Tuesday, April 7, 2015
1994-95 31-6-3 (16-5-3 Hockey East, 1st - tie)
Coach: Jack Parker
Captain: Jacques Joubert
10/15 E Brown Arena New Brunswick (ex) 7-6
10/28 W Houston Rensselaer 5-1
10/30 T Brown Arena Maine * 3-3 ot
11/04 W Brown Arena UMass Lowell * 9-7
11/05 T Tully Forum UMass Lowell * 7-7 ot
11/11 L Matthews Arena Northeastern * 1-3
11/12 W Brown Arena Northeastern * 4-2
11/18 W Mullins Center Massachusetts * 7-0
11/19 W Brown Arena Massachusetts * 7-4
11/22 W Bright Center Harvard 6-1
11/25 W The Forum Princeton (GWF) 6-2
11/27 L The Forum Maine (GWF) 5-6 ot
12/02 L Alfond Arena Maine * 5-6
12/03 T Alfond Arena Maine * 5-5 ot
12/07 W Brown Arena Vermont 11-1
12/10 W Brown Arena Dartmouth 10-2
12/30 W Mariucci Arena Western Michigan (MC) 5-2
12/31 W Mariucci Arena Minnesota (MC) 4-3 ot
01/06 W Brown Arena New Hampshire * 5-1
01/10 W Schneider Arena Providence * 9-2
01/13 L Brown Arena Merrimack * 2-3
01/14 W Brown Arena Northeastern * 6-2
01/20 W Conte Forum Boston College * 7-4
01/21 W Brown Arena Boston College * 5-1
01/26 L Cumberland CC New Hampshire * 2-4
01/28 W Brown Arena New Hampshire * 7-3
02/03 W Mullins Center Massachusetts * 5-1
02/06 W Boston Garden Northeastern (Pot) 6-2
02/10 W Tully Forum UMass Lowell * 9-6
02/13 W Boston Garden Boston College (Pot) 5-1
02/17 L Schneider Arena Providence * 1-8
02/18 W Brown Arena Providence * 6-3
02/24 W Lawler Arena Merrimack * 4-1
02/25 W Brown Arena Merrimack * 5-3
03/04 W Brown Arena Boston College * 10-3
03/12 W Brown Arena Merrimack (HE) 4-3
03/17 W Boston Garden UMass Lowell (HE) 4-2
03/18 W Boston Garden Providence (HE) 3-2
03/25 W DCU Center Lake Superior (NCAA) 6-2
03/30 W Providence CC Minnesota (NCAA) 7-3
04/01 W Providence CC Maine (NCAA) 6-2
Key to Tournaments
GWF Great Western Bank Freezeout
HE Hockey East Tournament
MC Mariucci Classic
NCAA NCAA Tournament
Pot Beanpot Tournament
Monday, April 6, 2015
The 1994-95 Terriers: Drought Busters
The audience starts cheering
The spotlight's on you
As the scene grows before you
The mirror is set
A performance we will not forget
For this is the show of our lives
Since losing to Harvard 4-2 in the first round of the Beanpot in early February, BU had gone 7-0-1 over an eight-game stretch, starting with an 8-0 wipeout of Northeastern in the Beanpot consolation game and finishing with a 6-1 home win over Providence in the regular season finale, a contest that included a third-period brawl that led to the ejection of four players from each team.
The Terriers had clinched the top seed in the Hockey East playoffs by winning 21 of 24 league games, and they looked to be a favorite to capture the school's third league tournament title while at the same time earning an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, where they would return for a fifth straight year.
In a bizarre set of circumstances, BU's reward for earning the top seed was a quarterfinal round matchup against Maine, the defending NCAA champions. Coming off a memorable 42-1-2 season -- with the only loss courtesy of a gutsy BU comeback in Orono when the Terriers scored five unanswered goals, capped off by Mike Prendergast's game winner in overtime -- the Black Bears and coach Shawn Walsh ran afoul of the NCAA for the use of two ineligible players (Jeff Tory and Patrice Tardif) and were forced to forfeit 14 wins from the season, dropping them from a home ice berth to the basement of the Hockey East standings with a 3-20-1 record. The league had attempted to ban Maine from the postseason tournament due to the forfeits, but the school went to court and was granted an injunction by a judge to play. Parker and his squad were actually looking forward to the challenge the Black Bears would present, helping prepare them for a potential spot in the semifinal round at Boston Garden.
BU went 2-1-1 against Maine during the season, and the Black Bears were missing several stars from their national championship squad (offensive catalysts Paul Kariya and Jim Montgomery, defenseman Chris Imes and goalies Mike Dunham and Garth Snow), but the Ferraro brothers Peter (back from the U.S. Olympic team) and Chris (back from the U.S. National team) had returned to boost Maine's lineup and Tardif had regained his eligibility for the series. The Terriers would also enter Game 1 shorthanded with goalie J.P McKersie, defensemen Doug Wood and Chris O'Sullivan and forward Jay Pandolfo all banned from playing as a result of the season-ending tussle with the Friars.
Nonetheless, there was plenty of emotion and offensive fireworks inside Walter Brown Arena once the teams got down to the task of settling things on the ice. BU broke out fast and scored the first four goals, with two coming from Bob Lachance en route to his second career hat trick. Justin Tomberlin finally got Maine on the scoreboard in the second period with the first of Maine's five power-play goals (BU was whistled for 14 penalties, Maine 12), ending BU goalie Derek Herlofsky's scoreless string at 116 minutes and 20 seconds, but Rich Brennan countered for the Terriers with a shot from the blue line less than 20 seconds later.
Tomberlin picked up another goal off a rebound but Dan Donato's shot that deflected off a Maine player made it 6-2 less than four minutes into the final period, with Walsh replacing goalie Blair Allison with Blair Marsh at that point. Lachance then finished off his hat trick before three straight Maine goals from Peter Ferraro, Mike Latendresse and Cal Ingraham made it a two-goal game with 55 seconds left.
Mike Pomichter ended the drama with an empty net goal with only 13 seconds to go as the Terriers outlasted the Black Bears 8-5 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 series.
"It's why they're No. 1 in the country. They outskated us. They outworked us. They outcoached us. They outplayed us," Walsh noted in the The Boston Globe. "When you get five power-play goals, you shouldn't lose a game. I tip my hat to them."
BU's four suspended players returned to the lineup for Game 2 and they made their presence known throughout the contest. Unlike the previous night, however, it was the Black Bears who struck first when Peter Ferraro beat McKersie just 1:21 in. Later in the period BU evened the score when Shawn Bates tipped a Pandolfo feed past Marsh, but it was a period mostly owned by Maine as it established a 12-3 shot advantage.
O'Sullivan put the Terriers up 2-1 with a power-play strike but the Black Bears responded by ramping up the pressure on McKersie. The BU goaltender was equal to the task as he turned back scoring attempts from Tardif, Latendresse, Tim Lovell and Reg Cardinal. Parker felt that BU withstanding that flurry was a key point of the contest.
Ingraham lifted the Black Bears into a tie with yet another power-play goal but with less than two minutes left in the period Pandolfo answered with a power-play goal of his own to give BU a 3-2 edge heading onto the final 20 minutes. The lead increased to 4-2 at 2:15 of the third period when Jon Jenkins took Jon Pratt's crisp pass in stride and hit the back of the net.
Ingraham again brought Maine back to within one with a redirect of Peter Ferraro's shot, but McKersie, who finished with 30 saves, shut the door the rest of the way to post his sixth straight win. The BU goalie had to withstand a Maine power play inside the final three minutes and an extra attacker situation over the final 40 seconds. As the final seconds of the game wound down, he was in possession of the puck.
"I looked up, saw there were three seconds left, and what a great feeling it was," he told the Globe.
The Brown Arena partisans let out an appreciative roar when the final buzzer sounded and the defending national champions had been eliminated. The team also emerged out of the locker room for a curtain call when the cheers continued.
Northeastern, which had lost four of five games against BU during the season, was the semifinal round opponent at Boston Garden. The Terriers made it five out of six against the Huskies following a 5-2 victory, with Jacques Joubert chipping in with a pair of goals, Kaj Linna picking up two assists and Herlofsky posting his 10th straight win while making 28 saves. It was also BU's 100th all-time win against NU and improved its record to 31-6, setting the school single-season record for wins.
O'Sullivan and Pomichter scored and Herlofsky came up with 11 saves to stake BU to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period. In the second period goals by Joubert and Mike Grier overcame scores by NU's Jordan Shields and David Penney. Joubert's shot from the right faceoff circle was the only goal of the final period, with Herlofsky logging 28 saves and NU counterpart Todd Reynolds 29.
"Both teams played a very technically sound game. I think the difference was that we put the puck home on our chances while Herlofsky came up big on their chances," Parker said in the Globe. "I was a little concerned going into the third period leading, 4-2. It was like that early this season and they won, 5-4. I told our kids that we've been practicing the past four months. You play all year to determine your champion, and that is the team that plays the best hockey in Boston Garden in March."
Looking to avenge a 5-2 loss to Maine in the 1993 Hockey East championship game, BU faced second-seeded UMass-Lowell for the title. The Chiefs (since renamed the River Hawks) roster included Norm Bazin, the school's current coach, Hockey East scoring leader Greg Bullock (47 points) and future NHL goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
Roloson was busy in the early going as BU applied steady pressure, but he made two big saves on Pandolfo from in close to keep the game scoreless. The Chiefs broke the ice on the power play when Bullock beat McKersie with just under eight minutes left in the opening period. BU responded 27 seconds later with Pratt tucking the puck past Roloson.
Just 1:37 into the second period the Terriers went on top thanks to a pair of freshmen when Bates faked a shot and put a pass on the stick of Grier on the left wing, with Grier finishing off the play with a goal. A nice individual effort by Kenny Rausch increased BU's lead to 3-1 when he took the puck away from a UML defenseman and lifted a backhand shot into the net. The Chiefs made it a one-goal game again when Bullock picked up his second tally of the night at 11:48 of the second period, but McKersie turned away every other shot he faced, 22 in all for the game, to help BU to a 3-2 win and its first trophy on Boston Garden ice since the '92 Beanpot. Roloson, who finished with 37 stops, was named the tournament MVP.
Ranked No.1 in the nation and possessing a 32-6 record, BU earned the top seed in the East Region of the NCAA tournament. After a first round bye, the Terriers were matched up with 26-14-1 Wisconsin in the quarterfinals in Albany, with the No. 4 West seed Badgers having advanced via a 6-3 win over Western Michigan.
Wisconsin went ahead 1-0 early in the first period on a rebound goal by defenseman Mike Doers, but for the remainder of the game, BU threw a virtual defensive blanket over the Badgers, limiting them to just 14 shots on Herlofsky for the game, including only two in the second period. Prendergast knotted the score with a goal from the left side of the cage. Second-period goals from Pandolfo and Rausch gave the Terriers a comfortable lead, and Prendergast had the only goal of the third period on a feed from Joubert, beating UW goalie and Dorchester native Jim Carey from 15 feet out, wrapping up the 4-1 triumph.
"I knew I was going to score," South Boston's Prendergast told the Globe. "Last night I saw New Hampshire beat RPI and the goals were scored by Rob Donovan and Scott Malone from Southie. Then when I saw the news on TV Friday night and I saw Brian Noonan from Southie score for the Rangers."
For Jack Parker, it was all a matter of taking care of play in the neutral zone.
"I thought we were really in control of the pace of the game. We actually had more control of center ice than I thought we would," he commented in the Globe. "We beat them to the red line and stopped their initial rushes. We knew that if we let their forwards get going, they would cause a lot of problems. We also did a great job killing penalties (BU made 11 trips to the box; Wisconsin 15).
