played each night, and we had to figure out what was going wrong and play better collectively," recalled Tomlinson, who followed his playing career with a broadcasting job and now serves as the color analyst on Vancouver Canucks radio broadcasts. "I think the closeness of our junior class helped us play our best when we were counted out, as we were a few times that season. We really did play for one another."
Much was left to be decided for the destination of this BU squad, and it would all start with a home game against Northeastern, a team coming off a win and a tie over Maine and one that had dominated the Terriers with a 9-1 record in 10 previous games dating back to the 1986-87 season.
The Huskies, leading the pack in Hockey East, got on the board first just 1:17 into the game on a goal by Harry Mews. BU responded with a pair of goals from its defensemen, Brownschidle's first career goal on a blast from the point and von Stefenelli's first career power-play score. Sullivan then stepped up and scored two straight to open up the game, and by the time McDonald scored from the top of the circle with just over a minute left in the game, the Terriers had made a statement with a convincing 7-3 victory.
Of course, this being a BU-NU game, the penalties also piled up, with the Terriers taking seven and the Huskies 13. An NU player also took a run at Cashman in the crease, something that left some ill feelings after the game and led to Parker exchanging words with NU coach Don McKenney and assistant Jim Madigan.
"They refer to it as going to the net," Parker stated in the Globe. "A lot of people refer to it as running the goalie."
McKenney had his own thoughts on the 13 calls that went against the Huskies, including a hitting from behind call on Peter Schure with just six seconds left.
"We have bad games as teams. Coaches have bad games. Players have bad games," McKenney told the Globe. "Tonight I think the referees had a bad game."
The BU captain was pleased with the end result against an opponent that had given the Terriers all sorts of trouble and plenty of losses in recent games.
"We needed it [win] for our confidence," Sullivan noted in the Globe. "We won just one game the whole month of December. We realized we're a good team, I think it was just a matter of time. The guys played with a lot of poise. We wanted to have fun out there, and when you have fun, good things happen."
Good things continued to happen for BU as it closed out January with a 4-1-1 mark. Among the highlights was a 3-2 road win at Clarkson, in BU's first trip to Potsdam since 1984, as the Terriers outshot the Golden Knights 51-17; a 3-2 overtime win at Lowell after trailing 2-0 after the first period, with Joe Sacco picking up his 100th career point on an assist and Amonte scoring another OT winner; and a 4-2 win at WBA over UNH in front of a season-high crowd of 3,405, with Cashman making 35 saves to pick up his 11th win of the season and Sullivan and Tomlinson each chipping with a goal and an assist. The one tie (1-1 with Providence) during that stretch nearly resulted in a BU victory, but Sacco's game-winner in OT was negated by a penalty to Amonte, who had set up the goal while playing without a helmet.
February arrived and with it thoughts of the Beanpot Tournament, but before the Terriers hit the Boston Garden ice for a first round matchup with Boston College, a trip to Matthews Arena—where BU had lost four straight—and a game with NU loomed on the first night of the month.
In a game that most likely neither coaching staff enjoyed from a defensive standpoint but one which no doubt entertained the 2,319 fans in attendance at Matthews Arena for three periods, BU outgunned the Huskies 10-6 (and 50-33 in shots on goal) for its sixth win in eight games since falling two games under the .500 mark. McEachern and NU's Brian Sullivan each registered hat tricks; McEachern's was the third of his career in a scarlet and white jersey. Tomlinson (two goals, three assists), Joe Sacco (two goals) and Ahola (three assists) also contributed to the onslaught.
After the teams went into the first intermission tied 2-2, the Terriers put five goals on the board in the second to take control of the game. The Huskies actually jumped ahead 4-2 less than three minutes into the second period, but then McEachern (photo) netted a pair in less than a minute to even the score, first tipping in Ahola's shot and then whipping a quick attempt past NU goalie Tom Cole. After Mike Bavis put BU on top, McEachern earned the hat trick on a backhander past backup goalie Scott Hopkins. Sacco's tip-in completed BU's scoring for the period. NU got as close as 7-6 nine seconds into the third on a goal by Mews, but the Terriers ended any hopes of a comeback with three consecutive scores from Ronan, Sullivan and Tomlinson, finishing off the team's biggest goal output since a 12-goal effort against Providence in November of 1988.
"That's called playing in Boston Arena," Parker noted in the Globe. "I thought they played extremely well, and so did we. It was a great college hockey game. It got so emotional at times it got out of hand score-wise."
McEachern was encouraged by the BU offense starting to put everything together.
"Tonight they were just starting to go in for us, finally," he told the Globe. "We had that burst in the second period. Every time you looked up the red light was going on. I think we just have to start shooting more. We started going to the net more. Some of them weren't pretty, but they were goals."
BU and BC meeting in the first round of the Beanpot equaled a sold-out Boston Garden and plenty of emotion on the ice and in the stands on Causeway Street. In addition to BU's own hot streak, the Eagles entered the game having won nine of their previous 11 games after a slow start to the season, including beating the Terriers in their last meeting.
"One thing about BU hockey is that regardless of how the regular season is going, the upcoming Beanpot Tournament was something to look ahead to," Tomlinson said. "We figured we could rescue our season by playing well at the Beanpot, and maybe that would be a springboard to a good run towards the end of the schedule."
The Terriers appeared to be in excellent shape halfway through the second period, taking a 3-0 lead on a long slapper from von Stefenelli, a goal off a rebound by McEachern and a drive from the point by Legault. But before the horn sounded to end the period, a BC flurry had tied the game, ending with a shorthander by Emma.
"It sure felt good getting ahead 3-0. Then in that second period, BC just seemed to come alive, they were flying," Parker told the Globe. "I wasn't sure if we were slowing down and losing our poise or if they were getting faster and stronger. You have to give BC credit for that comeback. That's hard to do."
The only goal of third period was scored by Ronan with under eight minutes left, and it one where the puck barely crossed the line, but it was enough to give the Terriers their fifth consecutive Beanpot victory over BC.
Tomlinson started the play by skating in on BC netminder Sandy Galuppo, who came way out of his crease to cut down on the angle. Tomlinson (who reached 100 career points with an assist during the game) then whistled a shot wide of the goal that bounced off the end boards. Ronan, to the right of the net, took a quick swipe at the puck for a rebound, with Galuppo scrambling to get back into position. The puck slowly moved toward the net, just barely touching BC defenseman Greg Brown's stick, and then snuck over the line for a goal.
"It sure felt good," Ronan noted in the Globe. "I didn't get too much stick on the puck but it was enough. Dave Tomlinson took a high, hard shot that banged off the boards. I just managed to get a piece of the puck and I really didn't have too much room to move around.
"I just gave it a tap and it bounced off the stick of a BC player and had just enough legs to get over the goal line."
Cashman, playing in his first Beanpot game ever, had to overcome some early nerves, but he finished with 27 saves and blanked the Eagles over the final 20 minutes.
"I have to admit, I was nervous as hell in the beginning," Cashman said in the Globe. "I got on the ice and when I saw the stands filling up, I could see what the guys have been talking about for months. I never played in front of so many people. Never played in such a hot rink. I wish I had brought extra pads, I'm soaking.
"It was nice to get ahead 3-0, but we knew BC had all that firepower. I have to thank my goalie coach Bill Berglund. He kept telling me before the game and between periods to be intense. That's what I tried to be. I feel great to be a part of this team."
