Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The 1985-86 Terriers: BU’s First Hockey East Champions

By mh82

For the Boston University hockey team, there was the troubling probability that history was going to repeat itself. Another season cut short. Another postseason trophy denied. Another NCAA Tournament bid rebuffed.

In the inaugural Hockey East Tournament, held at the Providence Civic Center in March of 1985, the second-seeded Terriers were beaten by host and third-seeded Providence College 5-2 in the semifinal round, thereby ending BU’s season (save for a consolation game against Lowell the following day) and any ambitions the Terriers had of making a second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

BU had secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament the previous year by advancing to the championship game of the 1984 ECAC Tournament (a 5-2 setback against RPI) in its final season in that league before moving over to Hockey East. Playing in the NCAAs for the first time since winning it all in 1978, the Terriers, the No. 2 East seed, suffered a bitter defeat to Jerry York’s Bowling Green Falcons in the two-game total goals series played at Walter Brown Arena. BU looked to be in good shape after winning the opening game 6-3, but then the Terriers were outplayed the next night and dropped a 4-1 decision to even the series. The teams played into overtime for the right to advance to Lake Placid for the Final Four and a 40-foot shot through a screen by defenseman Mike Pikul resulted in a series-clinching goal for Bowling Green. The Falcons, the No. 3 West seed with a lineup that included future NHL players Gino Cavallini, Dave Ellett and Garry Galley, went on to defeat Michigan State 2-1 and Minnesota-Duluth 5-4 in a four-overtime marathon to capture the school’s only NCAA hockey title.

Now, in the semifinal round of the 1986 Hockey East Tournament, second-seeded BU was once again back on the Providence Civic Center ice, and the opponent was once again the fourth-seeded PC Friars. The Friars got a power-play goal from Artie Yeomelakis less than a minute into the third period to take a 2-1 lead, and Coach Mike McShane’s squad was desperately trying to hold onto that one-goal margin and send BU packing for the off-season for the second time in 364 days.

But BU kept the pressure on and took 13 shots in the period on PC netminder Chris Terreri, the same goalie who had stymied the Terriers the year before in the semifinals and the one who helped lead the Friars to the initial Hockey East crown by stopping 65 shots in a double-overtime triumph over Boston College, earning him tournament MVP honors.

The Friars, who had ridden Terreri’s hot goaltending all the way to a spot the ’85 NCAA championship game, where they dropped a 2-1 decision to RPI, had struggled through a sub-.500 campaign but were less than 10 minutes from earning another date with BC in the league championship game. That’s when BU senior forward Brad MacGregor, the son of former NHL player Bruce MacGregor, finally tied the game at 2-2 by pouncing on a loose puck in the crease and putting it into the net at 11:21. Or so it seemed. After conferring shortly after the red light went on, the officials waved off the goal, claiming that the whistle had blown the play dead before MacGregor scored. The score remained 2-1 Friars.

The Terriers were frustrated but undaunted by the no-goal call, and they continued to send pucks in Terreri’s direction. Junior center John Cullen, BU’s leading scorer, finally got the equalizer from in close with 8:21 left in the game. Spurred on by Cullen’s goal, the Terriers maintained the better of the play when sophomore center Jeff Sveen, who had scored BU’s first goal back in the second period on a high shot that caromed off Terreri’s stick, made a decisive play. Sveen skated toward the PC cage and followed up a shot from junior defenseman David Thiesing. He got the puck on his stick and pushed it past Terreri to give BU a 3-2 lead with just 1:06 left in the contest. It was a lead that junior goaltender Terry Taillefer would make stand up with six of his 16 saves coming in the final period.

After having beaten Providence just once in four tries the previous season, BU ran its mark to 4-0 against the Friars in 1985-86 with the clutch semifinal round victory, setting up a Hockey East championship game against Boston College, the first postseason matchup between the Commonwealth Avenue rivals since BU’s 6-4 victory in the 1984 ECAC semifinals at Boston Garden. Playing BC for all the Hockey East marbles was precisely where BU coach Jack Parker had hoped his club would be when it opened the season back on October 26 at Walter Brown Arena against Northeastern.

Not that the opening-night result against the Huskies was exactly encouraging. Playing before a standing-room only crowd of 3,675 fans, the Terriers got out of the gate quickly with a pair of goals from junior forward Ed Lowney and a power play tally from Cullen to take a 3-0 lead. But Northeastern kept getting shots and applying pressure and the Huskies put six of their 36 shots past BU’s junior goalie Bob Deraney to rally for a surprising 6-3 comeback win, marking NU’s first-ever victory on Babcock Street after 12 consecutive losses.

Three nights later BU picked up its first win of the season, 4-3 over Providence at Schneider Arena, with Lowney scoring twice and Cullen and sophomore defenseman David Quinn combining for five assists. Lowney’s game-winner came with less than three minutes left in the game and Taillefer made 26 saves.

A Friday night home date with Maine followed, producing a 4-1 win behind goals from Sveen, sophomore forwards Eric Labrosse and Clark Donatelli and junior defenseman Jay Octeau, and 29 saves from Deraney, but the inconsistent Terriers would not be able to put back-to-back wins together again until early December.