"[Defenseman] Rich [Brennan] played like an All-American, Mike [Prendergast] took advantage of opportunities as he has for three years, and [Captain] Doug [Friedman] showed excellent leadership again."
It was on to the Final Four for BU for the fourth time in five seasons and the semifinal round opponent was No. 2 West seed Minnesota, with the game being played in the Gophers' backyard at the St. Paul Civic Center. That was the same rink where the Terriers' memorable 1990-91 season had ended with an 8-7 defeat in a triple-overtime classic against Northern Michigan in the title game.
Minnesota had earned a spot in the semifinals by squeezing by UMass-Lowell 2-1 in double overtime. Of the 16,000-plus fans in the building for the matchup with BU, the vast majority would be cheering for the hometown team.
The best way to muzzle a partisan crowd is to take it to the home team on the scoreboard and that's just what the Terriers did in the opening period, outshooting the Gophers 17-5 and putting three pucks in the net. BU got started when Friedman fed Lachance with a pass behind the defense and Lachance finished off the play with a backhander past Minnesota goalie Jeff Callinan. The team's leading scorer, Pomichter, struck less than three minutes later on a rebound of an O'Sullivan shot, and the Terriers added a power-play tally at the 18:43 mark when center Steve Thornton pounced on a rebound of a Brennan shot and put it between Callinan's pads, sending the crowd into a stunned silence.
The Gophers answered BU's surge and got the crowd back into the game with a 15-5 shot advantage in the second period, including the first 11. But the Gophers only beat McKersie once, on a shot by Bobby Dustin in the slot, and the Terriers still owned a 3-1 lead heading into the final 20 minutes.
"I thought we made our adjustments in the second period," Parker commented in the Globe. "I told them, 'We're not holding our positions. We're going to attack. We're going to go for it. George Patton.' We're much more effective playing aggressive forechecking."
The teams each took 11 shots in the last period but only one lit the lamp when Pomichter scored his 28th of the season with 5:48 left, sapping any remaining energy out of the Gopher fans hoping for a rally.
McKersie came up with 31 saves but drowning out the crowd noise turned out to be a challenge.
"I kept hearing them spell out M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A," he said in the Globe. "I kept hearing it over and over again."
It was the penultimate game of senior captain Doug Friedman's 150-game career, and his assist on the first goal was his 104th point in a BU uniform. With the victory over the Gophers he also moved to the top of the list of BU players who had played on the winningest teams in program history, with the Terriers' record over Friedman's four years standing at an impressive 113-36-8 for a .720 winning percentage.
"You just have to credit BU," Minnesota coach Doug Woog told the Globe. "They're solid. They have depth, great defense and good goaltending. They deserve to be in the position they're in."
That position was playing for a national championship, something the Terriers had done three years earlier against Northern Michigan. But if that Wildcats team was all about speed and scoring, BU's opponent in the 1994 NCAA title game, Lake Superior State, was all about aggressive defense, tenacious forechecking and cashing in on scoring opportunities when opponents turned the puck over, which was often. BU had certainly gotten a taste of that 12 months earlier in Milwaukee.
Playing in the '93 NCAA semifinals in Milwaukee against the Lakers, BU was stopped cold by Lake State's relentless defense that offered BU's skaters no space to do anything with the puck anywhere on the ice. The Lakers scored two power-play goals in the second period to offset Friedman's marker (on assist from David Sacco, giving him 217 career points, good for second on the school's all-time scoring list) to make it a 4-1 game, and they finished up the 6-1 rout with two more third-period scores, sending BU home with a 29-9-2 record. It was a hard dose of reality for the Terriers, who had been averaging 4.9 goals and 36 shots per game, but they were smothered by the Lakers while being limited to a single goal and 26 shots.
A year later those same Lakers were now standing in the way of BU's fourth NCAA title. As the fourth seed out of the West, Lake Superior (27-10-4) had been living on the edge during every phase of the '94 postseason. The Lakers defeated Northeastern 6-5 in OT in the first round, with an apparent goal by NU's Shields late in the third period not being allowed by the referees. Next was a 5-4 OT win over Michigan in the quarterfinals, a team the Lakers had lost to 3-0 in the CCHA final a week earlier. Then came the semifinals against a speedy and peaking Harvard team. The result was a 3-2 overtime win for the Lakers on a goal by Clayton Beddoes, as they once again put the defensive clamps on an offensively-talented squad, heading for the NCAA title game for the third straight season.
Based on the result the season before in Milwaukee, Parker knew the Terriers would have their hands full.
"They're an in-your-face, man-to-man team. They're right on top of you," he commented in the Globe. "They will frustrate teams because they're so tenacious. He [Coach Jeff Jackson] recruits players for a system and gets them to stick to it."
At the same time, Jackson knew that the Terriers, winners of a dozen straight, would present their own set of challenges.
"I was impressed with their size, their speed and their transition game," he told the Globe. "They're very deep up front and they have a very solid defense and a couple of guys who can shoot the puck. We're going to have to make sure their transition game doesn't work against us. We can't afford to turn the puck over a lot."
The first period turned out to be a bad omen for the Terriers as they were held to a season-low two shots on goal. Lachance had a shot ring off the post that rolled across the crease in the early going, but after that the offense went cold. Holding a 1-0 lead after the first 20 minutes, the Lakers scored the first two goals of the second period on shots by Matt Alvey and Kurt Miller. Brennan's power-play strike from the left point put the Terriers on the board, but Jay Ness added a power-play goal for the Lakers and Parker sent in McKersie to replace Herlofsky in net.
More BU penalties led to more opportunities for the Lakers and before the period was over they had extended their lead to 6-1 on goals by Steve Barnes and Sean Tallaire, leaving the game result in little doubt. For the Terriers, who had averaged 4.9 goals per game in their previous 40 matchups, there would be no breaking through the wall that was the Lake State defense and goaltending (Blaine Lacher made 28 saves).
The Lakers tacked on three more goals in the final period, sending the Terriers (who finished with a 34-7 record, the second-most wins in school history) to a disconcerting 9-1 defeat in the most lopsided NCAA championship game since 1961, when Denver blew out St. Lawrence 12-2.
"When the score was 4-1 we lost our poise," Parker lamented in the Globe. "The difference in focus and effort between the team in white (BU) and the team in blue (Lake State) was marked. What I told the team after the game was that we were mere shadows of ourselves and there was a haze over us.
"That was our doing, and an awful lot of that was the way Lake Superior State was playing. People talk that they play well along the wall and they play a clutch-and-grab game, but I think their game is effort. We got outworked. We got out-disciplined. Those were the two biggest factors."
Months later, after fully digesting the collapse against the Lakers, Parker still felt a keen sense of disappointment for his club.
"I told them [players] that I felt bad for them. I felt for our school and I felt bad for the uniform, but most important I felt bad for the 20 guys in the dressing room," he said. "They had such a terrific year and for some reason we just unraveled in the biggest game of the year."
Having been soundly beaten in the season's most important game, one that was broadcast nationally on ESPN, the BU coaching staff and returning players had plenty of time to contemplate just how badly things had gone in St. Paul, and what exactly it would take to get back in position to play for an NCAA title, an achievement that had eluded the grasp of the program for 16 years.
Five seniors had departed from the squad at the end of the school year and one junior had left school early to sign a pro contract. An unforeseen injury to another key returnee over the summer would leave Parker with plenty of work to do in shaping the roster for the start of the 1994-95 campaign.
Among the five departing seniors was the captain, Friedman, who was voted the Top Defensive Forward in New England while also contributing nine goals and 23 assists, and one of five players on the team to play in all 41 games; Pratt (11 goals, eight assists), who along Friedman gave the Terriers two of the most physical forwards in Hockey East while also being able to chip in to the offensive attack; forward Jon Jenkins (12 goals, nine assists), voted the team's Unsung Hero; and defensemen Donato (four goals, 17 assists) and Stephen Foster.
Pomichter (team-leading 28 goals and 54 points while being named to the All-American First Team) caused an obvious void in the offense when he turned pro after his junior season. A second-round selection of Chicago in the 1991 NHL Draft, he left Boston to play for the Indianapolis Ice in the International League. Another senior-to-be not suiting up for a completely different reason was goaltender J.P. McKersie, who was coming off a season in which he was named to the All-American Second Team while posting a 19-4 record (including wins in the Beanpot, Hockey East playoffs and NCAA tournament) and a 2.90 goals against average. While riding home from work on his bike one night over the summer, McKersie collided with a car in Allston and was seriously injured. He was transported to a hospital and was in a coma for six days after suffering a serious brain injury, one that would put his career on hold while he went through a grueling rehab program to gradually put his life back in order.
With McKersie sidelined there were still seven other returning seniors, all of whom had the back-to-back thrashings by Lake State in the NCAAs in the back of their minds. Leading the way was team captain and center Jacques Joubert, a native of basketball-mad Indiana who had begun his career at Princeton and then transferred to BU in 1991. Joubert was a strong addition to the program and in two seasons he had contributed 37 goals and 42 assists, garnering All-American Second Team and All-Hockey East First Team honors in 1993-94 with 20 goals (five game-winners) and 24 assists. Another center, Steve Thornton, was the best defender among the forwards, in addition to being a dependable faceoff man and point producer (103 points in his first three seasons). Mike Prendergast, after missing time with injuries as a sophomore, rebounded with 15 goals and 18 assists as a junior. Center Ken Rausch, who scored the game-winner against UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East championship game, had played in a career-high 31 games. Serving as senior assistant captains were defenseman Rich Brennan and goalie Derek Herlofsky. Brennan was BU's most decorated returning defender, joining Joubert on the All-American Second Team along with being an All-Hockey East First Team selection and being named Team MVP and the Top Defenseman in New England with eight goals and a team-high 27 assists. Herlofsky was on the All-Hockey East Second Team and First Team All-New England, splitting time in goal with McKersie and in 20 starts compiling a 15-3 record with a 2.50 goals against average. Improving Finnish defenseman Kaj Linna supplied 4 goals and 13 assists in 34 games.
The junior class was small in number but had a trio of key performers. Forward Jay Pandolfo had been a consistent point-getter in his first two years on the team with 34 goals and 48 assists, and his five game-winning goals as a sophomore tied Joubert for the team lead. Forward Bob Lachance -- the younger brother of former Terrier defenseman Scott Lachance, a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team who by the fall of '94 was playing in his fourth season with the New York Islanders -- doubled his scoring output as a sophomore with 13 goals and 19 assists. The lone defenseman, Doug Wood, had plenty of experience to fall back on, having played in 70 games in his first two years.
The sophomore class was the biggest on the team with eight players and was comprised of four forwards: the blazing fast Shawn Bates (10 goals, 19 assists and a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie Team), the powerful Mike Grier (nine goals, nine assists), Bill Pierce (four goals, four assists) and Matt Wright; three defensemen: Chris O'Sullivan (23 points as a redshirt freshman after bouncing back from a neck injury and surgery that wiped out his true freshman season after just five games), Jon Coleman (14 assists) and Shane Johnson (eight assists); and backup goalie Shawn Ferullo. With the offensive skill and capability that O'Sullivan had shown from the back end, Parker, in an effort to boost his attack (especially after losing Pomichter), made the decision to shift him from defense to left wing, a position he had played at Catholic Memorial.
A seven-member freshman class was brought in to augment the team's depth and skill. Among the newcomers was forward Chris Drury, the younger brother of U.S. Olympian and former Harvard star Ted; forward Peter Donatelli, the younger brother of U.S. Olympian and former BU standout Clark; forward Mike Sylvia, coming off a single-season scoring record set at Catholic Memorial, the alma mater of his new coach; forward John Hynes, a former All-State player from Rhode Island; defenseman Chris Kelleher, a 107-point career scorer at St. Sebastian's; defenseman Jeff Kealty, a team captain who played alongside Sylvia at Catholic Memorial; and goalie Tom Noble, the third member of the Catholic Memorial group who had put together an overall high school record of 55-2-1. With the unfortunate injury scenario sidelining McKersie, Noble would take on a much larger role on the team than originally anticipated.