The traditional Friday tune-up to the Beanpot championship got off to a horrendous start for the Terriers, as visiting Merrimack silenced the WBA crowd with four goals in the first 10:41 of the game to chase Cashman to the bench. Bradley, who had last seen action against St. Lawrence in mid-January, came in and shut down the Warriors the rest of the way while making 14 saves. It took until late in the third period, but BU finally rallied to victory, with McEachern tying the game at 18:20 and Amonte winning it at 19:19.
BU and Harvard would meet in the Beanpot championship game for the second straight season. In the see-saw '89 final, Harvard jumped out to a 3-0 lead, BU stormed back to go ahead 4-3, but then the Crimson fired three pucks past goalie Peter Fish and never looked back en route to a 9-6 triumph, their first over BU in the title game since 1977.
With revenge on their minds the Terriers came out fast and furious, taking a 3-0 lead at the first intermission on goals by Joe Sacco inside the post, von Stefenelli (photo) from the point and McEachern on a backhander. Sacco then knocked in a rebound early in the second period, and Tomlinson made it 5-zip when, killing off a 5-on-3 Harvard advantage, he intercepted a clearing pass by goalie Allain Roy and shot the puck into the empty cage. Mike Vukonich finally solved Cashman later on in the second period, but the Terriers responded as Tomlinson and McEachern each picked up their second goals of the game and it was pretty much over at 7-1 after two periods. The teams traded goals in the third to finish up the 8-2 rout as the Terriers won the Pot for the 15th time.
"The Beanpot win was huge for us, and for myself personally," Tomlinson recalled. "I remember Coach Parker calling me into his office to have a talk a few weeks before the tournament. It was pretty much a one-way conversation, though, as my season wasn't exactly going great to that point. He challenged me to be a better player and a better teammate. I remember the words he used like it was yesterday.
"My best memory was scoring the 5-on-3 shorthanded goal. The moment after that goal went in, I remember skating towards the boards in the old Boston Garden right near our bench, then stopping and raising my arms outward with palms up taking it all in. It's a feeling I'll never forget. The Beanpot victory that year gave us renewed confidence."
Tomlinson was named the tournament MVP after his four-point night (two goals and two assists). Sacco and McEachern also recorded three-point games for the victors, and Cashman had 28 saves.
"Sure, I'm glad I got the MVP trophy, but I think it could've gone to a number of guys," Tomlinson told the Globe. "Look at how Cash [Cashman] played. He was great and made some early saves that were really big at the time.
"Look at Joe Sacco with two goals, and Shawn McEachern with two goals, and my right wing, Ed Ronan, with three assists, and our captain, Mike Sullivan, who showed us leadership.
"I'll accept the award, but I have to accept it not just for me, but for all the members of the team. Because that's what we are. We're a team. And we haven't peaked yet, either. I see us getting better and better."
The weekend following the Beanpot the Terriers ran their record to 11-1-1 over 13 games (and 18-10-2 overall) with a sweep of Lowell, turning back the Chiefs 5-2 on the road (with Ronan scoring twice and Cashman turning away 28 shots) and 6-2 at home (outshooting Lowell 54-21, as six different players lit the lamp and Cashman had 19 stops to improve to 10-0-1 in his last 12 starts). The second win of the sweep was BU's eighth straight victory, its longest winning streak since the 1978-79 season, when the Terriers, led by the likes of future Olympians Jack O'Callahan, Dave Silk and Jim Craig, put together 10 consecutive wins.
BU finally tasted defeat for the first time since mid-January, falling 4-3 to Providence at Schneider Arena. The Friars raced out to a 3-0 lead after the first period and hung on for the victory, despite the Terriers generating some late pressure on goalie Matt Merten. Back-to-back second-period strikes from Ronan and Joe Sacco cut the PC lead to 3-2, but speedy Mario Aube scored his second goal of the game on a shorthanded breakaway to increase the Friars' lead back to two goals. Ronan's second goal of the game, a rebound of Krys shot, was the only score in the final period.
"Providence played well and we didn't," Parker said in the Globe. "We were not ready for this game mentally and that was the big difference. We just seemed to be looking at them and not playing them [in the first period]."
Next up was a trip north to Orono, to take on Maine in front of over 4,500 screaming fans at Alfond Arena, where BU had dropped five straight games. Another slow start for the Terriers would put them in a hole and extend that losing skein to six, as the Black Bears registered a 5-2 victory to finish the regular season with an 18-2-1 record on home ice.
Legault gave BU a 1-0 lead with a goal on the power play, but consecutive goals from Kent Salfi, Jean-Yves Roy and Scott Pellerin made it 3-1 Black Bears at the intermission. Another goal from Legault, his fifth in seven games, cut the deficit to 4-2, but Randy Olson closed out the scoring for Maine, which outshot BU 40-26.
"I thought we played a real strong checking and physical game," Maine coach Shawn Walsh told the Globe. "If you hold a team like BU to nine shots in the last 30 minutes, you have to be doing something right."
Playing against the Black Bears was not a fond memory for Tomlinson.
"I still dislike Maine to this day, only because they were always so good," he said. "They were always our toughest opponent. We obviously had a bigger rivalry with BC, with those games being more intense, but games against Maine were always very fast and physical and we usually ended up getting beaten. They had our number that year, that's for sure."
The first period finally went BU's way in the regular-season finale at Walter Brown Arena against Boston College, as the Terriers put three goals on the board against Eagles freshman goalie Scott LaGrand. They used that fast start to post a 4-2 triumph, defeating BC for the third time in four matchups, much to the appreciation of the majority of the 3,340 in attendance. The three-goal uprising was started by Tomlinson, who finished off a crisp pass from Amonte at 5:26. Tomlinson nearly scored again on the next shift, but LaGrand made a sprawling stick save to deny him. What he couldn't deny was Ronan (photo), who hit the back of the net on the rebound. Midway through the period Legault made it 3-0 when he scored from the left point on the power play. BC got one back when Emma scored off a scramble in front, but Cashman turned aside the other 15 shots by the Eagles he faced. He would finish the game with 32 stops, his third straight game of 30-plus saves.
Exciting play up and down the ice was the story in the second period, but the goalies kept all pucks out of their respective nets, with the BU penalty kill especially effective, denying BC on four power plays, eventually leaving the Eagles 0-for-8 with the man advantage for the game. One sour note in the period was when Sullivan absorbed a hard check and was helped off the ice with a badly sprained left ankle, leaving his postseason playing status in question.
Just 59 seconds into the third period BC's Bill Nolan finished off a 2-on-1 break to make it a 3-2 game, but Cashman shut the door the rest of the way and Joe Sacco picked up the only other goal of the period when he jammed in a rebound at 9:40.
"Our penalty killing did a fabulous job. Actually, our entire defense did an outstanding job," Parker noted in the Globe. "We had been a little sloppy the last couple of games, but tonight we played excellent defense. That's a great hockey team we beat tonight. This was important game for us, both with momentum and confidence."
BC coach Len Ceglarski was left disappointed with the result.
"BU won that game in the first 10 minutes of play. Their special teams were better than ours and they played like it meant more to them," he said in the Globe. "I thought we'd be ready since this is such a big rivalry, but I guess we weren't ready to play. We have to forget this game and look ahead to the playoffs."
Boston College still managed to finish atop the Hockey East standings for the fourth time in five seasons with a 15-6 record, good for 30 points. Maine was just a point back, at 14-6-1 and BU placed third with 26 points, at 12-7-2.