The weekend before Thanksgiving BU played host to Colorado College for a pair of games in the first two of 16 matchups against Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams, as part of Hockey East’s interlocking schedule with the WCHA, with the game results counting in the respective league’s standings. The WCHA-Hockey East interlocking schedule began in 1984-85 and carried through the 1988-89 season, with BU playing each WCHA squad twice during the first two years of the agreement and once a season over the last three years. In 1984-85 the Terriers opened with a sweep of Wisconsin in Madison but were also swept in road series at Colorado College, Northern Michigan and North Dakota, finishing with a 6-8-2 mark against the WCHA.

“The best part of my BU hockey experience was the interlocking schedule with the WCHA. There is no question it hurt us record-wise, and in qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, but the opportunity to play at Wisconsin, North Dakota, Minnesota, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, etc. were some of the best memories I have,” said Tom Ryan, a sophomore defenseman on the 1985-86 team who played in 146 career games for the Terriers. Ryan, who served as a co-captain of BU’s 1987-88 squad with Quinn and was named the team MVP that season, has served as a color analyst alongside play-by-play man Bernie Corbett on the BU hockey radio broadcasts since the 1993-94 season.

“I think it’s unfortunate the [Hockey East] teams today don’t get that same chance,” noted Ryan. “All you have to do is watch a game from North Dakota and see the passion that they have for their team and program. I think that schedule gave the Eastern teams credibility and recruiting opportunities they would not have had if the concept was never established. It also allowed me an opportunity to see parts of the country I never would’ve seen if we didn’t play the WCHA, and to play against great players and future NHL stars.”

Looking to avenge the sweep at the hands of the Tigers in Colorado Springs the previous season, the Terriers picked up three points at WBA, winning 5-0 the first night with freshman center Mike Kelfer scoring twice, freshman forward Scott Young pitching in with a goal and Deraney making 34 saves for the shutout. The second game saw BU and CC skate to a 3-3 overtime draw, with the Terriers throwing 47 shots at Tigers goalie Derek Pizzey. Deraney added 35 saves to give him 69 for the two games. Young finished off a solid weekend with two more goals and Cullen’s tally with just under two minutes left in the third period helped the Terriers earn a point.

BU compiled its first three-game winning streak of the season in December, downing New Hampshire in Durham 4-3 and recording wins at Walter Brown over Providence (4-2) and Wisconsin (7-4). Taillefer was credited with all three wins in goal, making a combined 84 saves. Young had a short-handed goal and sophomore center Scott Sanders netted the game-winner against UNH as the Wildcats incredibly dropped their 12th straight game. Donatelli, a Providence native, had a pair of goals against the Friars and Taillefer’s 39 saves and Cullen’s two goals and two assists helped subdue the Badgers.

The final game of 1985 didn’t turn out as well, however, as Wisconsin, which matched BU’s 38 shots on goal, posted a 6-3 victory to earn the series split. The loss to the Badgers was the start of a stretch of three losses in four games for the Terriers—the only win during that 1-3 slump was a 3-1 road triumph over Denver, the nation’s top-ranked team at the time—and following a 3-1 setback against Minnesota at Mariucci Arena on Jan. 10, despite Taillefer’s 42 saves, BU’s record stood at just 9-9-2.

In the series finale against the Gophers, who had moved into the top spot in the polls, the Terriers showed some impressive resilience by picking up a 4-2 victory, with Cullen lighting the lamp three times for his first hat trick of the season and Deraney stopping 39 shots. Minnesota took 85 shots on goal over the two games, but BU weathered the storm and came away with the split.

Bolstered by the win over Minnesota, BU drew another tough assignment three days later when it traveled to Matthews Arena to face third-ranked Northeastern in front of an amped-up NU crowd of over 4,700 fans, with the Huskies having already beaten the Terriers twice at Walter Brown Arena by a lopsided 12-5 margin. When the Huskies went up 2-0 at the end of the first period it looked like a potential sweep of the regular-season series was shaping up, but the Terriers responded with a strong second period to regain the lead on Thiesing’s first goal of the campaign along with scores from Sanders and MacGregor on a shorthanded opportunity. Senior forward and co-captain Chris Matchett gave BU a 4-3 advantage early in the final period but a late Northeastern goal sent the game into overtime. It didn’t take long for the Terriers to settle matters in OT as Donatelli scored 103 seconds into the extra session to send BU’s contingent of fans home happy.

BU then extended its winning streak to five games with a pair of home wins over Northern Michigan and a blowout of New Hampshire. The two-game series against NMU was a wild one as both games went to overtime, with the Terriers picking up 5-4 and 8-7 victories. Five different players hit the back of the net in the first game, with the last goal coming off the stick of Kelfer at the 7:48 mark of OT. A third-period goal-scoring explosion highlighted the Saturday night rematch, with the teams playing to a 2-2 draw after two periods but then combining for 11 goals in the third period. The Wildcats were gearing up for a win with a 7-5 lead and less than three minutes to play, but then it was time for the freshmen to take over as Kelfer picked up his second goal of the game to pull BU within one and then Young tied it 60 seconds later. Overtime was short and sweet, lasting just 23 seconds, with Octeau’s slapper beating NMU goalie Dennis Jiannaras. The Terriers improved to 14-9-2 after pounding UNH 9-1 with Young, senior center and co-captain Peter Marshall and Ryan all notching a pair of goals.