Despite the crushing loss in the NCAA title game, BU still returned plenty of talent from a 34-win team, and as a result, many in the media felt the Terriers were deserving of the No. 1 ranking heading into the 1994-95 season. The Sporting News, in its annual hockey yearbook, summed up the Terriers' top ranking thusly: "Weaknesses so few, it has to BU."
Parker realized he had the makings of another contender in Hockey East and for a Final Four berth, but he also knew that a new season would bring its own set of challenges and that his squad still had to prove itself on the ice.
"This team could be pretty good. Our expectations are that this will be a solid team that has both depth and talent," Parker noted. "You don't always win with depth and talent, though. The effort put out by the players, as well as the chemistry on this team, will be a measuring stick of our success.
"It's nice to have people think that we're going to be good this year. Preseason polls don't mean anything, though. In fact, sometimes they can be disconcerting. Teams can get full of themselves because of the polls. High expectations are nothing more than that --expectations. I think any one of five or six teams could win the title this year."
For the team captain, Joubert, the focus of the returning players on having success in the upcoming season was all driven by the frustration caused by the NCAA title game rout.
"There's no question that 1993-94 was a massive disappointment," Joubert recently told Inside BU Hockey host Bernie Corbett. "We had a great team and some great guys. I always, to this day, feel bad for the seniors on that team that didn't get a chance to come back. But as disappointing as that loss was, we were able to come back with a strong team, some strong freshmen, and we were just as deep, if not deeper. The one thing that a 9-1 loss did to everybody in that locker room was to make us even more determined.
"There was a determination in the room all year. We went into that season with an attitude where we didn't want to lose a single game. Obviously we did lose some games, but we went out every night trying to prove something, and I think a lot of it had to do with such a bad loss to Lake Superior State in that final game."
BU opened the season on October 28 at a sold-out Houston Field House against host RPI. The Terriers had no problem getting their offense going, putting 37 shots on Engineers goalie Mike Tamburro, and with Joubert scoring a pair of goals and Rausch picking up three assists, it added up to a 5-1 victory.
A rare Sunday night home opener at Walter Brown Arena was next, and a sellout crowd was there to watch the first of five meetings during the season between BU and reigning NCAA champion Maine. It was also an emotional night for the team as their injured goaltender, McKersie, still undergoing intensive rehab for the injuries suffered in his bike accident, made a return to campus to help raise the '94 Hockey East championship banner. McKersie was assisted onto the ice by Herlofsky and Brennan.
Joubert converted a pass from Rausch for a 1-0 BU lead but the Black Bears tied it up on a goal by Jacque Rodrigue. Later in the period the visitors went ahead when Dan Shermerhorn scored on a five-on-three power play. Maine increased its lead to 3-1 when Shawn Wansborough notched a power-play goal for the only scoring of the second period. The Black Bears had two men in the penalty box when Grier scored just 70 seconds into the third period and the Terriers pulled even when Lachance hit the back of the net at 9:57.
The goalies stood their ground the rest of the way, with Herlofsky finishing with 20 saves and Allison 23. The final buzzer of the scoreless overtime was followed with a new twist as Hockey East became the first league in the country to have a shootout follow tie games. BU's first-ever shootout went perfectly as Herlofsky stopped all three Maine attempts by Barry Clukey, Scott Parmentier and Lovell while Joubert, Prendergast and Rausch all connected on their attempts, giving the home team an extra point in the standings.
Cracks in BU's team defense showed the following weekend in a pair of games against UMass-Lowell.
In the first game at WBA, the River Hawks jumped out to a 3-1 lead through 20 minutes, and after Jeff Daw scored Lowell's fourth power-play goal of the game early in the second period to make it 5-1, Parker pulled Herlofsky from the net. According to the BU coach, Herlofsky's play wasn't the cause of his exit, it was the play of the team in front of him.
"I told the players I was taking Herlofsky out of the game, but it wasn't because he was playing badly," Parker stated in the Globe. "It was because the rest of the team stunk."
Enter Noble for his first action on the college level. The first shot he faced, a dipping, long-range one from the blue line by David Mayes, went into the net to push the score to 6-2 Lowell. Bates gave the home team a little life with a shorthanded tally, as he gained possession in BU's end, burst into the River Hawks' zone and shot the puck past Martin Fillion. Three minutes later, Coleman connected, and that was followed by a power-play strike from O'Sullivan. With less than two minutes to play in the period, a goal by Prendergast pulled the Terriers even as WBA erupted in cheers.
O'Sullivan completed his first career hat trick 1:59 into the third period and two more BU power-play goals followed, one from Joubert and the other from Grier, giving the Terriers a 9-6 lead and finishing off their seven-goal run, much to the delight of most of 3,517 in attendance. Noble posted 22 saves in relief, Bates added a pair of scores and Brennan contributed three assists.
But with 13 penalties and some shoddy team defense, Parker was less than pleased.
"I don't think I can remember a BU team taking so many stupid penalties (13). It was a bad exhibition of hockey," he told the Globe. "Maybe it's pressure, maybe it's that the players think they are better than they are. I don't know what it is, but it better change."
Things changed for the better the next night at Tully Forum as far as penalties were concerned (BU was whistled for six), but the defense was still sloppy and didn't play well in its own end, and Herlofsky allowed seven goals on 24 shots. Still, the Terriers managed to forge a 7-7 tie with a three-goal third period (Lowell won the shootout 2-1 for the extra point), with Bates and Pierce chipping in with a pair of goals each. Despite the win and tie, Parker was still left concerned by the overall poor play of his club.
The Terriers suffered their first defeat of the season on November 11 against Northeastern at Matthews Arena by a count of 3-1. Thornton was the lone goal scorer as NU goalie Mike Veisor had a strong night, stopping 31 shots. The teams went at it again the next night at Walter Brown Arena and BU ramped up the offense by putting 48 shots on Huskies goalie Todd Reynolds. The result was two goals for Grier and one each for Bates and Drury, with the latter collecting his first career point, in the Terriers' 4-2 victory.
Before taking a brief break for Thanksgiving, the Terriers reeled off three more wins, two against Massachusetts (with the Minutemen competing in their first year in Hockey East) and one against Harvard. BU romped at the Mullins Center 7-0 behind six different goal scorers (led by Grier's two) and Herlofsky was called upon to make only 14 saves for the shutout. His counterpart, UMass goaltender Dave Kilduff, had to turn away 50 shots. In the rematch in Boston, it was a big night for Grier as his first career hat trick and one assist, to go with two assists each for O'Sullivan and Thornton and the first career victory for Noble (22 saves), helped BU to a 7-4 win. Brian Regan had 40 saves in net for UMass, as the Terriers finished the weekend sweep by putting 104 shots on goal. With 11 goals and six assists through eight games, Grier, who worked hard on his conditioning and quickness on the ice between his freshman and sophomore years, was leading the league in scoring.
"He [Grier] is the total hockey player. He's as good a two-way player as there is," Parker noted in the Globe. "I don't think I can remember him turning the puck over this weekend. He has a great sense of what's happening on the ice."
The Minutemen's frustration over being dominated in back-to-back games boiled over inside the final 30 seconds on Saturday night and a skirmish broke out near the BU bench. Three UMass players and two Terriers (Kealty and Sylvia) were tossed for fighting and six other players were caught for roughing or hitting after the whistle as 22 penalties were handed out.
Without Kealty and Sylvia in the lineup as a result of their ejections, the Terriers headed to the Bright Center to take on Harvard, a team that had beaten BU in consecutive years in the Beanpot. BU came out fast and loose in the first period, outshooting the Crimson 14-4. Lachance got the visitors on the board by deflecting a Linna shot past Tripp Tracy and with only 15 seconds left in the period O'Sullivan gave BU a 2-0 lead off an assist from Brennan. The Terriers (owning a 41-17 shot advantage for the game) blew the game open with a four-goal second period and chased Tracy from the crease with O'Sullivan scoring on a rebound, Grier adding two tallies, including deflecting a Brennan shot in, and Rausch tucking in a rebound at 15:58 for a 6-zip lead. Just under four minutes into the final period, Herlofsky had his shutout streak end at 125 minutes and 15 seconds when Steve Martins notched a goal for Harvard, with the Crimson suffering their worst home loss since the 1989-90 season.
It was an excellent way for 6-1-2 BU to head into Turkey Day.
"There was a quiet confidence in the locker room before the game," Parker stated in the Globe. "It's a tough place [Bright Center] to play against a real good team. We wanted a solid effort and I think they were ready to play tonight.
"We lost to them the last two years in the Beanpot and last year we just went through the motions. We had the advantage of still having that sting in our minds. I think we've shown in periods of games how good we could be, but we've never had a thorough effort like we had tonight."
BU would spend Thanksgiving getting ready for an unusual journey, flying 3,000 miles across the country to play in the Great Western Bank Freezeout at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, home of Wayne Gretzky and the L.A. Kings. It was BU's first trip to California since the 1986-87 season, when it played a two-game series against U.S. International in San Diego.
The first opponent in the Freezeout was Princeton, coached by former BU player and assistant coach Toot Cahoon, a member of the school's 1971 and '72 national champion squads. The Terriers posted a 6-2 victory behind a pair of goals from Joubert and three assists from Coleman. Two days later BU met Hockey East foe Maine, which brought a 9-0-3 record into the game. The Terriers exploded for four goals in the second period to grab a two-goal lead, but Maine responded with a three-goal third period to send the game into overtime and Shermerhorn kept the Black Bears undefeated by beating Herlofsky with the game-winning goal.
Maine and BU returned from California and clashed in a two-game set in Orono the following weekend. An overflow crowd of 5,407 was on hand at Alfond Arena for the Friday night matchup and the teams ended the first tied at 1-1 after Linna gave the Terriers an early lead with a low shot that beat Allison, only to have the Black Bears tie it up with Lovell redirecting a shot past Noble. Maine owned the second period and opened up a three-goal lead thanks to tallies by Parmentier, Brad Purdie with the man advantage and Cardinal on a shorthander at 15:38.
Thornton got one back for BU on the power play, but a little over a minute later Lachance was called for a five-minute major for hitting Shermerhorn from behind. Shermerhorn and Imes scored for Maine while Lachance served the penalty and the rout was on. The Terriers showed some grit, though, and scored the final three goals of the game, as Sylvia hit on a rebound, Pandolfo, who had missed the first 11 games while recovering from pulled stomach muscles, netted his first of the campaign, and O'Sullivan added a goal inside the final 10 seconds as Maine hung on for a 6-5 victory.
"I was a little disappointed the way we played the last 10 minutes," Walsh said in the Globe. "But BU played so well in the last 10 minutes. These are games that are fun to be in. Both teams are talented, both teams work and both teams don't quit. It went down to the wire. We really attacked and then we didn't, and they showed how good they can be when you don't attack."
The next night BU fell behind yet again after two periods, this time by a 5-3 margin. But as they had done the night before, the Terriers again mounted a comeback, one that began when Lachance converted a pass from Drury. Grier then tied the score on a thrilling rush from BU's end into the Maine zone, steaming past the defense and finishing it off with a backhander past Allison. Both teams generated chances over the final 14:12 of the game, but the goalies held their ground until the final buzzer and through the five-minute OT, with Allison making 34 saves and Herlofsky 22. The Terriers won the shootout 2-1 on tallies by Bates and Linna. It was the final regular-season meeting between the two schools, but with the way that both teams were playing, it likely wouldn't be the last time they would meet.