Having earned home ice as the third seed in the Hockey East playoffs, BU was matched up with crosstown rival Northeastern, which earned the No. 6 seed with a 9-10-2 league mark. Although the Terriers had poured in 17 goals in their last two games against the Huskies, the postseason presented an entirely different scenario with a clean slate for both squads. BU had also been stuck in an extended drought while playing in Hockey East playoff games, having lost four straight—three to Providence and one to NU, with the Huskies eliminating the Terriers with a 3-2 victory in the 1987 single-elimination quarterfinal round.
As Game 1 of the best-of-3 series at Walter Brown Arena would prove, the Terriers were not yet done with their postseason struggles, made worse by the fact that Sullivan would sit out the game with his sprained ankle and Ahola would be scratched with the flu.
BU started the game scoring the first two goals, Ronan at just over seven minutes in, and Amonte a little over four minutes later on the power play. NU answered back to tie the game with scores by Jay Schiavo and Keith Cyr, the latter at 15:01. Just 14 seconds after Cyr's goal, Rob Cowie put a 15-footer past Cashman and the Huskies were up 3-2.
The teams traded goals in the second period, with NU's Dino Grossi scoring on a rebound and Amonte picking up another tally on the power play, this time from the left circle.
In the third period the Terriers dominated play, outshooting the Huskies 14-4, but NU goalie Tom Cole stopped every shot, ending the game with 39 and helping NU steal the series opener 4-3.
"I felt good out there," Cole told the Globe. "As soon as I made my first save I felt I was in the game. I wasn't aware of the 39 saves, but many of them were from the outer perimeter and I wasn't screened and my defensemen did a fine job clearing for me. It was a team win."
One more loss and BU would be out of the Hockey East playoff picture, not to mention having their NCAA Tournament standing take a dip.
Playing their second straight game without their captain, BU was looking for a spark to get going, and a left winger from Medford would provide that and more. In a postseason performance that would stand the test of time, Joe Sacco (photo) erupted for a Hockey East playoff-record five goals (a BU record that remains intact) to lead the Terriers to a convincing 5-2 win to even the series.
It was a 2-2 game early in the third period after NU's Andy May put home a backhander, but Sacco then took matters into his own hands by scoring on a rebound, on the power play and into an empty net with 18 seconds left, much to the delight of the WBA crowd. The only downside of the victory, which included a much busier night for Cashman, called on to make 31 saves (Cole had 39 for the second straight game), was a right knee injury (ligament) suffered by Amonte, which took him out of the game after two periods. Not to be overlooked by Sacco's heroics were McEachern's three assists.
"Getting those five goals was nice," Sacco commented in the Globe, "but I think it proves mostly that I play with a great bunch of unselfish players. Tonight we played as a team. Me getting five goals is just something that happened. The big thing is that we won and tied the series.
"We played good defense—that was the key to the win. When you play solid defense, the breaks come to you on offense. And that's just what happened."
Although Sullivan remained out of the lineup for Game 3, the Terriers were still flying high from the offensive propulsion that Sacco provided the night before and they scored three first-period goals, the last two on power-play strikes by defensemen Legault and von Stefenelli, to take a 3-2 lead.
The only goal of the second period (one in which Cashman made 15 saves) was scored by Sacco on a long screened shot, but this one was by NU's Paul Sacco, Joe and David's cousin.
"Even if Tony couldn't play, I was going to dress him," Parker mentioned in the Globe. "He's so good, I wanted NU to think he was ready, even if he wasn't. But was he ever ready. When I thought he'd had it in the third period, he goes out and makes a great drop pass to set up the winning goal."
Although disappointed in the loss, NU coach Don McKenney still felt it was a hard-fought, enjoyable series for the fans.
"Someone had to lose and we have nothing to be ashamed of," he said in the Globe. "They scored twice while they had five-on-three advantages, but we did deserve those penalties. Then we had a goal called back and we hit the pipe a few times. I thought it was a great three-game series and the fans had to be happy. All three games were great games."
For the second consecutive year the Hockey East semifinals and championship game would be held at campus sites, and BU headed north to take on Maine (which had blown out Lowell by a combined score of 23-3 in the quarterfinals) at Alfond Arena, saddled with a six-game losing streak in that building, one of the league's loudest and most intimidating for visitors. The Black Bears were also on a 17-game winning streak on home ice.
After being outshot by the Black Bears 40-26 in the road loss at Alfond just two weeks earlier, the Terriers fared better in generating offense, putting 33 shots on net to Maine's 22. But the Black Bears' penalty-killing unit came up big, snuffing out all six BU power plays and DelGuidice was solid, allowing just one score. As a result of that strong defense, Maine never played from behind and posted a 3-1 victory, advancing to the championship game against Boston College, where they were defeated by the Eagles 4-3 in Chestnut Hill.
Maine's Brian Bellefeuille scored the only goal of the first period, knocking in a rebound from in front, and the Black Bears also picked up the only tally of the second period, with Martin Robitaille taking a crisp pass from Keith Carney and beating Cashman from point-blank range.
BU finally put one on the board at 11:18 of the third period when Amonte tipped in a long shot by Brownschidle, giving the Terriers some life. A little over four minutes later, however, Alfond went bonkers when Robitaille stole the puck from Cashman, who had come far out of his net to try and make a play. Robitaille gained control, skated away from Cashman and put the puck into the open net, more or less sealing BU's fate and extending its road losing streak in Orono to seven games.
"That third goal was the back breaker," Parker said in the Globe. "Maine played very well in their own end, as usual. We had been clicking at about 36 percent [in 12 previous games] on the power play and they did a great job defending against it.
"Also, we didn't move the puck fast enough and Maine had control of center ice, which was a factor."
Shawn Walsh, named Hockey East Coach of the Year the day before, was proud of his team's play in its own end.
"I thought all the defensemen played well and didn't allow any second shots," he told the Globe. "DelGuidice was sensational in goal and we got good play right down the line.
"That was a great game from the first drop of the puck until the final buzzer. And I have to say that if BU doesn't get a bid to play in the NCAAs, then something is wrong with the system."
With BU having compiled 21 wins playing the fourth-toughest schedule in the country, the NCAA selection committee concurred, making BU the No. 4 East seed, behind top-seeded BC, second-seeded Colgate (the ECAC champions) and third-seeded Maine. In the best-of-3 first round the Terriers would play host to the No. 5 West seed, North Dakota (26-11-4), which had lost a one-goal decision to Minnesota in the semifinal round of the WCHA tournament.
As usual, coach Gino Gasparini's Fighting Sioux had some potent scorers, led by senior center Lee Davidson (26 goals, 49 assists), future NHL player Dixon Ward (35 goals, 34 assists), All-American defenseman Russ Parent (team-high 50 assists) and winger Russ Romaniuk (team-high 36 goals). Current UND coach Dave Hakstol was also a member of the UND defense corps. The goaltending was split between Tony Couture (16-6-1, 3.47 goals against) and Chris Dickson (12-7-2, 4.11 GAA).
The Sioux, under Gasparini, had captured NCAA titles in 1980, '82 and '87, but they were making a return to the NCAAs after a two-year absence.
Before Game 1 even got started there were some fireworks in the pre-game skate, with some territorial bumping between BU and UND players eventually turning into an active brawl. In a scene that surely would have put a smile on Reg Dunlop's face, several players on each team began throwing punches before the referees had a chance to rush out on the ice to break things up.