Having put together a five-game winning streak, BU prepared to host North Dakota for a big weekend series. During the 1984-85 season the Terriers had ventured out to the Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks for a pair of January games with the Fighting Sioux, but it turned into a long weekend for the visitors, as North Dakota recorded the sweep by scores of 9-3 and 5-2. BU didn’t get off to an auspicious start in the Friday night matchup as the Sioux scored the first three goals, but the Terriers fought back and pulled into a tie with goals scored by Matchett, Marshall and Donatelli. The Sioux answered back with three quick goals in the third period to regain command en route to a 7-4 victory. Saturday night’s outcome was no better as Dakota jumped on BU right from the start and chased Taillefer from the net after he allowed six goals. The Sioux cruised to an 8-3 win as the Terriers gave up the highest number of goals since an 8-6 road loss to Minnesota-Duluth at the end of November. In its second season of regular-season play against WCHA teams, BU finished 7-7-2 in 16 games.

After being humbled by the Sioux, the Terriers had one road game remaining at Lowell before the first round of the Beanpot Tournament took center stage. BU flexed its offensive muscle and was in control with a 7-2 lead with just under six minutes to play. But the Chiefs suddenly caught fire and scored three straight goals to cut the margin to 7-5 with over two minutes still remaining. Lowney’s goal with 17 seconds to go accounted for the 8-5 final with Cullen and Kelfer each accounting for a pair of goals and Donatelli and Matchett each picking up two assists.

Revenge was on the minds of the Terriers when they took to the Boston Garden ice to meet Northeastern in the first round of the Beanpot. The main factor behind that revenge wasn’t because the Huskies had won a pair of games at Walter Brown Arena earlier in the season, but because BU had gone down to defeat to NU in the Beanpot for three straight years, including in the finals in 1984 and ’85.

The Huskies looked like they were picking up where they had left off in the previous three Beanpots when they took a 3-1 lead at the first intermission. Jack Parker felt that BU was too tentative in its play during the first period so he changed his defensive strategy to put more pressure on the puck. And, with 40 minutes still to play, the Terriers knew there was sufficient time to come back from two goals down.

“We knew we played a so-so first period and we knew we would do better,” Cullen told The Boston Globe. “We just pulled together and it paid off.”

The payoff was a second period in which the Terriers outscored the Huskies 4-1. Cullen’s goal on the power play, off a nifty pass from Lowney, made it a 3-2 game, and was the biggest goal of the night according to Parker.

“If NU goes ahead 4-1 we’re in tough shape,” Parker told the Globe. “We made it 3-2 and kept it going.”

Senior forward Paul Gerlitz tied the game off a perfect feed from Matchett, and then Sveen (two goals) beat NU goalie Bruce Racine, the MVP of the ’85 Beanpot, to the glove side to put BU in the lead. Cullen finished off another pass on the mark from Lowney (three assists) to increase the lead to 5-3, but NU’s Jay Heinbuck scored against Taillefer from a bad angle to pull the Huskies to within a goal by the close of the second period.

The Terriers finally put NU away by scoring the first three goals of the third period, with Sanders, Marshall and Donatelli all getting pucks past Racine to put BU into the final round for the third straight season, where it would meet Boston College, a 4-2 winner over Harvard, for the silver trophy. Taillefer, with help from a strong all-around defensive effort by his teammates, was called upon to make just 15 saves.

BU and BC had previously met for the Beanpot crown nine times since 1957, and the Eagles held a slim 5-4 edge in those games. The most recent meeting between the schools in the Beanpot title game had come in 1982. In that matchup the favored Eagles, who had won 16 of their first 22 games, scored early in the first period to take the lead. But the Terriers, just 9-9-3 coming in, got the next three goals, including a pair from MVP Tom O’Regan, and goalie Cleon Daskalakis made 40 saves, including five or six of the spectacular variety, in a solid effort that produced a 3-1 victory.

Four years later the teams would fight for Boston bragging rights once again, in front of a fired-up Garden crowd of 14,451. BU got on the board first when Cullen worked his way through some BC defenders and then dished the puck off to Donatelli, who shot it by BC goalie Scott Gordon. The Eagles tied it up when Scott Harlow scored his 32nd goal of the season by flipping a loose puck through Taillefer.

Just 43 seconds after Harlow’s goal, Donatelli struck again, lifting a shot over Gordon after receiving a perfect drop pass from Cullen. Fourth-line senior forward Tony Majkozak, one of two players hailing from Minnesota on the BU roster, increased the Terriers lead to 3-1 before the horn sounded to end the first period. It was an ominous sign for the Eagles, who up to that point had outscored their opponents in the first period 54-29.

Both teams had their chances over the final two periods but the goalies stood their ground and came up with save after save, with Taillefer being the busier of the two. It wasn’t until 18:56 of the third period that another goal was scored, this one by a hustling Marshall into an empty BC net after Matchett’s initial shot went off the post, which finished off BU’s 4-1 victory and gave the Terriers their 13th Beanpot championship.

Taillefer took home tournament MVP honors after being credited with 43 saves, including one on a rising shot in the third period by Bob Sweeney that struck him in the throat, causing him to briefly collapse to the ice.