Walsh felt that the games between the Black Bears and Terriers featured two of the best teams in the country while Parker was happy that his club had two strong third periods and forged a tie with another comeback.
"We couldn't afford to lose the doubleheader and it was nice to win the shootout," Parker noted in the Globe. "It was nice to get the tie when you outplayed the other club in the third period. I'd much rather if we had gotten the winning goal when we had it around the net and near the crease so many times. I don't think there's any question we've had some real tough games [against Maine] already. We had a great turnaround last night and a good effort tonight."
The Terriers went from the intensity of playing Maine three times in seven days to a pair of routs to wrap up the first semester, as they blasted ECAC foes Vermont 11-1 and Dartmouth 10-2 at Walter Brown Arena. O'Sullivan, Grier and Pierce had two goals apiece and Grier, Pandolfo, Lachance, Sylvia and Brennan two assists against the overmatched Catamounts, whose starting goalie, future Bruin Tim Thomas, was eventually pulled from the game. Dartmouth went through a trio of goalies three days later while Noble picked up his second consecutive win and Ferullo provided late relief in net both nights. Against the Big Green BU was paced by O'Sullivan and Joubert's two-goal outputs and two assists each from Lachance, Coleman, Kealty and Wood.
The first line of O'Sullivan on left wing, Thornton at center and Grier on right wing dominated both games.
"I think our line complements each other," O'Sullivan stated in the Globe. "Mike's certainly improved from last year and it's fun playing with someone like Steve Thornton with his great skills. Mike has the size and intimidation and Steve is small and quick. I look at myself as a little bit of a play maker. I look for those two and I'm certainly getting my chances too."
And for O'Sullivan, just what was it like playing with Grier, a combination of strength, intimidation and offensive prowess?
"I feel sorry for the people who have to play against him," he told the Globe. "I'm really glad he's on my team. He's such a great guy. I have friends who go to Notre Dame and they call me up and say, 'Hey, is Grier really that good?' I tell them, 'Yeah. He is.' "
Another trip out west was on the itinerary as the new year approached and this time the destination was Minnesota for the two-day Mariucci Classic at the University of Minnesota's home rink, Mariucci Arena. With Bates, Grier and Kelleher off competing for the U.S. in the World Junior Championship in Canada, the Terriers would have a thinner lineup than usual;, it didn't have a negative effect on the team's performance as BU defeated Western Michigan, 5-2, in the first game, behind a four-goal third period. Five different players scored goals (BU put 42 shots on Broncos goalie Brian Renfrew) and Noble turned aside 24 shots.
On New Year's Eve, in front of a partisan crowd of more than 9,300 fans, the Terriers faced the primary tenants of the building, the Gophers, who had defeated Yale in their opening game. With the NHL lockout a few weeks from being resolved, the game was also broadcast by ESPN. Goals by Rausch, O'Sullivan and Pandolfo helped BU force an overtime with the scored tied 3-3. In the extra session Rausch carried the puck into the Minnesota zone and executed a perfect give-and-go play with Drury, and after taking a return pass he shot the puck past UM goalie Jeff Callinan to pick up his second goal of the game and clinch the tournament title for the 11-3-3 Terriers. Minneapolis native Herlofsky picked up the win with 24 saves.
"I think that game gave us an indication we could be a real good team defensively, that we didn't have to win games by getting a lot of goals," Parker said of the victory over the Gophers. "We could control the game in our own end and through center ice and take care of opportunities."
With a 5-1 record through his first six games, Noble was also fitting in well with his new team, and his ability to fill the gaping hole caused by McKersie's injury was a key development in BU's success. Knowing his playing time would be limited with the presence of Herlofsky and McKersie already sharing time in net for BU, Noble still chose to be a Terrier, despite Michigan showing a great interest in his services.
"He's [Herlofsky] a great guy and he's really helped me make the transition from high school to college," Noble said in the Globe. "Everybody shoots that much harder [in college], but you have to go in with the same mentality. The action is so much quicker at the college level than it was at the high school level. Scoring opportunities develop much faster in college than in high school. In Hockey East, everybody can play.
"This is a great team. All of the seniors have been so supportive of us freshmen. They have helped us tremendously making the transition from high school to college. They are a great bunch of guys."
The Terriers continued to flex their muscle in the first two Hockey East games back from semester break, topping UNH 5-1 at home and Providence 9-2 on the road, with Drury registering his first career two-goal game in the rout of the Friars. Pandolfo and Wood each picked up two assists against the Wildcats and Thornton, Lachance and Bates did likewise against PC. Ferullo tied his season-high for saves with six in the final period against the Friars.
BU's six-game winning streak came to an end on January 13 in a 3-2 loss to Merrimack at WBA. Warriors goalie Eric Thibeault was the difference-maker in the game as he stopped 54 of 56 shots the Terriers put on net and defenseman Mark Cornforth's second-period goal helped the visitors pull off the surprising result.
Just 24 hours later the Terriers cranked up the offense once and this time they were able to take better opportunity of their scoring chances against visiting Northeastern. That added up to four first-period goals, Prendergast (for his 100th career point) and Thornton with the first two and Grier with the last pair. The lead increased to 6-0 after second-period strikes from O'Sullivan and Thornton, before the Huskies finally solved Herlofsky with the final two goals of the night, one each by Brad Klyn and J.F. Aube.
The Grier-Thornton-O'Sullivan line produced 10 points against NU's goalie Reynolds (46 saves), led by O'Sullivan's trio of assists (giving him 17 for the season) and two goals each from Grier (team-leading 20) and Thornton. But the line almost didn't get a chance to skate together against the Huskies because Parker was considering temporarily breaking them up.
"Stevie Thornton always plays hard," Parker told the Globe. "I thought O'Sullivan and Grier were looking around too much. I gave serious thought to breaking them up. I told them at our pregame meal that I was thinking of breaking them up. They asked to be left together, so I let them stay together."
A home-and-home series with Commonwealth Avenue rival Boston College awaited, and although Maine had become BU's chief adversary in Hockey East, the BU-BC rivalry still had legs and brought out plenty of emotion, despite the Eagles being in the midst of their fourth straight losing season. Former Eagles captain Jerry York was in his first year behind the bench at his alma mater, having returned to the Heights after enjoying coaching success at Clarkson and winning a national title with Bowling Green.
BU had the Eagles on their heels early at the sold-out Conte Forum as Joubert scored his 50th career goal by putting the puck between BC goalie Greg Taylor's pads. Bates and Lachance also added tallies for a three-goal lead, but before the period ended, Dave Hymovitz and Don Chase hit the net for the Eagles to make it 3-2 after one period, rather remarkable considering the Terriers owned a 21-4 shot advantage. In the second period O'Sullivan notched his 19th goal on a power play, Coleman whipped a shot over Taylor's shoulder and Joubert scored again, this time off a rebound on the power play to give BU a four-goal cushion. At 12:13 of the final period BC's Toby Harris cut the lead 6-4 but Herlofsky held BC at bay the rest of the night and Grier added an empty-netter for the 7-4 final. Joubert's three-point game gave him 102 for his career, allowing him to join Thornton and Prendergast in the 100-point club.
Letting the Eagles back into the game in the third period irked Parker.
"We played real well for two periods and then stunk in the third," he mentioned in the Globe. "It was disheartening that we didn't finish it off. We let up. We thought it was over and it wasn't."
The series shifted to Walter Brown Arena the next night. In the previous weekend's home games versus Merrimack and Northeastern, BU shooters let fly with 108 shots on goal, but the opposing goalies were just as hot, making saves on 100 of those shot attempts. The Terriers showed no mercy for Taylor and bombarded the BC cage with 65 shots, but Taylor, playing the game of his life, stopped 60 of those shots. Still, it wasn't enough to prevent the Terriers from posting a 5-1 victory, one in which Noble only had to make 18 saves.
Taylor must've realized it was going to be one of those nights in the first period, as he had to deal with the buzz of the packed WBA crowd and 25 BU shots, with only one getting by to light the lamp. Thornton took a pass from O'Sullivan and lifted a shot that Taylor got his pad on, but the puck then bounced off his shoulder and dropped down past the goal line.
BU had more success in the second period, blowing the game open with four goals, one each from Lachance and Prendergast on the power play, one from Linna with the teams skating four-on-four and one shorthander from Joubert. Hymovitz scored the Eagles' only goal of the period as a parade to the penalty box led to 14 calls against BC and 11 against the Terriers. For the game BC was whistled for 26 penalties for 69 minutes and BU 20 for 49 minutes. Included in those totals was a tussle between Grier and Jerry Buckley, with each earning a game disqualification.
"That was unfortunate [Grier-Buckley fight]," Parker said in the Globe. "Other teams like to run at him [Grier] because he's our toughest player. I don't think he threw a punch but I think the officials did their job."
Taylor was the story of the game, setting a Hockey East single-game record with 60 saves.
"Greg was outstanding," York noted in the Globe. "He did a tremendous job keeping us in there against a team like BU, a team that can win a national title."
With the Whittemore Center under construction, New Hampshire was forced to play its home games at neutral sites during the 1994-95 season. When the Wildcats hosted BU, the game was played at the Cumberland County Coliseum in Maine. UNH made the CCC feel like home against the Terriers on a Thursday night following a 4-2 victory. The Wildcats opened up a 2-0 lead in the first period, and behind 40 saves from Trent Cavicchi held the visitors in check.
Two nights later the scenario on Babcock Street was very different. After the teams went to the locker room tied 2-2 at the completion of the first period, BU outscored the Wildcats 5-1 over the last two periods of a 7-3 victory. The only bad news of the night for BU was a kneecap injury that Thornton suffered, causing him to leave the game, but not before he had scored the Terriers' fourth goal of the night off a pass from O'Sullivan. The injury would only cause Thornton to miss one game, but it ended his consecutive games played streak at 135, one which dated back to the 1991-92 season. Grier chipped in with two goals to give him 21 for the season and O'Sullivan handed out three assists.
"Right off the bat we got right after them," Grier told the Globe. "Sometimes we think our talent can carry us through, and we can lose or tie. Every point is valuable now and we have to get better and better."
The first game of February amounted to a 5-1 defeat of Massachusetts, with five different players scoring goals, Joubert and Prendergast each notching two assists and Noble only having to make 13 saves while Regan compiled 51 stops for UMass.
Back-to-back losses to Harvard in the Beanpot, in the championship game in 1993 and in the first round in '94, gave the Terriers plenty of incentive to restore order and win the tournament in its final season being played in the 66-year-old Boston Garden.
"These are the games you want to remember," said Parker in the Globe, giving a nod to the building's long history. "We'd love to be the last team to win the last Beanpot in the old Boston Garden."
The opponent in the first round was Northeastern, a team the Terriers had defeated three straight times in the tournament after going through a stretch in the 1980s of losing decisions to the Huskies on Garden ice four out of six years. BU improved its season record against NU to 3-0 after posting a 6-2 win. Six different goal scorers led the way as the Terriers put 42 shots on net, chasing Reynolds after he had made 23 saves. He gave way to Veisor, who had to make 13 saves with the game already in BU's control. Joubert and Brennan each collected three assists and Herlofsky turned aside 27 shots.
In the matchup before the scheduled Beanpot final against BC, the Terriers ventured into the Tully Forum for the third and final meeting with Bruce Crowder's River Hawks. The first two games of the season series, played back in November, had resulted in 30 total goals being scored in a win and a tie for BU. The red light would get plenty of work in this game as well, but with the Terriers putting up a touchdown on the scoreboard in the second period, they went on to outlast UMass-Lowell 9-6. Each team was sent to the penalty box 16 times and BU cashed in with four power-play goals while the River Hawks failed to score in their seven power-play attempts. Thornton hit for his third career hat trick, Joubert added a pair of goals, O'Sullivan and Grier dished out three assists and Noble stopped 28 shots.