When order was finally restored BU's Mike Bavis and Krys were sent to the box with 10-minute misconducts and Justin Duberman and Neil Eisenhut earned the same penalties for North Dakota. The total carnage for the game rounded out to 100 total minutes in penalties, 15 for 54 for the Terriers and 15 for 46 for the Sioux.
It was obvious which team drew more energy from the pre-game fisticuffs as the Sioux scored four times in the opening period, including three by Davidson (who would finish the game with four goals), with the red light behind Cashman going on just 16 seconds after the opening faceoff. Amonte got one back for BU, but the Terriers were still in a three-goal hole heading into the second period.
The second period provided quite a contrast as the Terriers quickly climbed out of that hole within the first eight minutes, with goals by Koskimaki and a pair from Joe Sacco. But just a minute after Sacco had evened the score, eliciting a roar from the 3,000-plus in attendance at WBA, Ward scored the first of three straight goals for UND (leading to Cashman being pulled by Parker and Bradley heading out to the BU crease), which pulled ahead 7-4 at the end of two periods.
Tomlinson scored on an unassisted effort with less than five minutes left to make it a two-goal game, but the Sioux responded with a Garry Valk score for an 8-5 victory and a 1-0 lead in the series.
"We did not play well in any phase of the game," Parker said. "We had opportunities to show what we could do, and we didn't do it. We did hang in there for a while and came back to tie the game, but we just didn't play well overall.
"You have to give North Dakota credit because they played well when they had to. They showed a lot of poise and confidence. As far as we're concerned, we have to come back and play better tomorrow night."
Gasparini, not surprised by his club's effort, knew that the Sioux (who improved their all-time record to 9-1 against the Terriers) were just one step away from the quarterfinal round.
"I was not surprised we came out and dominated, but we did come back soft in the second period and let them get back into it," he stated. "The goaltending the first half of the game was average at best and that's why the game was so high scoring. But on the road you want to win the first one, and we did. Now, the rest is there for the taking."
There were no incidents prior to Game 2, and BU's skating and passing were crisper, but the Terriers still fell behind 1-0 after the first period on a goal by UND's Eisenhut. The Terriers got their offense in gear in the second period and put three straight goals up on the board. McEachern tied the game with the teams skating down a man by firing a shot past Dickson, and just 35 seconds later, he helped give BU its first lead of the series when he dished off to Joe Sacco for a score.
The intensity on the ice ratcheted up later in the period when Duberman, one of the Friday night brawlers, plowed into Cashman, sending the Terrier goalie crashing back into the net and jarring it loose. Duberman only drew a high sticking penalty on the play but BU made the Sioux pay when Legault shot one past Dickson for a 3-1 advantage.
A solid third period by the home squad helped seal the 5-3 victory and even the series, as Amonte scored an unassisted shorthand goal and the Bavis brothers combined for the final tally, with Mark scoring off a feed from Mike. Cashman also rebounded from Friday night's shaky outing with a strong effort in net, finishing with 26 saves and withstanding some physical play by the Sioux. BU's improved offensive output helped it outshoot the Sioux 38-29.
"The difference between last night and tonight was Scott Cashman," Parker noted in the Globe. "He was very solid, made some key saves after their initial goal, and played with confidence. We played much better overall as a team and were more alert in our own end.
"North Dakota handled us pretty easy in the first game. Maybe they thought we were not a very good hockey team. Hopefully the momentum will carry over to tomorrow night."
Gasparini took notice of the effort put forth by the Terriers.
"BU was hungrier tonight. Their top level players played well and ours didn't," he said in the Globe. "They won the foot races to the puck and Friday night we had won those."
Sunday night's Game 3 arrived and BU would have to accomplish something it had never been able to do before if it wanted to move on to the quarterfinal round—win back-to-back games against North Dakota.
The Terriers were not to be denied as they did their best to keep their cool while North Dakota was being whistled for 13 penalties (including two 10-minute misconducts, giving them four for the series); killed off all six UND power plays; outshot the Sioux 28-26; and were led by the standout play of the freshmen duo of Cashman and Amonte. All of those elements, plus BU's determination to finish off the series, added up to a convincing 5-0 victory. The post-game cheering inside Walter Brown Arena was so boisterous that it forced the Terriers to come back out of the locker room and take a victory lap for the fans, a scene that would be repeated a year later after an emphatic NCAA playoff series sweep of Michigan.
Cashman, playing well in goal for the second straight game after enduring the difficulties of the series opener, made 26 saves, including a few stellar ones in the second period. He became the first goalie to shut out North Dakota in an NCAA Tournament game since 1968, when Denver's Gerry Powers did it in the NCAA championship game. He was also the first Terrier goalie to blank an opponent in the NCAAs since Tim Regan pitched a shutout against Cornell at Boston Garden in the 1972 NCAA title game, ironically on the very same March 18 date.
"We had a lot of pressure tonight and if we had lost, the season was over," Cashman told the media. "But I like playing in these type of games. The key tonight was the great play of our defense. They moved the North Dakota players out of the way so I could see the puck well."
Amonte (photo), re-united on the first line with Joe Sacco and McEachern, scored two goals (including yet another shorthander) and had an assist. Sacco added a goal and McEachern picked up two assists, as BU jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period and then added two more goals over the final 20 minutes. Tomlinson also chipped in with a goal and two assists.
Parker felt that moving Amonte back with his Commonwealth linemates gave the offense an extra spark.
"It helped McEachern and Sacco," he commented in the Globe. "It pumped them up. He's our catalyst and he's so threatening when he touches the puck."
There were bruises and welts aplenty to go around at the conclusion of the series, with the Sioux having been whistled for 41 penalties for a total of 106 minutes and the Terriers 36 penalties for 96 minutes.
"You have to give BU a lot of credit. They played extremely well and put a blanket over us so we couldn't get anything going [BU killed off 10 of UND's 11 power plays over the final two games and Davidson was held without a point on Saturday and Sunday after his four-goal explosion in the opener]," a disappointed Gasparini told reporters. "They were a better hockey team than we were tonight and deserved to win. If they continue to play like that they could beat anyone."
Drawing North Dakota on home ice was no easy task for BU, but the challenge in the NCAA quarterfinals would be even steeper, with the Terriers traveling to East Lansing, Michigan to take on the nation's top-ranked team, 34-5-3 Michigan State, the same powerful outfit they had rallied past for a thrilling victory at WBA in November. The Spartans were given the No. 1 West seed (and a first round bye) in the NCAAs and had gone 15-1-3 on their home ice at Munn Arena where the best-of-3 series would be played.
Michigan State won the CCHA regular-season title with a 26-3-3 mark and then captured the league's tournament championship with a 4-3 win over rising power Lake Superior State. MSU had the CCHA Coach of the Year in Ron Mason and two All-Americans, First Team center Kip Miller (46 goals, 47 assists) and Second Team goalie Jason Muzzatti (23-4-3, 3.01 goals against average). MSU had 10 players reach double-figures in goals and five players with 57 or more points, including forward Pat Murray, who had 56 assists. The Spartans also had two players in the lineup who would go on to become productive NHL players: defenseman Jason Woolley and center Bryan Smolinski.
Featuring a potent lineup like that, and playing in front of their fans in their home arena, it's no wonder the Spartans were viewed as the favorite to defeat the Terriers and advance to the Final Four at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, with aspirations of winning their second NCAA crown in five years.
However, Parker's squad, which had been through the rigors of the Hockey East regular season and had survived two tough playoff series against NU and UND that went the limit in recent weeks, would give it their best shot against a formidable foe.