“I took the puck in the windpipe,” Taillefer told the Globe. “I wasn’t out, but I was numb. It hurt, but it was OK a minute later.”

In a formula typical of many successful BU teams, physical play was a key to the victory.

“BC is much bigger than we are and they figured to bang us around a bit,” Parker mentioned in the Globe, “so we went after them first. We wanted them to know that we could play the body too.”

Or, as junior defensman Scott Shaunessy, one of BU’s most physical players who did his part in rattling a number of Eagles with punishing checks said, “every time that rubber hit the ice, a white jersey was on top of a maroon jersey so there would be no second shots.”

That type of effort helped Shaunessy’s wait for a championship game win in the Boston Garden finally end.

“My freshman year we lost in the Beanpot finals [to NU] and we lost in the ECACs [in the championship game to RPI], and then last year we lost in the Beanpot again [in the final to NU],” Shaunessy said in the Globe. “I spent the whole last week thinking, ‘I’ve got to win a big game in the Garden.’ ”

The weekend after the Beanpot triumph BU traveled up to Maine for a two-game set with the Black Bears. In the Friday night game at Alfond Arena, the home team held a 2-1 late into the third period before goals by Lowney and Kelfer in the last 4:37 lifted the Terriers to a one-goal victory. The next night BU fell into a 3-0 hole in the first period but then busted out for six straight goals to finish off the sweep and attain 20 victories in the regular season for the third straight year. Cullen, who finished with two goals and two assists, started the onslaught and Marshall finished it off with a marker at 5:47 of the third period. Deraney, after giving up the three first-period goals, settled down and finished with 26 saves.

Just four games remained until the start of the Hockey East playoffs and BU went 2-1-1 down the stretch, picking up wins over Providence (2-0) and New Hampshire (5-1) and in two games with Boston College, losing to the Eagles 7-4 at McHugh Forum and tying them 3-3 in overtime at Walter Brown Arena in the season finale. In the loss at BC, the Terriers fell behind 5-1 in the second period, but goals by Quinn, Labrosse and Young cut the deficit to 5-4 with just over five minutes to play in the game. BC, however, scored the final two goals to secure the win. In the rematch at WBA, the Eagles took the lead three times, and each time BU came back to knot the score on tallies by Young, Donatelli and Sveen, whose goal came with just over four minutes left. Neither team scored in OT and each settled for one point, with Taillefer being credited with 31 saves and a busy Gordon with 43.

For the second straight year BC finished atop the Hockey East standings with a 23-9-2 mark, with BU taking second place again at 20-11-3, five points behind the Eagles. As a result of their first-place finish, the Eagles drew a bye in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs while second-seeded BU was slated to host seventh-seeded New Hampshire (5-27-2) at WBA, beginning on March 7. The Terriers had swept the season series from the Wildcats, outscoring them by a hefty 18-5 over three games, but the two-game total goals series would turn out to be much tighter than expected.

The Wildcats had lost seven consecutive games to the Terriers and had last won at WBA during the 1984 ECAC playoffs, but they had a little extra motivation heading into the quarterfinal series. Coach Charlie Holt, who had been behind the bench for 18 years and had more or less put UNH hockey on the map, was retiring at season’s end, after having won 347 games and guided the Wildcats to Final Four appearances in 1977, ’79 and ’82. The Wildcats wanted to do everything possible to make Holt’s last trip to the postseason a memorable one.

Holt decided to change UNH’s strategy around in an attempt to slow down the Terriers. The Wildcats were known for playing a fast, wide-open brand of hockey, but Holt opted to go with a more conservative, defense-oriented style to slow the pace of the games down and make the Terriers work for everything they got.

Holt’s strategy looked like a masterful move in the first game when the teams played through two scoreless periods, with UNH goaltender Greg Rota having made 20 saves and Taillefer 12. A little more than six minutes into the third period UNH’s leading scorer, Steve Leach, scored on the power play with Cullen in the penalty box to give the Wildcats a 1-0 advantage. The score would stay that way until Donatelli, on an assist from Cullen, got the Terriers on the board at 17:56. The game ended in a 1-1 tie, with Rota finishing with 31 stops and Taillefer 18. Holt’s squad accomplished what it set out to do: head into the second game with a chance to advance with a stunning series upset.

The pace of the game opened up in the Saturday night rematch and the Terriers took advantage by outshooting the Wildcats 16-4 in the first period. Sveen got BU on the board at 6:54, and just 20 seconds later, the Terriers went ahead 2-0 when Lowney shot the puck by Rota (42 saves) into the corner of the net. But before the period expired Leach beat Taillefer on a backhander to pull the Wildcats within a goal. Rick Lambert tied the game and the series when he got UNH’s second goal early in the second period. Lowney answered with a shot through a screen for the Terriers, who outshot the Wildcats 30-11 through the first two periods. With each team skating down a man Young gave BU some cushion with a goal at 11:30 of the third period, but going all out for its retiring coach in his 597th game, UNH made it 4-3 after Leach pulled the trigger and again beat Taillefer with 2:25 left. BU managed to hold onto the lead until the final buzzer and escaped the potential upset with a 5-4 series win, moving on to the Providence Civic Center the following weekend for another challenging semifinal round match up with Providence College and its goaltender Terreri, the same one who made 33 saves against BU the previous year in the playoffs to put a lid on the Terriers’ season.