While the Terriers were winning at Lowell, BC had a four-game winning streak halted at home with a 4-3 setback against UNH. The Eagles had lost seven consecutive Beanpot games to the Terriers, but they still held out hope that this would be the year for the streak to end. It would be the 12th Beanpot final between the Comm. Ave adversaries, with the Terriers holding a 6-5 edge in the previous 11 games.
"If we play really well, we can beat anybody," said BC's Buckley in the Globe. "Growing up, you dream of playing for BC or playing for BU. I don't think there are too many people in between. The rivalry is a great thing. It's why you play college hockey. Especially in the Beanpot. I'm excited to be involved in it."
After the first 20 minutes in front of 14,448 fans who filled the Garden, BU held a 1-0 lead, thanks to a great individual effort by the walk-on forward from Connecticut. With BC on the power play, Rausch split two defenders and gained control of the puck. He went in on a solo rush and pushed the puck past Taylor.
"The puck was free and I just poked it free," Rausch told the Globe. "I saw nothing but ice in front of me, and I just got my legs going and put it home."
The other highlight of the opening period was when Grier caught BC defenseman Greg Callahan with a thunderous check in his own zone, steamrolling him onto his back and eliciting a loud roar from the BU faithful in the balcony.
Harking back to BU squads of the 1970s, the Terriers took control of the game in the second period with three goals in a span of less than four minutes. Lachance circled the net and fed Prendergast, who was bearing down on the goal, and his low wrister beat Taylor. A mere 18 seconds later Drury hit Rausch with a pass on the wing. Rausch's first shot was denied by Taylor, but he put the rebound between the pads for his second score of the night, a play that would help him earn MVP honors and one that gave BU a 3-0 edge. The Eagles' hole got that much deeper when Grier finished off the run by tipping O'Sullivan's shot in top shelf at the 8:33 mark.
BC finally scored when Tim Lewis beat Herlofsky with under three minutes left in the second period, but that goal was offset by Wright in the third when he took a feed from Joubert and beat Taylor, leaping past the fallen BC goalie in celebration. That put the finishing touches on BU's 18th Beanpot title, with the Terriers outshooting the Eagles 42-25. Lachance and Coleman each contributed a pair of assists and Herlofsky made saves on 24 of 25 BC shots, giving him a .944 save percentage for the tournament and the Eberly Award as the Outstanding Goalie.
"We felt if we played our game we were going to win," Joubert mentioned in the Globe. "We had success against them earlier in the year. It was nice to see all those great BU fans looking down on you.
"We don't want to get overly psyched about this. It's [Beanpot] a nice thing, but we're going to have to put it in the back of our minds. The Beanpot's an emotional thing. The whole city wants to know who won the Beanpot.
"We have to realize this isn't the end of the season. We've still got some regular season games and the playoffs. The Beanpot's not just something to hang our hats on."
Although it was a successful night for BU, it was not without its down side as the hard-luck Pandolfo would be sidelined indefinitely with yet another injury. He was forced to leave the game when he suffered a deep cut on his left hand, after he lost his glove trying to push the puck and had a BC player’s skate make contact with the hand. It opened a wound on Pandolfo's hand that took more than 35 stitches to patch together and requiring surgery to repair damage to tendons that had been sliced. The injury would sideline him deep into March, taking a valuable forward out of Parker's lineup.
Fresh off the satisfying Beanpot victory, the Terriers took a short trip down to Providence for a meeting at Schneider Arena against the sub-.500 Friars. Whatever momentum BU had created at the Garden a few days earlier quickly dissipated over the first 20 minutes, as PC jumped to out to a 3-0 lead, with the last goal coming from Chad Quenneville, who went on to register a hat trick. After two periods it was 4-1 and the Friars added four more goals in the third to complete the 8-1 rout, aided by goaltender Bob Bell's 35 saves.
"Am I surprised? I'm stunned," shocked Providence coach Paul Pooley told the Globe. "All I wanted to do was have a chance to be in the game entering the third period. It was a case of us playing a great game and catching BU flat. Everything went our way."
Parker was disgusted with the outcome.
"I've had plenty of teams that won Beanpots and never played this badly afterward," he noted in the Globe. "I've had teams that lost emotional Beanpot championships and played better than this the next game. It was terrible, a non-competitive performance."
The captain was also left flustered by the loss.
"It was a game we thought we were going to win just by showing up, and Jack made us aware that's not how a good team wins," Joubert stated on Inside BU Hockey. "You can't just put the jersey on and expect to win. Providence that night was gunning for us, and they stuck it to us, and that was a wake-up call for the team and we all learned our lesson that night."
A rebound wouldn't be long in waiting for the Terriers as they turned things around the next night at Walter Brown Arena and doubled up the Friars 6-3. With the game knotted 2-2 in the second period, Thornton took a pass from Grier and lifted a shot over Bell (37 saves) for the lead.Then, it was Grier's turn, as he scored a shorthanded goal, his 25th score of the season, on a rebound of a Thornton shot. Grier's power-play strike, off a nice feed from O'Sullivan, gave BU a 5-2 lead a little over three minutes into the third period. A tip-in by Quenneville past Noble (21 saves) kept PC close before O'Sullivan found the back of the net on the power play to close out the scoring.
Three games remained in the regular season and two would come in a home-and-home series with Merrimack, which had turned its season around after a slow start. The Warriors had broken a 19-game losing streak at Walter Brown Arena in January and were playing good hockey for coach Ron Anderson, a former Terrier player who had been an important contributor on BU's back-to-back NCAA champions in the early 1970s.
On Friday night at the Volpe Complex, the teams headed to the third period tied at 1-1. Just past the 10:00 mark, Joubert put BU ahead by converting a pass from Lachance. Two other scores by Grier and Joubert helped the Terriers eventually pull away in a game that had been interrupted by a brawl at the end of the second period when Rob Beck shot the puck over Herlofsky's glove after time had expired. The goal was disallowed after the officials had broken up the fights between the Terriers and Warriors, and four game misconducts were issued: two to Merrimack (Kornforth and Johnson) and two to BU (Pierce and Wright).
In the rematch the following night in Boston, the confident Warriors surged ahead 3-1 early in the third period when defenseman Eric Weichselbaumer's shot from the point found its way past traffic and by Noble (27 saves) into the net. BU cut the deficit to one when the do-it-all Thornton picked up the puck on the penalty kill in his own end and rushed down the ice, beating a defenseman by pushing the puck between his skates and sending a pass over to Grier, who tipped it past MC goalie Eric Thibeault (37 stops). Just under 10 minutes later Thornton struck again on the power play by lifting a shot over Thibeault's shoulder to tie the game and raise the volume in WBA to a fever pitch. The Terriers iced the game with some strong efforts from underclassmen. Drury hit Sylvia in stride with a sharp pass and Sylvia beat Thibeault for the go-ahead goal. Bates later intercepted a clearing pass and lit the lamp for the 5-3 final.
It was Thornton's efforts on special teams that turned the complexion of the game completely around and in BU's favor.
The description of Thornton's game and his value to the team was accurately described in print by the Globe's Joe Concannon. "He is the prototype BU player, the relatively unknown soldier who can skate with anybody, dig pucks out of the corners, play defense with the best of them and rise to the occasion in big games. He is a player who ignites the embers and fans the flames of excellence."
After being hammered by Providence, Thornton knew it was time for BU to get back to its winning ways.
"We came back and beat them [PC]. We stuck to it," he told the Globe. "It was the same against Merrimack. We were down 3-1 after hitting two pipes. We had the courage to come back. That's what it takes to win championships. You have to hate to lose. I believe with the skill and talent we have in that dressing room, we should be able to dictate whether or not we win. It's in our hands."
The final tune-up before the start of the postseason was a home match against Boston College, a team that BU had outscored 17-6 in three previous victories. The fourth meeting at Walter Brown Arena would not be any kinder to the Eagles, as the Terriers struck for five goals in the first 20 minutes. Powered by a hat trick from Prendergast and five assists from Lachance (including a team-record four in the first period), the Terriers ran BC out of the building by a 10-3 score, logging their 13th consecutive victory in the series and reaching double figures in goals against the Eagles for the first time since February of 1978 at McHugh Forum.
The first-period goals, which all but put the game out of reach, were scored off the sticks of Coleman, Prendergast, Joubert, Prendergast again and Bates. BU owned a 45-22 shot margin for the game and scored five power-play goals while holding BC to no goals on six man-advantage situations.
York was left impressed by the BU effort.
"The first period dictated the way the game would go," he told the Globe. "But I have to tell you, BU is a very skilled team and they handle the puck as well as anyone. This could be his [Parker] best team."
Wrapping up the regular season with a 25-6-3 record (16-5-3 Hockey East), BU still had a long road to travel to complete everything it had set out to do, and Parker didn't want to compare the achievements of his current team with any of his past squads just yet.
"Let's wait until the end of the season to judge. Our 1975-76 team was pretty good," he noted in the Globe. "I'm proud of our seniors and we accomplished some regular-season goals. We're Hockey East co-champs and we won a lot of games, which will help us in the playoffs and as far as the nationals are concerned."
BU and Maine each finished with 88 points in the Hockey East standings (which counted wins for five points, two for a tie and one extra point for a shootout win) as the Terriers went 16-5-3 with two shootout wins and the Black Bears 15-3-6 with one shootout victory. Maine was given the top seed for the league tournament by virtue of its one victory over BU in the three league games played.
In the single-elimination quarterfinal round, the second-seeded Terriers played host to seventh-seeded Merrimack (14-17-5), which had beaten BU at WBA in January (the only team to do so during the season) and held a third-period lead before ultimately falling in the most recent game.
The Terriers threw 18 shots on net in the first period, with two resulting in scores. Joubert banked a shot in from the corner off Warriors goalie Martin Legault, and after the visitors tied the game on a score from Ryan Mailhiot, Joubert struck again, finishing off a pass from Prendergast with a quick shot into the net. Just 18 seconds into the second period Joubert, who entered the game with 15 career two-goal games, picked up his first career hat trick on a backhander to make it 3-1, as he scored his 15th goal in the last 14 games. Bates then pushed the BU lead to three goals at 4:19 when he scored on a rebound of a shot by Lachance while on the penalty kill.
But like they had done in the regular-season matchups, the Warriors worked hard to keep things close, and after Daryl Krauss scored two straight goals, with the second one coning less than two minutes into the third period, it was a 4-3 game. That last goal, however, was the only one of the 10 shots by the Warriors in the final period that got by Herlofsky (21 stops), as BU punched its ticket to the last college hockey tournament games to be held at Boston Garden (Harvard and Yale played the first game on Causeway Street 65 years earlier), a semifinal round meeting against No. 5 seed UMass-Lowell (17-17-4), which had knocked off fourth-seeded Northeastern 5-2 at Matthews Arena. The Terriers went 2-0-1 against the River Hawks during the season, but had only outscored them 25-20 in those games.
The semifinal doubleheader at the Garden had BU playing in the nightcap, but before the Terriers even took the ice, a stunning turn of events in the first semifinal had taken place. No. 6 seed Providence, which had taken out third-seeded UNH in overtime in the quarterfinals, followed that up with a shocking 7-3 rout of top-seeded Maine in the semifinals, moving the sub-.500 Friars a step closer to an NCAA berth and removing a large obstacle in BU's path to a Hockey East title repeat.