"They're [MSU] a tough club, but they definitely had an easier schedule than us," Ronan told the Globe. "You have to give them the edge because they're the home team, but there's no doubt we can beat this team. We'll be pretty pumped up."
BU was indeed pumped up, and McEachern got his team on the board first in Game 1 when he took a point blank shot on Muzzatti, who made the save, but then watched in frustration as his defenseman, Wes McCauley, mistakenly knock the rebound into the net. Shawn Heaphy countered with a power-play goal for the Spartans, but the Terriers again regained the lead when Tomlinson picked up the rebound of a Koskimaki shot and deposited it into the net. Before the period expired Murray pulled the Spartans even with another power-play tally.
The second period proved to be costly for BU when the Spartans, backed by the roaring approval of the Munn Arena crowd, struck for three straight goals in a span of a little over four minutes. Miller's line did all the damage with all three scores. Murray, Jim Cummins—who had replaced forward Dwayne Norris on the top line, when Norris was forced to leave the game in the first period after injuring his knee in a collision with the goalpost—and Miller scoring in succession to open a 5-2 lead.
Miller scored again in the third for his fifth point of the game and Amonte added the final BU goal in the 6-3 setback, the Terriers' fourth straight road loss since late February. For the third time in three weeks BU's season was again on the brink, and to make matters even more daunting, the Terriers would go into Game 2 down two forwards, with MacDonald having aggravated a shoulder injury in the first period and Tomlinson picking up a spearing penalty and game disqualification late in the third period.
"Cashman wasn't as sharp in the nets as he has been and Michigan State played extremely well when they had to," Parker said afterwards. "They really developed momentum in the second period and the puck just seemed to jump in the net for them. I thought the first period was good for both teams, but they just took over in the second period.
"We will have to play more alertly in all three zones tomorrow night if we hope to even the series. We'll be undermanned without Tomlinson and MacDonald, and right now I don't know about the status of Sullivan."
Sullivan, still hampered by the ankle injury suffered against BC, had missed six postseason games and had last played against North Dakota eights days earlier, being used sparingly by Parker. With BU's season on the line, and the Terriers playing without two regular forwards, Sullivan laced up the skates and gave it a go, a move any captain worth his salt would've made.
Tomlinson, forced to be a spectator after his penalty in Game 1, was an anxious bystander.
"People had us counted out for sure before the series even started and we were definitely the enemy going in," he said. "Game 1 was really intense and there was so much going on after most whistles. I ended up getting a game misconduct after getting tangled up with one of their bigger, tougher defensemen.
"I felt terrible that I couldn't play in Game 2, and I didn't want to picture Game 1 being my final game of the year."
The crowd at Munn Arena had barely settled into their seats when the Spartans gave them another reason to cheer as Smolinski slipped behind the BU defense and lifted a shot into the right corner of the net just 62 seconds into the game. If the Terriers were in comeback mode to even the series, this was no way to start the game.
Heaphy came close to giving MSU a two-goal lead, but his shot rang off the right post and Cashman didn't allow any other the goals before the intermission horn. Late in the period the Spartans suffered the same fate that BU did on Friday night when Smolinski jabbed his stick into McEachern's stomach and was called for a spearing major and game misconduct, meaning he would miss a Sunday night game, if the series went that far.
With BU on the power play,von Stefenelli tied the game with a bomb from the point through a McEachern screen just 23 seconds into the second period, and at 11:46 the Terriers went on top with another power-play tally. Ronan, moving down the left wing, went forehand-backhand on Muzzatti and put a shot into the net on the short side.
Penalties continued to disrupt the flow of the game, and BU paid the price when Joe Sacco was whistled for a hold and then earned a 10-minute misconduct when he protested the call. Cashman made a pad save on a Steve Beadle slapper from up top, but he couldn't stop Heaphy from the left circle and the Spartans had pulled even. Ahola then went to the box on another hold, but Cashman prevented Michigan State from moving ahead when he made a sliding save on Ron Woodward at the right side of the crease.
As Ahola's penalty was about to expire Amonte made a heads-up play in the BU zone that led to the tiebreaking goal. After Cashman made a pad save in traffic, Amonte gathered the loose puck and bounced a perfect pass off the boards to McEachern at center ice. McEachern gathered the pass in stride and used his speed to create a breakaway down the right side. When Muzzatti went down to take away the lower part of the net, McEachern lifted a backhander over him to give the Terriers a 3-2 edge with only 30 seconds left in the period. Grabbing the lead after 40 minutes was a good sign for the Terriers, considering they had won 16 of their previous 17 games when holding the lead after two periods.
A little over two minutes into third period, McEachern again turned on the jets to create a scoring opportunity. Flying down the right side he drew an MSU defenseman over in coverage, leaving the trailing Sullivan open in the slot. The hobbled captain took the pass, skated toward the left side of the net, and when Muzzatti committed and went down, swung to the right and put a backhander into the open net for his first goal in 10 games and opening up a two-goal lead for the Terriers.
With a pair of Terriers sitting in the penalty box, Beadle let one fly from the top of the right circle and the puck found its way into the top left corner, giving the Spartans, now trailing 4-3, some life with just over nine minutes left.
BU finally had numbers in its favor with under five minutes to play when two Spartans were sent to the box. Muzzatti made a save on Legault's shot from the left side, but the ever-hustling McEachern kept the play alive when, as he was being cross-checked to the ice by MSU defenseman Michael Stewart, extended his stick and made a pass back to Legault, who then sent a cross-ice pass to Amonte in the right circle. The freshman from Hingham whipped the puck over Muzzatti's left shoulder on a one-timer to give him his fourth point of the game and the Terriers their third power-play strike of the night, sealing the deal in BU's clutch 5-3 victory—with Cashman's 23 saves a key component—and sending the series to a decisive Game 3 on Sunday.
"It's as gutsy a performance as I have seen from a Boston University hockey team," Parker noted. "I thought the turning point was Mike Sullivan's goal [in the third period] that gave us the two-goal lead again. Michigan State will be missing two key players (Norris and Smolinski) and will be coming off a tough loss. They will know how we felt today and I expect them to come out and play an emotional game like we did today."
Amonte said it was all about the top line making some key plays to help get the team going.
"The team needed our line tonight and coach stressed to us that we had to come out and play well," he told Michigan TV station WELM. "We didn't want the season to end tonight and we've got another shot to maybe go on after tomorrow night's game."
When asked about playing another Game 3 of a playoff series, Amonte grinned and said, "We don't plan it this way, but we just want to win and hopefully go on to the next level at the Final Four. We want to get there. That's been our goal all season and we're one game away from it."
McEachern felt that after MSU won the series opener, they were counting on advancing to the Final Four a little too early, especially with BU down two skaters.
"Michigan State had a very good team, but we also had a very good team and we thought they were looking past us," he noted. "We could really skate as a team, we had terrific speed, and I don't think they expected that. We always felt we were in better condition than other teams, and when we took them to three games, we felt like we were going to win."
The Spartans entered Game 3 in the exact same scenario they were in during the 1989 NCAA Tournament. As the top seed from the West they had split the first two games at Munn Arena against the No. 4 East seed Boston College. MSU survived the series with a 5-4 overtime victory in the third game, but it was ousted from the NCAAs in the semifinal round with a 6-3 loss to Harvard.