“We played with more emotion tonight,” Parker said in the Globe after the stubborn Wildcats had finally been beaten. “We played with a lot more zip. As John Lennon once said, ‘You know it ain’t easy.’ There was an immense difference in the attitude. We were certainly more intense. We knew they had a chance to end our season tonight. You’ve got to give UNH credit for the way they played. They played like a great-coached team.”

Marshall said it took the Terriers a while to get untracked in the series after a sluggish first game, but the team knew a quarterfinal loss would bring a swift end to the season.

“We realized this could be our last home game,” Marshall noted in the Globe. “We kept our composure and stuck with it. Everyone pulled together nicely and we knew what we had to do.

“We were quiet [in the locker room] before the game, and the coach came in and started to joke to get the blood flowing.”

The BU-PC game eerily followed the same pattern from the previous Hockey East Tournament, with the Friars clinging to a one-goal advantage early in the third period. Terreri was rising to the occasion once more and would finish the game with 35 saves, but instead of being deflated by a disallowed tying goal, BU kept its focus, scored twice over the final nine minutes and advanced to meet BC, which had cruised into the championship game by building a 4-0 lead over Lowell en route to a 5-2 victory. The Terriers had taken the hard road and survived while the Eagles had registered their ninth win in 11 games in a much easier fashion. BU and BC would be playing for the biggest postseason prize on the ice since they met in the same building for the NCAA title eight years earlier, a 5-3 victory for the Terriers.

Boston College, led by a nine-member senior class, entered the Hockey East championship game as the No. 2-ranked team in the country with a 26-10-3 record, and the Eagles had not dropped a game since the Feb. 10 loss to BU in the Beanpot final. BC had its usual share of offensive guns, including Hockey East Player of the Year Scott Harlow (37 goals, 38 assists), Doug Brown (40 assists), Kevin Stevens (17 goals) and Bob Sweeney (15 goals). The Eagles also had Hockey East’s Most Outstanding Goalie in Scott Gordon (19-9-1, 3.36 goals against average).

Boston University was 24-12-4 and ranked sixth in the nation. The Terriers were on a 10-1-2 run, with the only loss during that streak on the road at BC. The Donatelli-Cullen-Lowney line was one of the most productive in Hockey East and Taillefer had enjoyed a solid junior campaign in goal, sporting a 15-6-3 record and a 3.27 GAA, including the Beanpot win over BC. The Terriers also had the Hockey East Coach of the Year behind the bench in Jack Parker.

But before the puck even dropped against BC Parker was forced to shuffle his lineup. Jay Octeau, the highest scoring defenseman on the team, had missed hotel curfew after the win over Providence and was a scratch for BU’s biggest game of the season. Matchett, a defenseman for his first two years at school but who eventually was moved to forward for his final two seasons, was moved back to his old position to take Octeau’s place while senior Tony Majkozak moved in to Matchett’s spot at left wing.

Boston College had its chances early in the first period as a Ken Hodge shot glanced off the post and Taillefer made a pad save on Craig Janney’s shot from the slot. Gordon also stopped Young from in close to keep the game scoreless. The Terriers finally broke through on a nice passing play. Cullen sent a pass to Donatelli at the right side of the net, and he moved the puck back to Cullen, who was moving down the slot. Cullen shifted left, skated across the crease and tucked a backhander by Gordon’s right pad and inside the post for his 24th goal of the year and a 1-0 lead at 4:08.

A little over a minute later MacGregor broke through BC’s defense and let go a shot. Gordon made the pad save but the puck bounced out to Marshall, who was trailing the play. Marshall pounced on the rebound and flipped it over a fallen Gordon to give the Terriers a two-goal lead.

Later in the period Taillefer was called upon to come up big again, robbing Hodge in the slot and making a chest save on the dangerous Harlow. The Eagles took advantage of a power play to finally get on the board at 13:50 when Brown, in traffic, put a rebound past Taillefer from the left side of the crease. The teams went to the locker room with BU ahead 2-1.

The second period would determine the outcome of the game, with one team being kept off the scoreboard while at the same time being buried under a blizzard of five goals. For the Hockey East regular-season champions from Chestnut Hill, the rest of the evening would be a long and forgettable one.

Just 53 seconds into the period BU was on the power play and Cullen set up Kelfer for a tip in front of Gordon. Gordon got his pad on the tip but couldn’t control the rebound and Donatelli put the loose puck into the net to build the lead back to two goals. Less than a minute later the Terriers struck again when Marshall drove his way down the left wing and let go a shot that Gordon stopped with his arm. But again he couldn’t hold on and MacGregor poked the loose puck through the crease and back over to Marshall, who didn’t make full contact but still nudged it enough to get it over the line, just a split second before getting shoved from behind and into the post by BC defenseman Bob Emery.

Harlow had another excellent chance when he skated in alone down the left side on Taillefer, but the BU goalie made the stop. BU’s defense got involved in the onslaught when Shaunessy gathered in a loose puck just below the blue line, moved around a BC defender and placed a shot under Gordon’s glove to make it 5-1 Terriers with less than seven minutes left into the period.