Against the River Hawks, BU got the start it hoped for when the red-hot Joubert put the rebound of a Coleman shot between the legs of goalie Craig Lindsay a mere 24 seconds after the opening faceoff. Each team followed with some genuine opportunities, but both goalies were up to the task. Noble made a sharp glove save on a bid from defenseman Aaron Kriss and also denied Daw and Shannon Basaraba on solid scoring chances. Late in the period the River Hawks got the equalizer when Kriss put a backhander on net that Noble stopped before Neil Donovan poked the rebound into the goal.
Late into the second period the game remained tied before Paul Botto lifted a shot over Noble's shoulder from the slot at 17:16. The response from BU didn't take long as Linna hit Bates with a pass that sprung him into the UMass-Lowell zone. Bates zipped down the right wing and blasted a shot past Lindsay to even the score at 18:47, with the River Hawks having held the Terriers to just 19 shots on goal through two periods while taking 25 of their own.
BU made a solid stand in the third period by outshooting the River Hawks 16-8 and Bates struck once again to give his team a lead it wouldn't relinquish. With Kriss draped all over him on right wing, he tipped a pass from Lachance inside the near post to make it a 3-2 game. At 7:52 Drury gave the Terriers a two-goal lead when he took a crisp pass from Rausch in the slot and beat Lindsay to the stick side. That would close out the scoring and earn BU a spot in the championship game to face the upstart Friars, looking to topple their third straight higher-seeded opponent. Noble and Lindsay finished the game with 31 saves each, and although the Terriers outshot the River Hawks 35-33, they were unable to score on six power-play chances. It was also the second straight game the top line of O'Sullivan-Thornton-Grier had been held off the score sheet, the first time that happened all season. But with the four goals, this BU squad became just the fourth in school history to surpass 200 in a season, joining the 1970-71, 1974-75 and 1990-91 teams in that category.
Since being humbled by Providence on February 17 at Schneider Arena, the Terriers had put together a six-game winning streak, but here again were the Friars, standing between BU and a fourth Hockey East title. The teams traded goals in the opening 20 minutes with the Friars striking first as Quenneville shot home a pass from George Breen at the right side of the cage. BU knotted the score when Grier rushed toward the PC goal and put a shot on net, only to have Bell make the save. Rausch hopped on the rebound and shot it into the far corner of the net.
Less than five minutes into the second period Grier broke for the net after O'Sullivan fired off a shot from the slot. He collected the rebound and backhanded it past Bell, all while being pushed to the ice by Providence defenseman Hal Gill. PC's Brady Kramer, whose hat trick helped slay the Black Bears on Friday night, then finished off a 4-on-3 break by wristing a shot through a screen past Herlofsky to make it 2-2 at the 9:40 mark.
The Terriers recaptured the lead for good a little over three minutes later when Drury, at the right boards, sent a pass over to Wright, who broke free and lifted a shot over the top of Bell's glove and into the right corner of the cage. Wright had closed out the scoring in February's Beanpot and he also scored the final college goal on Garden ice in the Hockey East championship game. Herlofsky (24 saves) kept the Friars off the board over the last 27:08 to help BU secure the last Lamoriello Cup awarded in the Garden, but he was bested by Bell, who won tournament MVP honors after beating Maine and saving 40 BU shots. News on the injury front for BU was not good as Prendergast suffered a separated shoulder in the second period and did not return, with his availability for the NCAAs a question mark.
"It's a nice feeling and it'll be something to look back on a few years down the line," Joubert commented in the Globe. "It was a championship on the line and we came through. That's the big thing.
"I'm happy that BU won the last Beanpot and won the last college hockey game [at the Garden] because BU has won an awful lot of games in the Garden over a long period of time."
In fact, since a 3-1 win over MIT during the 1928-29 season, the Terriers compiled a 99-62-2 record at the Garden in 163 games, including winning one NCAA championship, 18 Beanpot crowns, five ECAC titles and three Hockey East championships.
Though it was only a one-goal victory over the Friars, the way that the Terriers controlled the play for the most part is what pleased the BU coach.
"That game [PC] typified what we were doing in the last six or seven games," Parker said. "We got out and played well, we were on top of the team we were playing and then we were able to control the outcome, although not dominate on the scoreboard. I think that solidified our feeling amongst ourselves that we have a little more control of our destiny than we think we have."
As owners of a 28-6-3 record and freshly-minted Hockey East champions, BU earned the top seed in the East in the NCAA tournament, followed by No. 2 Maine (30-5-6) and No. 3 New Hampshire (22-9-4). All would participate in the six-team field at the Worcester Centrum, with the Terriers and Black Bears earning first round byes. Maine would await the winner of the game between UNH and sixth-seeded Denver while the Terriers would face the winner of the No. 4 seed and regular-season ECAC champion Clarkson (23-9-4) and fifth-seeded and CCHA champion Lake Superior State (22-11-6). Yes, the Lakers were back once again, and with a win over the Golden Knights, they would collide with BU with a Final Four berth in Providence on the line.
"Everybody's watching what's happening with Lake State as far as how well they're playing down the stretch," Parker said. "And now all of a sudden, the NCAA puts the brackets in, and lo and behold they're in our bracket, and lo and behold we're playing them if they win.
"So the frame of mind I had was you've got to be happy with this [bracket] because if you can't beat Lake State you don't deserve to be national champions."
The Lakers had actually started the season slowly and were under .500 when Christmas rolled around. Once January arrived, they took off and won 15 of 17 games prior to the meeting with Clarkson. Lake State did not have an easy time with the Golden Knights on Friday night, but they emerged with a 5-4 victory and would now get a rested BU team less than 24 hours later.
The 11 seniors and juniors on the BU roster were fired up about getting another shot at the school that had ended their season the previous two years, and the team certainly had an extra jump in their step as the game began with a good turnout of BU fans on hand. After missing eight games with his hand injury, Pandolfo was back in the lineup, giving the offense an upgrade, and he would play meaningful minutes against the Lakers. The Terriers got the important first goal at 12:20 of the opening period when Wright passed the puck to Drury in the Lake State zone. Drury moved from right to left across the slot and snapped a wrister past goalie John Grahame. That's the way the score remained through 20 minutes as Noble saved all eight Laker shots.
Defense was the name of the game for the Terriers in the second period as they limited the Lakers to just four shots on Noble while doubling the lead when Linna connected on a slapper from the left point.
With the Terriers continuing to play the body and keeping a tight grip on the defensive end, the tiring Lakers soon saw the deficit grow to three goals early in the third period when Bates moved around Grahame and put a backhander into the left side of the cage. BU took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play when Brennan ripped a shot past Grahame to make it 4-0, but the Lakers found once last gasp of energy and cut the Terriers' lead in half when Keith Aldridge notched his second goal of the game, a shorthander, at 17:29.
Just 18 seconds later Linna put the Lakers away for good as he shot a backhander by Grahame on a rush, who was retreating back into his net. Inside the final minute Linna put the wraps on his first career hat trick when he sent a shot from behind the BU cage into the empty net for a 6-2 final as the Lakers' reign as NCAA champions expired. Noble kept the Lakers in check with 19 saves and Grahame finished with 26.
"We needed this. We came into the game focused and we did what we had to do," Thornton, who had a pair of assists, told the Globe. "We played team hockey. We were embarrassed [by Lake State] last year and this more than makes up for that. We proved a major point to ourselves and the fans."
Lake State coach Jeff Jackson and his squad had finally met their match after two dominating postseason wins over the Terriers.
"BU played strong on defense (limiting LSSU to 21 shots) and it was deep on offense," Jackson noted in the Globe. "They also played a more physical game than we did, and that could be because of the fatigue factor.
"I think their goalie did a terrific job. He made the saves he had to make, and when you run into a hot goalie, it makes it doubly difficult."
It was anything but difficult for Parker to witness.
"That [victory over Lake State] was one of the finest moments I've had on the BU bench," he said. "Both physically and emotionally, that was as thorough a performance that I've seen from a BU team."
Having finally overcome their tormentors from upper Michigan in a critical playoff game, or as Parker put it, having gotten "rid of the ghosts in our closet" the Terriers were bound for the Providence Civic Center and the Final Four, the same building where BU had won its last national title in 1978 with a 5-3 triumph over BC.
Joining the Terriers in Providence were Maine (which defeated Denver 4-2 in the other East Regional quarterfinal), No. 1 West seed Michigan (with the 30-7-1 Wolverines a 4-3 winner over Wisconsin in the West Regional quarterfinal) and No. 3 West seed Minnesota (with the 25-13-5 Gophers having shut out RPI 3-0 in the West Regional first round and then defeating Colorado College 5-2 in the quarterfinal).
The Thursday afternoon semifinal featured a Black Bears-Wolverines matchup (Maine had defeated Michigan 4-3 in OT in the '93 semifinals in Milwaukee) while the Terriers and Gophers, who had previously met on New Year's Eve in the Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis, and before that had collided in the '94 NCAA semifinals in St. Paul, were set to meet in the nightcap.
Herlofsky, the Minnesota native, would once again be between the pipes against the Gophers, the same place he had been in the 4-3 OT win on Dec. 31. And for the first time since January, the Terriers would have a complete lineup, with Prendergast returning from his shoulder injury and suiting up.
"I don't think we realized what we wanted to do [in the '94 final against Lake State]. We were satisfied just getting into the final game," Herlofsky related in the Globe. "This year we know what it takes to win it all. We have to be pushed to work hard for the full 60 minutes and not be happy just to be there."
Parker was happy to have his whole lineup intact for the semifinal test.
"This year's team is a lot more offensively skilled than the last two years," he told the Globe. "This team has a lot more confidence it can put the puck in the net. We have more balance in scoring and we have offensive skill up and down the lineup."
Despite that balance and skill, BU's play in the first period was not what Parker was hoping for, and when Mike Crowley scored on a power play for the Gophers at 12:47 for a 1-0 lead, it was only the 11th time in 39 games that the Terriers surrendered the first goal of the game. The Gophers were successfully playing a tight checking game that took away center ice and it was paying off. At one point in the period BU went almost eight minutes without a shot on goal. Joubert finally evened the score on the power play with under four minutes to go in the period when he gathered in a rebound off a Linna shot from the point and lifted the puck into the net over Callinan.
Less than a minute after Joubert's goal Minnesota regained the lead when Bobby Dustin knocked the puck away from Wood and Jesse Bertogliate gained possession and hit the back of the net. Undaunted, Wood helped tie the game once again for BU when he rifled a high shot from just below the blue line into the top right corner with only nine ticks left on the clock.
Wright gave the Terriers their first lead of the game at 2:31 of the second period when he chipped a puck up and over Callinan into the top of the net, but the Gophers answered back on a goal by Dan Hendrickson and after two periods the game was knotted at 3-3. BU, which had been outshot at that point 27-19, was clearly not playing up to its capabilities. The Terriers had one last intermission to wake up and preserve their season.
"Coach Parker started it in the locker room with some choice words," Joubert recalled in Drop The Puck. "I kept it up when we gathered around the net. I told the guys 'You are my friends, but if we lose playing crappy like this, I'll be ticked off at you forever.' "
The message from coach and captain was clearly received and, just 20 seconds into the third period, BU went ahead when Lachance tipped a shot by Coleman past Callinan. O'Sullivan then made it a 5-3 game with some excellent marksmanship, as he took a pass from Drury and, skating down the left wing, shot the puck at the net roughly an inch off the ice. Callinan, guarding the left post, reached for the puck with his glove, but it whizzed by and settled inside the far post for a goal at the 6:50 mark. That tilted the momentum of the game in BU's favor, as it held the Gophers to just six shots on net for the period. Bates later picked up the puck off a forecheck and broke in alone on Callinan for an unassisted goal at 15:07. An empty-netter by Sylvia with just 2:30 left to play concluded the win for the Terriers. Although he was kept off the scoresheet Grier made his presence known, knocking several Gophers off their skates with his patented big hits. Herlofsky turned aside 30 shots to help beat his home state U for the second time in three months and earn his 50th career win. Callinan, bested by the Terriers for the third consecutive time, made 24 saves.