BU's lineup got a boost with the return of Tomlinson to his spot as center on the second line, but it was the Terriers' penalty kill that was under pressure early in the game, with the Spartans on a 5-on-3 advantage as Brownschidle and Legault sat in the box. BU successfully killed off the penalties and put some pressure of their own on Muzzatti, who made two good saves on shots from McCann and Amonte.
At 11:14 the Terriers finnlly broke through when Mike Bavis skated behind the MSU cage and made a pass out to Ahola at the blue line. Ahola's slap shot from the left point was tipped past Muzzatti by Mark Bavis and BU was up 1-0.
Late in the period Koskimaki took a slash to the ankle from Stewart; he retaliated with a hard slash to the back of Stewart's leg and the Spartan fell to the ice. Only the second infraction was spotted by the referee and Koskimaki was given a five-minute major. The Spartans tied the game on the power play with 43 seconds left in the period when Beadle's one-timer from the point zoomed over Cashman's shoulder.
The volume inside Munn increased considerably in the second period when Woolley scored from the slot on the power play and Murray, fighting through a Krys check, surprised Cashman with a quick shot that went through the goalie’s pads at 7:28 for a 3-1 Spartans advantage. Koskimaki redeemed himself for the major slashing penalty when he took a perfect feed from Ronan, stationed behind the MSU net, and lifted the puck past Muzzatti into the far corner.
BU nearly tied the game on the power play late in the period when Ahola's shot snuck past Muzzatti, but a Spartans defenseman swept the puck out of the crease before it crossed the line. The Terriers, with some exhaustion setting in, got careless late in the period and were once again forced to kill off a 5-on-3 advantage when Sacco was called for cross-checking and von Stefenelli for slashing. Cashman was up to the task, making a saves on Cummins from the right circle and Beadle's slapper.
MSU still had 50 seconds of the two-man advantage to start the third period, but Cashman came up big again, making two saves on Beadle, the first with his stick and the other with his pad. Just before BU finished killing off the penalties Woolley put a shot off the right post that bounced away and was safely cleared.
At the 5:36 mark of the final period the Terriers finally produced the anticipated tying goal. Sacco faked a slap shot at the blue line and skated around an MSU defenseman, and then spotted Ronan skating down the middle and sent a pass his way. Ronan finished off the play by tipping the puck past Muzzatti.
Less than two minutes later Amonte took some life out of the crowd when he broke down the right wing, cut sharply to the middle and fired a bullet past Mazzotti's glove for BU's third straight goal and a 4-3 lead. Again MSU applied some pressure in an effort to tie, but its best chance was denied by Cashman when he gloved a shot from Heaphy in the slot.
Fittingly the captain, throbbing ankle notwithstanding, helped set up the critical insurance goal with less than two minutes to play. Controlling a puck that was cleared out of the BU zone, Sullivan skated down ice while fighting off a backchecking MSU defenseman. Although tied up by the defender he got off a shot that went off the right pad of Muzzatti. The puck laid on the ice before Regan gobbled up the rebound and put it under the Muzzatti's right arm for the score, leading to an eruption of noise from the BU bench and the small pocket of Terrier fans who had made the trip out for the series.
"Mine was a good goal," Amonte told the Globe, "but I was more excited about the fifth one. As soon as he [Sullivan] went over the blue line we all got up and went nuts on the bench. He was just chugging and kept his body position."
Mason pulled the goalie with 1:30 left, but the Terriers' determined play in their own end kept the Spartans bottled up and there were no real close calls before the final horn sounded. When it was over, the BU bench emptied and piled on top of Cashman, with the Terriers having pulled off what was the most significant road victory at an opponents' rink—edging past BU's 1978 NCAA first round triumph over PC at Schneider Arena— in program history.
Cashman, who made 44 saves in the two BU victories after giving up six goals in the first game, was elated.
"Our team has a lot of heart and a lot of spirit," he told WELM. "We wanted to go to Detroit next weekend and we're going. Tonight our guys were tired and I'm sure Michigan State was too. We were just playing on adrenaline and we had nothing else to give after the end of the game."
Parker, more relieved than anything, was proud his club was able to make a stand and advance, after tagging the Spartans with their first back-to-back losses on home ice all season.
"What a way to make a living," he told the media. "Last night the key word was guts. Tonight it was poise. We never lost it, even when they went up 3-1. We kept coming back and scored three goals in the third. The third period has been ours all year.
"This team is in the best shape of any team I have ever coached. But coming in here [Munn Arena], where Michigan State has had such incredible success, and beating them two straight is just unbelievable. In fact, what this team has done the past month is remarkable."
For the first time since 1978, when the Terriers took home the school's third NCAA hockey championship, BU would again be playing in the Final Four. And in a sign that the season had come full circle after 43 games, the opponent would be the same one as in the season opener back in October—the Colgate Red Raiders.
"It was tough watching Game 2 (of the quarterfinals), but the team got the win and that allowed me to play again and we completed the comeback," Tomlinson said. "That gave us so much confidence and once again we had battled back in a series. We really felt we were on a special mission with how we were playing."
Colgate, since dropping its season opener to BU, had gone 30-4-1 on its road to Detroit, including a first-place finish (18-3-1) in the ECAC regular-season standings and its first-ever ECAC championship with a 5-4 win over RPI in the final. The Red Raiders, making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1981, then swept visiting Lake Superior State out of the quarterfinal round with 3-2 and 2-1 victories at Starr Rink, displaying the team's strong defense and goaltending.
The Red Raiders were led by a pair of All-Americans: First Team goaltender Dave Gagnon (27-4-1, 2.81), who entered the NCAA semifinal with a 17-0-1 record in his past 18 starts and was one of the best puck-handling netminders in the country, and Second Team center Joel Gardner (26 goals, 35 assists), the team's leading scorer. Also generating offense for 'Gate were Marc Dupere (23 goals, 29 assists), Steve Spott (20 goals, 29 assists) and Craig Woodcroft (20 goals, 26 assists).
Defensively, Colgate was strictly of the shutdown variety with no big scorers, and a familiar face was on the bench in former BU goalie Brian Durocher, who was in his fifth season serving as an assistant under coach Terry Slater. One other connection between the teams was that Cashman and Colgate forward Dale Band (12 goals) grew up together in Ontario as close friends, and it was Band who convinced Cashman to try out for a junior team as a goalie.
"We worked hard all year, went out and did some damage [in the postseason] and now we're hoping to win the whole thing," Joe Sacco said in the Globe. "If we only get five or six shots a period [against Gagnon], not many are going to go in. We need to shoot from all over the place. Maybe he'll stop the first one, but you've got to get to the net and not wait for fancy plays."
One thing that would handicap both teams going into the game (and Wisconsin and BC in the nightcap as well) was the poor condition of the ice at Joe Louis Arena. Bumpy, rutty and slow were the descriptions from players and coaches of both teams, with the problem being that a new ice surface was put down just 24 hours prior to the game, when markings under the surface were switched from the Red Wings to the NCAA. Speed and passing would both suffer due to the ice conditions. Being the afternoon game, the arena was half full, with much less energy and atmosphere in the crowd than the Terriers had experienced in the playoff series with North Dakota and Michigan State.
Nonetheless, BU was able to carry the play for much of the opening period, outshooting the Red Raiders 10-3 and taking a 2-1 lead into the locker room. With Gagnon holding the Terriers off the board in the early going, the Red Raiders opened the scoring at 7:10 on their first shot on goal when defenseman Gregg Wolf, who had not collected a point all season, connected on a shot from the point over Cashman's glove.