The frustration of the Eagles and their fans reached a boiling point when Gerlitz’s backhand pass sprung the speedy Marshall down the slot. From there Marshall moved in on Gordon and lifted a backhander into the upper right corner of the net to complete his first career hat trick and give BU a stunning five-goal advantage at the 8:23 mark. Gordon, who had played so well for BC during the season, finally succumbed to his emotions and smashed his goalie stick on the goalpost after Marshall’s tally.

Not even a man advantage could bring the Eagles back to life, as the Terriers killed off two consecutive BC power plays later in the period. The last of the fireworks for the period came courtesy of BU’s fourth line. Sanders broke down left wing and fired a cross-ice pass to Labrosse. With Labrosse in deep but at a difficult angle, he passed off to Sveen, the two-goal hero from the night before, who was positioned near the crease. Sveen took the pass and deposited it into the net for a 7-1 BU cushion. Through two periods the Eagles were outshooting the Terriers 29-27 but were looking up at an insurmountable deficit.

Boston College rediscovered its pulse behind goals from Hodge and Harlow to make it 7-3 with just over 11 minutes to go, but BU countered with a pair of goals to build the lead back up to six. MacGregor (two assists) stepped around a BC defenseman and hit the twine with a slapper and Sveen closed out the Terriers’ barrage by picking up his fourth goal of the weekend on a rebound of a Labrosse (two assists) shot at 12:14. BC’s John Devereaux closed out the scoring in the 9-4 rout, as Marshall took home honors as the tournament MVP. Along with fellow senior captain Matchett, Marshall skated the Hockey East championship trophy around the Civic Center ice, much to the approval of the happy horde of BU fans on hand.

“I don’t know why [the blowout] occurred,” Matchett told the Globe. “The bounces went our way for a change. BC came out a little flat, but not that flat. It’s a great feeling.

“When we won the Beanpot, it was the first thing we’d won since the Syracuse Invitational in my freshman year [1982-83]. I think our team realized what it’s like to lose [in the Beanpot and in the ECAC and Hockey East playoffs]. We’ve won a lot of games coming from behind this year. Hopefully, it shows to the people who watch games that our team has a lot of character.”

Parker, for one, was very surprised at the final outcome.

“I predicted it would be a low-scoring game,” he said in the Globe. “Both teams were in good shape, but we had the advantage of playing tough games the last two weeks. We got a lot of turnovers, and when we had turnovers in our own zone, Taillefer came up with the big play.”

Taillefer turned aside 39 BC shots and Gordon was credited with 31 saves.

Despite going 0-2-1 during the regular season against the Eagles, BU’s victories in the higher-profile championship games of the Beanpot and Hockey East Tournament provided satisfaction to every player in a Scarlet and White jersey.

“It was always special to beat Boston College in any situation, but those particular games were very meaningful,” said Ryan. “Boston College had an extremely talented team that year, but we felt we were really good as well. A team takes on the persona of its coach and we knew we were prepared mentally and physically for that Beanpot game.

“The only surprise to us as a team about the Hockey East final was how lopsided the score was. There was no doubt in the locker room we were going to win. It was one of those games where the puck jumped in the net for us. We had an edge knowing we had a great big-game coach preparing us, as well as history [versus BC] on our side, and we took advantage of both.”

By virtue of the commanding win over the Eagles, the Terriers, now 25-12-4 overall, were awarded the No. 1 seed in the East for the NCAA Tournament. In the quarterfinal round they would play host to the No. 4 West seed, Minnesota (32-12), in a two-game total goals series at Walter Brown Arena, beginning on March 21. The Gophers, who split a series with BU back in January on their home ice, had beaten Colorado College and Wisconsin in the WCHA playoffs before being eliminated by regular-season champion Denver.

Minnesota had put over 80 shots on the BU net in the January series in Minneapolis, and their offense didn’t miss a beat when the NCAA quarterfinals began. It took them all of 52 second to pick up the first goal of the series when Gary Shopek’s shot got by Taillefer. But the Terriers were kicking their offense into overdrive as well, with both teams engaging in end-to-end action.

But trailing by a goal would soon become the least of BU’s worries. That’s because a critical turning point of the series would occur less than a minute after Shopek’s goal, taking down a player with an injury that BU could least afford to lose. On Peter Marshall’s first shift of the game he got tangled up with Minnesota’s Pat Micheletti, lost an edge and went sliding into the boards skates-first. The collision with the boards broke a bone in Marshall’s left leg. He was carried off the ice on a stretcher at the hushed WBA, having played in his final college game. It was a devastating blow for the Terriers, for now they would have to play the rest of the series without their catalyst and emotional leader with the non-stop motor.

“Marshall was arguably one of Jack Parker’s best captains ever,” observed Corbett, who was in his first season of calling the radio play-by-play. “He came in as a freshman and was a leader right away, with his character and toughness. He played with a relentless style and had a great will to win. His injury ripped the team apart and I don’t think they ever got over it. They were emotionally down for the rest of the series.”

Though missing a key component without their injured co-captain, the Terriers evened the score when Gerlitz shot the puck past Minnesota goalie Frank Pietrangelo at 8:05. Just 27 seconds later Young elicited a roar from the crowd with a goal to push BU into the lead. The Terriers peppered Pietrangelo with 17 shots by the end of the period, but still held only a 2-1 lead.