"I don't think we were focused for that [Minnesota] game. Of the three NCAA games we were very much not in control of the Minnesota game," remembered Parker. "Minnesota outplayed us for the first two periods and we were fortunate that the third period started tied. If you go by territorial advantage and good opportunities and playing up to one's capabilities, Minnesota should've won that game."
For losing coach Doug Woog, it was a matter of his team being done in by one bad period.
"When we were in it right at the start of the third period it was looking promising," he told Drop The Puck. "Then we gave up a goal right off the bat, and they're a big, strong team and they took it from there."
BU would be playing for the national championship for the second straight year and this Terrier squad, with its nine-game winning streak, had become just the third in school history to reach 30 wins, joining the 1977-78 (30) and 1993-94 (34) teams.
The opposition in the season finale would be a fierce and familiar one in Maine, making it the first all-East NCAA championship game in 10 years, since RPI topped Providence in Detroit. It would also be the first-ever meeting between the two schools in the NCAA tournament. The Black Bears had earned their spot in the title match by outlasting Michigan 4-3 in a grueling three-overtime game, with Shermerhorn scoring the deciding goal following a faceoff. It would be the fifth meeting of the season between the teams, on the sport's biggest stage, and. with the game being contested in a Hockey East town, the respective bands of each school and both fan bases would add plenty of energy and emotion to the atmosphere.
"The fans and both clubs and college hockey fans themselves were really jacked up, and the building was electric, no question about that," remembered Parker.
The first four games between BU and Maine had been entertaining and tightly-played contests, with the margin of difference razor thin. Back in October there was the 3-3 overtime standoff at Walter Brown Arena. Then there was the 6-5 Maine victory in overtime out in Los Angeles over Thanksgiving. The final two meetings, up in Orono in early December, resulted in a 6-5 Maine victory and a 5-5 overtime tie. Both the Terriers and Black Bears had offensive skill and depth, quality goaltending and dependable defenses. The outcome to be decided on the Civic Center ice was if Maine could capture its second national title in three years, or if BU could add an NCAA Champions banner to the school's collection of three for the first time in 17 years.
"We've won the Beanpot and Hockey East championships and those were both great times and it was great to be with teammates and hoist those trophies up," Joubert said in an ESPN interview, "but this one [NCAA] would mean so much more for everyone I can only imagine how spectacular it would be."
Said Maine goalkeeper Allison on ESPN: "We have a great rivalry with BU and we've had some great games this season. We've both played tremendously well in our games and I look forward to a real good game."
Maine had the better of the play at the outset and of the game's first 11 shots on goal, eight were directed at Noble, who was strong between the pipes at the outset. He made a save on Jamie Thompson, denied Trevor Roenick on a tip-in, and on back-to-back Maine power plays got a pad on a Shermerhorn shot and also stopped two scoring bids by Tory. BU's best chance during that stretch was a shot from in front by Wright that Allison turned away.
The game's first goal would be produced on the power play after Maine's Brad Mahoney was whistled for roughing. Thornton won a faceoff from Purdie in the Black Bears' zone, pushed the puck ahead and then flicked a quick shot that beat the surprised Allison over his glove to the short side at 14:57. Considering that BU won 24 of 29 games when scoring first, it was a good start to the afternoon.
"After the puck was dropped I saw it and went for the net," Thornton noted in the Globe. "I got it and put it high on the goalie's right. It sure felt good."
Another Maine penalty late in the period led to more scoring opportunities for the Terriers, but Allison made stops on Brennan with the stick, Lachance with the glove and on Thornton off a scramble in front. With both teams skating down a man the Black Bears came within six inches or so of tying the game when Wayne Conlan unleashed a hard shot on goal from the right wing. The pucked squeezed between Noble's pads and slid toward the goal line before the alert Lachance cleared it out of harm's way.
BU's one-goal advantage stood up through the end of the first period and into the second. After killing off another Maine penalty (and holding the Black Bears without a shot on net during the man advantage) the Terriers upped their lead to 2-0 at the 7:27 mark. Grier took a shot from the left circle that was saved by Allison, and when Thornton tried to get the rebound, he had the puck knocked off his stick by Allison, where it traveled to the right side of the net. While all that was happening, Jason Mansoff and Purdie collided to the left of the net, creating some room on the right side, where O'Sullivan was lurking. O'Sullivan lifted the loose puck past Tory and Purdie, who were protecting the crease, into the far side of the net.
Maine had overcome a 2-0 deficit against Michigan in the semifinals, but after Shermerhorn was called for interference, the Black Bears' deficit would grow ever larger less than two minutes after O'Sullivan's tally. Prendergast circled the net and sent a pass out front that was knocked aside. Linna retrieved the puck in the left circle and sent a nifty pass across the ice to Joubert, stationed just below the right circle. Allison made a stick save on Joubert's first shot from in close, but the rebound went right back to the Terrier captain, who then patiently moved left with the puck and lifted it over Allison's blocker into the net for a 3-0 lead.
Despite being up by three goals, the Terriers continued to play tight defense, and that defense was so effective that Maine's first shot on Noble, by Tony Frenette, came after 12:57 of the second period had elapsed. But Maine kept plugging away and finally broke through at the 14:51 mark when Frenette skated down left wing on a 2-on-1 break and sent a pass across to Lovell, who had broken free in the slot. Lovell took the pass and fired a shot by Noble into the right side of the net to give his tired team a lift. Back-to-back penalties on BU's Johnson and Linna in the closing stages of the period gave the Black Bears even more energy, but the second period ended with the score still 3-1.
The 5-on-3 advantage that the Black Bears started the third period with expired after 20 seconds, but not before Noble made a sliding pad stop on Shermerhorn. However, with Linna still in the box, Roenick put in a rebound of a hard Jacque Rodrigue shot that Noble had initially saved. Suddenly it was a one-goal game just 31 seconds into the final period and the Maine bench and fans were yelling their approval.
The Terriers' swift defense-to-offense transition resulted in a critical play just past the five-minute mark when Pandolfo picked off a pass by Conlan in the BU zone. Pandolfo then quickly moved the puck over to Bates on the left side at the blue line. Bates motored down the ice on left wing, and when he faked an inside move and Tory tried to contain the play with his stick, he broke outside and blew right past the frozen Tory and toward the goal. Spotting Sylvia breaking for the net, Bates sent a backhand pass under the sliding Mansoff and onto Sylvia's tape, where he whipped it into the twine past the lunging Allison, allowing BU to regain momentum with a 4-2 lead.
"That [Sylvia's goal] was just a killer," Walsh said in the Globe of the turnover and goal. "Good teams do that. That's the way it happens. We made a major turnover, the kind you talk about all year, and bang. It was like someone put a stake right through our heart."
If the rush by Bates and goal by Sylvia staggered the Black Bears, it was a great individual effort by O'Sullivan on the power play that more or less finished them off. Brennan fired a shot on net that Allison saved, but he couldn't gain control of the puck. Imes, a former U.S. Olympian and All-American, tried to clear the puck away from the goal area but O'Sullivan swooped in and in one continuous motion took the puck away from Imes and swatted into the net for a 5-2 BU lead with 11:30 left in the game.
There were three more penalties called on the Terriers down the stretch, but Noble held steady in the net, stopping Wansborough and Rodrigue on scoring chances, getting help from the post on a shot by Lovell and having Purdie called for a crease violation with the puck bouncing loose in the slot.
With BU on its final penalty kill of the game inside the two-minute mark, Thornton, in one of his typically alert plays, intercepted a pass inside the Maine zone and dished to an open Lachance at the left side of the crease. Lachance banged it home for the final goal of the game and his first since the Beanpot. The shorthander was the final play over 60 minutes of hard effort that helped this edition of the Terriers stand beside BU's 1971-72 team (and later on the 2008-09 squad), as they pulled off the Triple Crown feat of winning the Beanpot, League and NCAA championships, ending a 17-year drought in pursuit of that last, elusive title.
The Terriers outshot Maine 39-23, as Allison made 33 saves and the freshman Noble 21. The special teams battle proved crucial as BU's penalty killers, both forwards and defensemen, snuffed out seven of eight Maine power plays while BU converted on three of its four power plays. O'Sullivan, with his three goals in the Final Four, was named the Most Outstanding Player.
"They jumped us on their penalty killing and we couldn't get out of our zone," Lovell said in the Globe. "They did a great job and that frustrates the power-play guys. You're out there to put the puck in the net and they're breathing down your neck on your breakout. Once you don't have a set breakout play you tend to panic. I think we did a little."
BU showed marked defensive improvement from the beginning of the season until the end, and during their season-closing 10-game winning streak, the Terriers surrendered only 24 goals, including just 14 in six postseason victories.
"What I'll remember most about this team is that it changed its style," Parker said in The Boston Herald. "In the beginning of the year we were too offensive-minded and it was a mess. Then we began to play with a lot more grit and a lot less finesse."
For all of the BU players who had endured crushing NCAA losses to Lake State in '93 and '94, there would be no more questions left to answer.
"The worst part about last year was the summer and all the people asking 'What happened?' It was very embarrassing," Thornton related in Drop The Puck. "Now I don't have to deal with questions. I can just show them the ring."
After the tension and pressure of playing in a national championship game had faded, and after the NCAA trophy had been awarded – and Brennan and Herlofsky had given Parker an ice bath – marking the end of the 31-6-3 Terriers' year-long journey to redemption, all that remained was the triumphant trip back to Babcock Street. It was a ride that left a lasting impression on the victorious coach.
"I just remember catching the eyes of the seniors and feeling so good for them that 'this was a lot better than last year boys, wasn't it?' Parker recalled. "The memory I have most of the situation was the bus ride home from Providence. The game is the game and you're always involved in that, but when all was said and done and the hoopla was over with, and it was just the team and only the team on the bus ride home, that was probably the most enjoyable 45 minutes I had spent in a long, long time."
Despite taking a more defensive posture for success over the last half of the season, this BU team certainly proved it could still put the puck in the net, outscoring its opponents 224-117, including 78-42 in the third period. It was also a team that doubled up the opposition on the power play, scoring on 64 of its 250 attempts while holding its opponents to 32 goals in 195 attempts. (Final player stats)
"We had a very well-balanced attack," Parker noted. "We had had a nice mixture of physical and skilled players. Everyone contributed but no one could have anticipated the emergence of Chris O'Sullivan and Mike Grier."
O'Sullivan's move from defense to left wing on the first line (which produced totals of 69 goals and 152 assists) turned out to be a boon for the team's offense as he led the way in scoring with 56 points, combining a team-high 33 assists with 23 goals. O'Sullivan, who overcame the adversity of losing both his parents to cancer while in high school, joined Joubert and Coleman as the only three players on the squad to play in all 40 games. His impressive output earned him All-American Second Team honors, as well as a spot on the All-Hockey East Second Team, to go with his Most Outstanding Player selection in the NCAA tournament and MVP selection at the Mariucci Classic. O'Sullivan, who left BU after his junior season to play in the NHL, finished his Terrier career with 128 points (40 goals, 88 assists). In the NHL O'Sullivan played 49 games with Calgary, Vancouver and Anaheim.
"I didn't have much choice," O'Sullivan told the Globe about his move from defense to forward. "It wasn't up for discussion. I was a little nervous at first. I didn't know what type of transition it would be. But he [Parker] put me with Mike [Grier] and Steve [Thornton] right away and we stayed as a line, except for one period, the whole year."