The Terriers evened the score when Tomlinson, on a nice individual effort, skated past two Colgate defenders and muscled a shot past the lunging Gagnon, who was attempting to knock the puck off Tomlinson's stick. Instead, the puck deflected off the goalie's stick and into the net. Tomlinson's line struck again a few minutes later with a quick-strike play when Ronan gained control of the puck in the corner, made a pass over to Tomlinson, who then moved it over to Koskimaki, standing open in front of the net.
Of the eight saves that Gagnon made in the period, several were on quality scoring chances, and his sharp play in net kept the game from getting away from the Red Raiders. Slater admitted as much, indicating that his team wasn't skating hard enough or taking the body in the first 20 minutes, perhaps because they were "awestruck" by playing in an NCAA semifinal game in an NHL arena.
"He [Gagnon] made the stops in the first period or we could have been ahead 4-1," Parker noted in the Globe. "That might have been the game if we scored those other two goals."
BU's offensive pace slowed in the second period, and at one juncture the Terriers didn't have a shot on goal for a span of nine minutes. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders were getting more of an offensive push in the BU zone (putting 11 shots on net during the period) and at 9:12 they got the equalizer when Kelly Mills put a rebound past the diving Cashman into the open right side of the net. Colgate struck again just 1:27 later, when Woodcroft, took a goalmouth pass from Jason Gryerbiehl and slipped a shot through Cashman's legs, even though he didn't get good wood on the shot. It was 3-2 Red Raiders with 9:21 left in the second period.
"Troy Mohns drew the defenseman over and I was screaming to him [Greyerbiehl] for the puck and he slid it across to me," Woodcroft told the Globe. "I thought I'd go upstairs at first, but I saw him slide, and when a goalie moves, the first instinct is to put it between his legs. I did, and it went in."
The Terriers had eight shots on Gagnon in the second period and he saved them all, including denying Tomlinson, McEachern, Amonte and Ronan on potential scoring bids.
A combination of deteriorating ice conditions and the determined Colgate defense reduced BU's shots on goal over the final 20 minutes to just seven and the Red Raiders to only four. Cashman did his part by keeping it a one-goal game as the clock wound down. The best of the Terriers' seven scoring opportunities came down to their final shot of the game, with the BU net empty and a sixth skater on the ice.
Joe Sacco had possession of the puck behind the Colgate net with under 15 seconds left and he spotted McEachern's scarlet jersey moving down the slot into some open space. Sacco hit McEachern with a pass and with a quick flick of his stick McEachern sent the puck toward the goal, with the aggressive Gagnon coming out to challenge the low shot and getting a piece of the puck with his pad.
"We'd done it so often this season, McEachern told the Globe, "that I was sure we'd do it again and come from behind to win."
After hitting Gagnon's pad the puck went airborne and began flipping in the air, moving end-over-end past the prone Gagnon's shoulder and toward the open net.
"I had time to look behind me and see it. I could see our whole season riding right there," Gagnon recounted in the Globe. "I was tired and I don't think we could have done much in overtime. I was seeing our whole season in front of my eyes."
The puck's flight ended when it smacked off the post.
"It hit the post," Gagnon, making his 23rd and final save, told the Globe, "but it hit it flat. And then it dropped straight down."
The puck laid there in the crease for a split second before a Colgate defenseman swatted it away from danger, and a few seconds later the horn sounded, with the Red Raiders having earned their first-ever spot in the NCAA championship game against Wisconsin. The Badgers had defeated BC 2-1 in the other semifinal, and then dominated the upstart Red Raiders in the championship game by a 7-3 count.
Just like that, BU's scintillating trek through an 11-game postseason had come to an abrupt end. There would be no Battle of Commonwealth Avenue II in Motown to determine the NCAA hockey champion, as had been the case 12 years before at the Providence Civic Center.
When asked about his close call, McEachern indicated that "sometimes you get the bounce and sometimes you don't." He would revisit that thought a year later in the thrilling 1991 NCAA championship game against Northern Michigan, after rebound his shot in overtime glanced off the post, with the Terriers eventually dropping an 8-7 triple-overtime decision to the Wildcats.
"Throughout your career you score some big goals and you miss some," McEachern said 23 years later. "I can think of a few [plays] I would like to have back, but that's hockey. I feel fortunate to have been in those situations in a sport I loved to play."
For Parker, it all came down to the play between the pipes.
"The difference between this [Colgate] and the North Dakota series or the Michigan State series was that we were down in the third and we weren't facing Dave Gagnon," he told the Globe. "All along I said that if we were going to win, we had to solve him, and we didn't solve him. We didn't generate our offense. It was a very slow game. They played very well defensively the whole night, but it was very difficult passing the puck. There was not a lot of good passing by either team.
"Give Colgate credit. It's the season of that school's hockey career. Terry Slater is going to be playing on the last day of the college hockey season. He's a great guy, and that's great."
After scoring a season-high of 158 goals during the previous three seasons, BU's 25-17-2 squad connected for 180 in 1989-90, 36 more than its opponents. The Terriers outscored the opposition in every period, including an impressive 61-35 in the third. Of the team's 52 power-play goals in 230 opportunities, Joe Sacco led the way with 12 and Amonte contributed 11. On the penalty kill BU allowed only 40 goals in 219 opportunities.
Amonte provided instant impact in his first season wearing a BU jersey and his 25 goals and team-best 33 assists gave him a team-leading 58 points, making him the first freshman to lead the Terriers in scoring since Mark Fidler (65 points) during BU's 1977-78 national championship season. He also led the Terriers with nine game-winning goals and was named the New England Rookie of the Year and to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team. He left BU after his 31-goal sophomore season in 1990-91 (being named to the All-Hockey East Second Team) and went on to play in the NHL for five different teams, primarily the Blackhawks, scoring 900 points (416 goals, 484 assists) in 1,174 games. He was also a member of the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1998 and 2002 and scored the game-winning goal against Canada in the third and deciding game of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. In 2009 Amonte was elected into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame—joining a group of former Terriers in the Hall including Keith Tkachuk, Jack Kelley and the Terrier quartet from the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, Mike Eruzione, O'Callahan, Craig and Silk—and he recently completed his third season as varsity hockey coach at his alma mater, Thayer Academy.
Amonte's education as a hockey player grew by leaps and bounds on Babcock Street.
"You just knew going in there [BU] it would be an exciting challenge, and even though I only ended up playing two years, they were two great years," he told NHL.com. "I attended BU because I wanted to play for Jack Parker. I really didn't even know much about the school, but after one visit, I was sold on Jack because I liked his style and the way he treated the guys."
Amonte's linemates, McEachern and Joe Sacco, were the team's second- and third-leading scorers. McEachern finished with 25 goals and 31 assists for 56 points and Sacco (one of seven Terriers to play in all 44 games, along with Ronan, von Stefenelli, Koskimaki, Regan, Mark Bavis and Mike Bavis) compiled a team-high 28 goals and 24 assists for 52 points. Sacco departed BU after his junior season to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He dressed for a total of five NHL clubs and had 213 points (94 goals, 119 assists) in 738 games and was one of six former Terriers on the 1992 U.S. Olympic team. Sacco is currently serving his fourth season as coach of the Colorado Avalanche after spending two years as coach of the team's AHL affiliate.