“They came out hard in that first period, and it was important for us to get out of it just a goal down,” Pietrangelo, who finished with 33 saves, told the Globe. “They played one of the best periods they could and were still only up by a goal. I think it kind of killed their momentum a little.”

Steve MacSwain knotted the score at 2-2 for the Gophers, but the Terriers again came right back behind a superb individual effort from Cullen, as he rushed the puck the length of the ice and, after making like he was going to dish off to Lowney, instead fired it into the net for a 3-2 BU lead with just over 11 minutes left in the period.

In the third period BU’s defense began to wear down from the continuous pressure from Minnesota’s offense and leading scorer Corey Millen tied up the series with a goal just 42 seconds in. Less than six minutes later, in rapid-fire succession of just 73 seconds, the Gophers got goals from Tim Bergland, Micheletti and MacSwain to stagger the home team. Octeau’s power play strike late in the period cut the margin to 6-4, but the Terriers, who got 38 saves from Taillefer, would be starting the second game of the series in a two-goal hole, and more importantly, without the presence of one of the team’s biggest leaders in the lineup.

“You just have to hang in there,” Minnesota coach Doug Woog said in the Globe. “BU played so well in that first period, but we stayed in it. Then we made some plays and found some holes.”

Over 3,500 fans made their way into Walter Brown Arena for the second game on Saturday night. The Gophers had generated plenty of offensive chances on Friday night and received a strong game in goal from Pietrangelo, but Woog made a switch in net and started John Blue, who had won 20 games during the season and was impressive enough to be selected to First Team All-WCHA.

Needing three goals to Minnesota’s none to regain the lead in the series, Parker knew his club would need to come out with a strong first period.

That’s just what BU did.

Octeau led off the scoring for the Terriers and got the crowd into the game, and when Matchett gave BU a 2-0 lead and tied the series at 6-6, the crowd noise bounded off the arena’s low ceiling and back down onto the celebrating players on the ice. With Taillefer doing his part in keeping the puck out of the net, that’s the way the first period ended.

Blue and Taillefer continued to shine and the game remained deadlocked until the late stages of the second period. After playing well through most of two periods, especially with one of its co-captains sitting in a hospital bed in Boston, BU’s situation deteriorated quickly when the Gophers scored tacked on a pair of goals over the last 2:21 to regain a two-goal series lead.

Minnesota also got the first two scores of the third period to open a commanding four-goal series advantage. Never-say-die Donatelli got one back for the Terriers, but that would prove to be their last goal of the season, after which Minnesota added an empty-netter to make it a 5-3 final and an 11-7 total goals triumph.

Instead of being able to return to the scene—the Providence Civic Center—of their huge victory over Boston College in the Hockey East championship game for the upcoming Final Four, the Terriers’ season, which had begun back on October 26, was instead officially in the books on March 22. Minnesota moved on to meet the No. 2 Western seed, Michigan State, in the NCAA semifinals after the Spartans had disposed of third-seeded Boston College 10-6. It was there that the Gophers had their season end abruptly with a 6-4 setback. In the other semifinal, second-seeded Harvard downed the top Western seed, Denver, 5-2. But the Crimson would have to wait another three years to win the school’s first hockey championship, as the Spartans erupted for three third-period goals to win 6-5, wrapping up their first NCAA title in 20 years.

“Memories of the Minnesota series come down to two things: their goalies were outstanding and Peter Marshall’s injury,” noted Ryan. “You don’t realize unless you were a member of that team how important Peter was to us both on and off the ice. He was a great leader and captain, and losing him really deflated the whole team. That’s how much respect he had within our locker room. That being said, Minnesota was an outstanding college hockey team.”

The top line of Donatelli-Cullen-Lowney provided the fuel that powered BU’s offense, which averaged 4.3 goals per game. That trio finished the season as the team’s top three scorers, with the Terriers having eight players who scored 11 or more goals. Cullen was second-leading goal scorer (25, including eight on the power play) and was the team and Hockey East leader in assists (49), as he captured the team MVP award. While putting up those numbers he also earned a spot on the All-Hockey East First Team as well as being selected a Second Team All-American. Donatelli, tabbed for the All-Hockey East Second Team as well as Second Team All-American, was the Terriers’ top goal scorer (28) and added 34 assists. His 10 power play goals led the squad and his four game-winning goals tied for the team lead. Lowney’s totals included 18 goals, with seven on the power play, and 20 assists.

“In thinking about John Cullen and Clark Donatelli as players, the first thing that comes to mind is how underrated they are within the BU community,” mentioned Ryan. “Whenever people talk about the great players at BU, for some reason they don’t get the respect they deserve. John was an incredible puck handler and passer and he had the ability to slow the game down when he had the puck to create time and space. As good as his hands, instincts and all-around ability were, to me his greatest attributes were his intensity and competitiveness.

“Clark was the toughest and most competitive kid I ever played with or against in my life. He was a tremendous skater who had the ability to intimidate opponents with his speed as well as his physical toughness, and he had a great knack of scoring goals at the right time. He had an outstanding work ethic in practice and in games, and he demanded that of his teammates as well.

“Ed Lowney was the perfect complement to Cullen and Donatelli. He was a quiet leader who had a great ability to get open and score goals. He worked extremely hard, was a relentless forechecker and played with a quiet intensity.”