Added Parker: "He [O'Sullivan] made the transition much easier than anyone thought. Through his skill and confidence he became a premier offensive threat and led us in scoring."
Grier also made a significant leap in performance, going from 18 points his freshman year to 55 (29 goals, 26 assists) as a sophomore, combining his physical game with a soft touch around the net. Grier earned All-American First Team recognition, was a Hobey Baker finalist, was named All-Hockey East First Team and won the Walter Brown Award as the top American-born college player in New England. He, too, left BU for the pros after his junior year, collecting 118 career points, split evenly with 59 goals and 59 assists. In the NHL Grier played 448 games with Edmonton, Washington, Buffalo and San Jose, scoring 183 points (81 goals, 102 assists).
"Grier carried us on his shoulders a long time," Parker said. "He did a lot of big things for us and there was no way we could have predicted that would happen."
Then there was the captain in Joubert. He had a long trip in his hockey career before ever arriving at BU. It started with three years of high school hockey in Indiana, one year of prep hockey at Canterbury in Connecticut, and then one unfulfilling semester of hockey at Old Nassau before realizing he had made the wrong choice. So he left Princeton after less than 20 games and wrote letters to a few schools, BU being one of them, to see if he would be a good fit in any other programs.
"I knew that I was better than a third or fourth line forward, but the coaches at Princeton wanted to go with other guys," Joubert told Drop The Puck. "I only played in 13 of 15 games for Princeton and had two goals, so the only thing I had going for me was confidence. BU wasn't exactly excited about me, but they were honest. Coach Parker told me that if I paid my own way and it worked out, great, and if it didn't, there was no loss."
It turned out to be anything but a loss for the Terriers, as Joubert produced 79 points over his first two seasons wearing a BU jersey. Then the guy who had to pay his own way into BU was elected captain as a senior and proceeded to score 29 goals and dish off 23 assists as center of the second line while also providing the team with good doses of leadership and confidence. Joubert was the team leader in game-winning goals (five) and placed second behind Grier (13) with 12 power-play goals. Harking back to his Ivy League roots, he was named BU's Male Student-Athlete of the Year. Never missing a game in a BU uniform he played in 121 consecutive games and had 131 career points (66 goals, 65 assists), and as Parker indicated, he had one of the best second semesters of any Terrier player ever with 32 points over the last 19 games.
"If someone had told me when I left Princeton that I would be at a school that goes to the NCAA Final Four three years in a row and be its captain as a senior, I would've asked them what they were smoking," he added in Drop The Puck.
No player exhibited more character, determination or skill at both ends of the ice than Thornton. His non-stop effort as a first line center, a position he held down steadily during his four seasons, turned into 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists). Those numbers may not have gotten him recognized on any All-Star teams, but the respect he held among coaches, teammates and the program as a whole did not go unnoticed as he won the Walter Brown Award as Team MVP, the McInnis Award for Team Spirit and the Hockey East Sportsmanship Award. He was also named New England's Top Defensive Forward. His superb two-way game produced 143 points (59 goals, 84 assists) in 149 career games.
"He's [Thornton] a great all-around player," linemate O'Sullivan told the Globe. "He's the best defensive forward on our team. He's so valuable to us that way, and offensively he's a great playmaker with great hands. He's quick. He's got quick feet. He can play four-on-four, five-on-five, or kill penalties. I've never played with anybody who's been more consistent. He just brings so much to the team."
Lachance also proved he could score (12 goals, 29 assists) and play effectively on the penalty kill and his consistent game added up to a 140-point career (44 goals, 96 assists). Prendergast gritted his way through postseason shoulder and knee injuries and finished his senior year with a 17-goal, 22-assist output, giving him a 119-point career (59 goals, 60 assists).
Bates (18 goals, 12 assists) was the team's very own Speed Merchant and his swift skates blew past many a defenseman and beat many a defender to loose pucks. His 73-goal, 70-assist BU career in 160 games, tying him in points with teammate Thornton and former Terrier and Olympic standout Dave Silk, helped him transition into the NHL with Boston and the New York Islanders, producing 72 goals and 126 assists in 465 games.
Although he skated on the fourth line Drury gave a hint of the offensive production he would have as a Terrier with 12 goals and 15 assists to lead the freshman class. His burning, competitive desire along with his excellent skills helped him attain All-American First Team and Hockey East Player of the Year status as a junior and senior (he was also an All-American Second Team choice as a sophomore), and he is the only BU player to surpass both 100 career goals and assists, as he finished up third all-time in career points with 214 (113 goals, 101 assists), trailing only John Cullen and David Sacco. Drury also became BU's first Hobey Baker Award winner in 1998. That major impact in college translated into a strong pro career for Drury as he played in 892 games with Colorado, Calgary, Buffalo and the New York Rangers and had 255 goals and 360 assists for 615 points. He won the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year with 20 goals and 24 assists in 1998-99, and in 2001 he became one of six former BU players to win the Stanley Cup after scoring 11 playoff goals for the Avalanche. To cap it all off he was a member of Team USA at the Olympics in 2002 in Salt Lake City, 2006 in Italy and 2010 in Vancouver.
The hard-luck Pandolfo was looking to build on the 34 goals he had scored his first two seasons at BU, but stomach and hand injuries caused him to miss 20 games, as he finished his junior season with seven goals and 13 assists. Pandolfo came back with a vengeance as a senior in 1995-96, scoring 38 goals and adding 29 assists to earn recognition as Hockey East Player of the Year, a spot on the All-American First Team and finishing as the runner-up in the Hobey Baker Award voting to Minnesota's Brian Bonin. Pandolfo's NHL career included stints with New Jersey, the New York Islanders and Boston and added up to 819 games, 223 points (99 goals, 124 assists) and a pair of Stanley Cup rings with the Devils in 2000 and 2003, as he became one of New Jersey's top defensive forwards. Pandolfo and current Director of Hockey Operations Scott Young (with Pittsburgh and Colorado) are BU's only two-time winners of the Stanley Cup.
A quartet of forwards also played important roles for the Terriers, with Rausch scoring a career-best 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists), winning Beanpot MVP honors and being named co-winner of the team's Unsung Hero Award with Linna; Sylvia picking up 10 goals and nine assists as a rookie, including the big goal in the NCAA final against Maine, en route to a 120-point career (54 goals, 66 assists); and Pierce (13 assists) and Wright (seven goals) chipping in as hard-working grinders, with the former serving as captain of the 1996-97 team and the latter the winner of the Most Improved Player award who was also noted for scoring the game-winner in the Hockey East championship game, the final collegiate goal ever scored at Boston Garden.
Brennan, who missed nine games with injuries, and Coleman tied for the team lead in scoring among defensemen with 28 points apiece, with each accounting for five goals and 23 assists. Both were also named to the Hockey East All-Tournament Team. Brennan's point total for the season gave him an even 100 (26 goals, 74 assists) for his career and after BU he had several successful seasons in the AHL with different clubs as well as playing in 50 career NHL games with Colorado, San Jose, the New York Rangers, Los Angeles, Nashville and Boston. Coleman, who collected 114 career points (with 96 assists), was a two-time All-American as a junior and senior, named to the Second Team in 1995-96 and First Team in 1996-97. He was also All-Hockey East First Team both of those seasons.
"The pleasant surprise on defense was Jon Coleman," Parker noted. "The year before, as a freshman, he was out of the lineup for most of the last third of the season. That hurt his confidence, although the coaches were confident he would play for us. He emerged as a real good offensive threat and into one of the top defensemen in the league."
Linna, with a solid showing in the postseason, was close behind in scoring with seven goals and 20 assists, which included the hat trick against Lake State. In what Parker considered a "stalwart" senior season, Linna was tabbed for the All-American Second Team, the All-Hockey East Second Team and was named First Team All-New England. Parker also felt that Kelleher was one of the team's most important freshman contributors and his three goals and 17 assists earned him a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie Team. Also taking regular shifts on the BU defense that finished second in Hockey East behind Maine (84 goals allowed in 24 league games) were Wood (17 points, including a game-tying goal against Minnesota in the NCAA semifinal) and Johnson (six assists). Kealty (five assists) provided valuable depth when injuries struck on the back end.
BU's depth in goal was seriously hampered with the loss of McKersie, a returning All-American, due to his bike accident. That left the Terriers with one veteran in Herlofsky and an untested freshman in Noble, who would get much heavier use in the rotation than originally intended. After having some struggles through the first 13 games, when the team's goals against average was 3.62, Herlofsky and Noble settled in and behind a much better effort from the forwards and defensemen in reducing shots on goal and keeping pucks out of the net, the team GAA by season's end dropped to 2.89. Herlofsky went 16-4-3 with a 2.90 GAA and .875 save percentage, twice defeated Minnesota (at the Mariucci Classic and in the NCAA semifinals, with a total of 54 saves), made 24 saves against Providence in the Hockey East championship game and won the Eberly Trophy as the Outstanding Goalie at the Beanpot, after saving 51 of 54 shots in wins against Northeastern and BC. Noble's rookie campaign was also impressive, as he finished with a 15-2 record, a 2.75 GAA and .890 save percentage. He showed no freshman jitters in the postseason when helping down UMass-Lowell with 31 stops in the Hockey East semifinals, overcoming Lake State with 19 saves in the NCAA quarterfinals and helping pave the way to BU's fourth NCAA title with 21 saves against Maine.
Herlofsky's career mark in goal stood at 50-13-5 while Noble ended up at 55-16-5 in his four years in net. McKersie persevered and courageously returned to the team for the 1995-96 season, but unfortunately, he was never able to regain the strong form he had shown as a junior and was limited to playing in only seven games.
"Derek struggled early but had a great second half once he got his confidence back," Parker said. "One of the keys was the play of Tommy Noble. His progress took some of the pressure off Derek and allowed us to have steady goaltending game-in and game-out.
"When the goaltending and our overall team defense caught up with the rest of the team, there was no question this was going to be a pretty good college hockey team."
And the Terriers were not only deep in goal, but all throughout the lineup.
"Someone might say that BU had only six games where everyone was healthy and they still won the national championship. How did they do that?" Parker added. "Well, we were unbelievably lucky that when one player went down another player got back into the lineup."
After falling short in the NCAA tournament for five straight years, in varying forms of defeat, from the agonizing (3-2 to Colgate in the 1990 semifinals), to the heartbreaking (8-7 in triple overtime to Northern Michigan in the classic 1991 championship game), to the disappointing (4-2 to Michigan State in the 1992 East Regional first round), to the humbling (6-1 to Lake Superior State in the 1993 semifinals), to the humiliating (9-1 to Lake Superior State in the 1994 championship game), the 1994-95 Terriers, with their "One for all, and all for one" approach were not going to be denied a sixth consecutive time.
"Every player on this team had the same goal. We were driven to win the national championship," Herlofsky told the Herald. "If we didn't accomplish the goal, it would not have been a satisfying season for the seniors. Winning the Beanpot and Hockey East wouldn't have meant anything to us if we lost in the nationals.
"The team always came first. We talked about that all the time. We didn't have any superstars but reminded ourselves we'd get recognition if the team won. And that's what we did all season. We had solid defense, big forwards to work the corners, small forwards who could fly. We had every area covered. It was a team, and that's how we wanted it.
"We were under a lot of pressure all year, and it's hard playing under pressure. But we did it and we had fun doing so."
Talent, competition, preparation and execution aligned as a formula for success.
"From a coaching staff perspective, with Mike Eruzione and Blaise McDonald, we were very prepared going out for every game," O'Sullivan said on Inside BU Hockey. "The way we competed with each other in practice Monday through Thursday made things easier for us to compete and go through our game plan in games. It was an exceptionally talented team, but a very disciplined team, and we were all pulling on the rope together to accomplish what we accomplished."