McEachern went on to become a First Team All-American and First Team All-Hockey East performer as a junior after scoring 82 points on 34 goals and 48 assists (the second-highest point mark ever in a single season for a BU skater). His overtime breakaway goal to beat Maine, 4-3, in the 1991 Hockey East Championship game would give BU its second conference tournament championship. McEachern left school a year early to play in the 1992 Olympics, but not before accumulating186 career points, ranking sixth on BU's all-time scoring list. His 911-game NHL career produced 256 goals and 323 assists for 579 points and he won a Stanley Cup ring as a member of the 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins. McEachern's post playing career landed him in coaching, and after spending time as an assistant at Northeastern and Lowell, he is currently at the Rivers School, where he serves as the varsity hockey coach and assistant director of athletics.
"We all knew each other before college from playing in different tournaments together," McEachern recently said of the junior-sophomore-freshman makeup of the Commonwealth Line. "I think it was a good line because we all had very good speed. For me it was just great to play with two exceptional players. We were all local guys and it was a close-knit group. I still talk to Joe and Tony on a regular basis, and I actually now coach Joe's son."
Ronan enjoyed the best season of his BU career, collecting 17 goals and 23 assists for 40 points. He went on to play in 182 NHL games, including as a member of the Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens in 1992-93. Tomlinson, the Beanpot MVP, led the team with a plus-27 rating and was named New England's Top Defensive Forward, finishing with 15 goals and 22 assists. He went on to score a career-high 30 goals as a senior in 1990-91, finishing seventh on BU's all-time scoring list with 179 points. Tomlinson played 42 games in the NHL before embarking on a successful nine-year career in the German League.
"My memories for that season were that we would come back better and stronger for our senior year [1990-91]. Our junior class was growing closer and closer as a group and I really believe that the disappointing first two years we had really helped us to appreciate the winning," Tomlinson noted. "I went through a lot that year, as my point totals were down from the previous season. The turning point for me was the Beanpot Tournament.
"I credit Coach Parker for teaching me about playing hard at both ends of the rink. His mid-season meeting with me sharpened my focus as a hockey player. I went from the doghouse to the penthouse that year, and I was really looking forward to a memorable final collegiate season."
Sullivan (11 goals, 20 assists), the captain, provided inspiration and leadership in spades, especially in the postseason, gamely fighting through an ankle injury to help contribute to the team's fortunes. Sullivan's work ethic and ability to play at both ends of the ice allowed him to suit up for four NHL teams, with his career totals reading 54 goals and 82 assists in 709 games. Like several other former Terriers, Sullivan has made a successful transition into coaching. In his four coaching stops, with three in the NHL, he has served as head coach of the Providence Bruins in the AHL for one season; head coach of the Boston Bruins for two seasons; assistant coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning for two seasons and is currently in his fourth season as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers.
Regan and Koskimaki both contributed a dozen goals to the BU attack. Regan's total doubled the amount of goals he had scored in his first three seasons in the lineup. Koskimaki arrived from Finland and centered the second or third line the entire season. The fourth line grinders who provided plenty of energy included McCann and the first-year twins from Catholic Memorial, Mark Bavis (six goals) and Mike Bavis (11 assists). Mike Bavis has become an important cog in the BU program as an assistant coach and recruiter; in 2012-13 completed his 15th season as a member of Parker's staff. McDonald, although slowed by shoulder trouble, still played in 38 games and had four goals.
The defense corps provided a steady presence all year, and BU's total of 142 goals allowed was the lowest total surrendered since the 1983-84 team gave up just 116. The freshman from Quebec, Legault, led all Terrier defenseman with a plus-26 and in points with 30 (nine goals, 21 assists). Von Stefenelli was right behind with a plus-10 and 28 points (eight goals, 20 assists). Ahola, the team's other freshman from Finland, made the Hockey East All-Rookie team while contributing three goals and 20 assists, and he embarked on a 123-game NHL career after playing two seasons at BU, earning a spot on the Hockey East All-Decade Team, alongside the school's all-time leading scorer, John Cullen. Other defensemen of note included Krys, who returned from hernia surgery to play in 30 games, and who as a senior in 1990-91 would serve as team captain; Brownschidle (38 games) and Foster (eight assists).
Forward David Sacco (shoulder) and defenseman Tom Dion (knee), who each played in only three games due to injury, would return in prominent roles as members of the 1990-91 squad that competed in the NCAA championship game. Dion played in 40 games in 90-91 and contributed six goals and 14 assists. He would then earn All-Hockey East First Team honors as a senior captain in 1991-92. Sacco also played in 40 games in 90-91 and had 21 goals and 39 assists. He concluded his BU career in 1992-93 as a two-time First Team All-American with 217 total points (74 goals and 143 assists, the latter tying him with Cullen for first on the all-time BU list) and played in 35 NHL games and for the 1994 U.S. Olympic team.
The last line of defense for the Terriers, Cashman, was one of the key cogs in the team's success. He finished with a record of 23-14-1, a 3.22 goals-against average and 1,027 saves in 39 games, earning him recognition as Hockey East Rookie of the Year and a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie team. Bradley was 2-3-1 with a 3.18 GAA in seven games as the backup.
Prior to the Final Four, Parker was asked what Cashman, the freshman from Ontario, had meant to BU's success, especially with the team's goalies having struggled over previous three seasons.
"He's given us way more than we expected," he told the Globe. "We recruited him to come in and play right away, but he's gone beyond to be as effective as he has. What a competitor. He's been a stalwart all year long."
And Cashman (60-31-4 in his four-year career as a Terrier, with his 60 wins ranking third all-time in school history) felt very comfortable fitting into his new hockey environment.
"This has been the best experience of my life, the best year of my life," he noted in the Globe. "I'll always love Kanata [Ontario], and that will be my home. But now it seems like this city has kind of adopted me."
In an unfortunate and tragic twist of fate, two members of the team would be lost within a span of seven years. Mark Bavis, while scouting for the Los Angeles Kings, was a passenger on the United Airlines plane that was hijacked and crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. He was 31 years old. In an eerie coincidence, Mark Krys, working as a trader in the South Tower, was on the 44th floor when United 175 crashed into the building. Fortunately, he was able to quickly escape by elevator before the tower collapsed. Then, in 2008 the player Parker described as "happy-go-lucky," Cashman, died suddenly from a heart ailment. He was 39 years old.
More than two decades since its conclusion in Detroit, BU's 1989-90 campaign still resonates with the team's captain.
"It was just a great experience. It's probably one of the most exciting times that I had as a hockey player, both as a amateur player and a pro," Sullivan told host Bernie Corbett on the show Inside BU Hockey. "It was a tight-knit team off the ice when looking back at some of the players I played with. Beating Michigan State in their own building to go to the Final Four certainly was the thrill of a lifetime. I felt our team had a legitimate chance to be national champions, but we just fell short, and that was heartbreaking."
Although the goal of winning BU's fourth national championship eluded them, the 1989-90 Terriers nonetheless undertook the critical role of rebuilding the foundation of the program, helping restore it back to national prominence. They were the trailblazers for a highly successful 11-year stretch of hockey, one that included an overall record of 293-112-34, one NCAA title (1995), seven Final Four appearances, four Hockey East championships and 10 Beanpot titles. It was a prosperous journey for the BU program that commenced with a 5-4 road win at Colgate on October 28, 1989 and ended with an epic 3-2 loss to St. Lawrence in the fourth overtime of the NCAA quarterfinals on March 26, 2000 at the Pepsi Arena in Albany.