Cullen, whom Corbett described as having a “magic” stick that helped him become a consummate playmaker, spent one more season in a Terrier uniform and left behind a mark of point production unlike any BU player before or since, becoming the only three-time winner of the team MVP award as well as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 98 goals (second behind Chris Drury’s 113) and 143 assists (tied with David Sacco for the career lead) for 241 points in 160 games. He was named to the Hockey East All-Decade Team in 1994 and was also voted one of the Top 25 Hockey East forwards during the league’s 25th anniversary in 2009. After departing BU, Cullen enjoyed a nine-year NHL career in Pittsburgh, Hartford, Toronto and Tampa Bay, contributing 187 goals and 363 assists in 621 games. But despite all his on-ice success, perhaps his most lasting accomplishment was winning a grueling 18-month battle against non-Hodgkins lymphoma in the late 1990s, eventually regaining his health and returning to play in the NHL in four final games with the Lightning.

Donatelli spent two abbreviated seasons with the North Stars and Bruins and was also a member of the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1988 in Calgary and 1992 in France. Lowney, like Cullen a four-year player, scored 154 points in a school-record 162 games played.

The co-captains also did their share of pitching in to BU’s success. Matchett continued his successful transition from defense to forward by finishing fourth on the team in assists with 23, but he also plugged a vital hole in the BU defense in the Hockey East championship game when Octeau suspended. Marshall, whose injury in the NCAA playoffs hampered BU’s hopes of advancing to the Final Four, contributed 15 goals, 10 assists and immeasurable leadership, hustle and inspiration. He also captured the Bennett McInnis Memorial Award for team spirit for the fourth straight season (finishing with 104 career points) and is the only player in BU history to win a team award for four consecutive years.

Sveen’s 15-goal campaign was highlighted by his four-goal weekend in the Hockey East playoff wins over Providence and Boston College and four of the 11 goals that Sanders netted were game-winners, tying him for the team lead. The senior trio of MacGregor, Gerlitz and Majkozak provided a good dose of experience to Parker’s lineup, with MacGregor, a solid forechecker and penalty killer, joining Cullen, Donatelli and Lowney to play in each of the team’s 43 games.

Also making significant contributions up front were a pair of freshmen, Young and Kelfer. Young finished fifth on the team in scoring with 16 goals and 13 assists, as he shared the Hockey East Rookie of the Year award with Maine goalie Al Loring. Kelfer, whose overtime goal against Northeastern helped lead BU to the 1987 Beanpot championship, collected 13 goals and 14 assists.

Young would wear a BU jersey only through his sophomore season before embarking on a distinguished professional career that included playing 1,181 games in the NHL with Hartford (he was a first-round draft pick of the Whalers in 1986), Pittsburgh, Quebec, Colorado, Anaheim, St. Louis and Dallas. His career totals included 342 goals and 415 assists for 757 points. He is the only former BU player to have won Stanley Cups with two different teams, in 1991 with Pittsburgh and ’96 with Colorado. On the international stage, Young participated in three Olympics with Team USA, in 1988 and ’92 with former Terrier teammate Donatelli, and as one of five former Terriers on the 2002 squad in Salt Lake City that took home the silver medal. He was also on the USA team that defeated Canada for the gold medal at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, joining three former Terriers on that team.

Not to be overlooked was the steady play of the defense corps. Octeau was the highest scoring defenseman in Hockey East with eight goals and 27 assists, earning him a nod as a Second Team All-American, while his partner, Shaunessy, dealt out countless hits as BU’s most physical player while also chipping in with four goals and 22 assists to earn a spot on the All-Hockey East First Team. The sophomore tandem of Ryan and Quinn, who together would serve as co-captains as seniors, was also very steady, with Ryan a dependable performer in his own zone and Quinn, another All-Hockey East First Team selection, showcasing some offensive skills with two goals and 20 assists. Quinn’s promising playing career, which included being selected in the first round of the NHL draft by the North Stars in 1984, was unfortunately derailed by a blood disorder, but he returned to his alma mater in 2004 to serve as associate head coach to Parker for five seasons, including overseeing the team’s defense in the national championship year of 2008-09. The last defense pairing included Thiesing and freshman Jim Ennis.

The 1985-86 season proved to be a major career rebound for goalie Terry Taillefer. During his sophomore year he was slowed by bursitis in both hips and a separated shoulder, limiting him to just 15 games. As a junior he played in 29 games (including starting 11 of the last 13 games) and had a 16-8-3 record and 3.38 goals against average. He was named the Beanpot MVP and was a member of the All-Hockey East Second Team. Two of his 16 wins came against BC in the Beanpot and Hockey East championship games. Deraney started in goal in nine of the first 11 games before giving way to Taillefer, finishing up with an 8-6-1 record and a 3.48 GAA, second only to BC’s Gordon in Hockey East.

“I think the first thing that comes to mind for me was how talented that team was. You could make a case for that being one of the most talented teams ever at BU,” said Corbett. “That team had real character as well as some real characters. What separated them in the big games, in the Beanpot and in the Hockey East playoffs, is that you had guys who you could depend on and who were also great teammates.”

And what once hung above the ice at Walter Brown Arena and now hangs in the rafters of Agganis Arena, the first of Boston University’s seven Hockey East Champions banners, is proof of that.

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