Campus Greets National Champions
NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey National Champions Honored With Ceremony At O’Neill Plaza
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
It was a picture-perfect setting to celebrate the men’s hockey team on Tuesday afternoon at O’Neill Plaza. As the sun shone down on the center stage, the Boston College community welcomed back its players, who brought with them a new piece of hardware: the National Championship trophy.
Just three days after winning the title, the team began the parade in front of Conte Forum in trollies that were decked out in BC garb. Led by the BC marching band, a convertible, and a zamboni, the trollies then took the players and staff around Campanella Way and up Commonwealth Avenue, before turning down Linden Lane. Hundreds of students, family members, and staff members met the team in O’Neill Plaza.
“I’m so excited to be here and look at the setting, it’s almost surreal,” head coach Jerry York said to the large crowd. “We’re all here celebrating something that Boston College has achieved. We’re just very, very excited to share it with everybody.”
Reid Oslin served as the voice of the ceremony, as he began by welcoming the special guests, which included University President Rev. Wiliam P. Leahy, S.J., U.S. Senator John Kerry, Newton mayor Setti Warren, and athletic director Gene DeFilippo.
Then each of BC’s national championship teams were introduced, with a few players from each team walking down the steps of O’Neill Plaza with their respective trophy in hand. Carrying the trophy from the 1949 team was Len Ceglarski, Ed Casey, and Fran Harrington. Tim Kelleher, Bobby Allen, and Justin Dziama presented the 2001 trophy. The players from the 2008 team that brought down the trophy were Matt Greene, Andrew Orpik, Kyle Kucharski, and Ken Ryan. Finally, Cam Atkinson, Matt Lombardi, and Ben Smith carried down the 2010 trophy.
Then it was time to introduce the most recent national champions, as everyone from head coach Jerry York to the team bus driver was welcomed one by one. After everyone was announced, the team captains—Tommy Cross, Barry Almeida, and Paul Carey—presented the trophy to Leahy and DeFilippo.
“It’s truly an impressive sight, the sun is shining on this wonderful [hockey] team,” Leahy said. “Jerry, I thank you.”
In his speech, Kerry was able to capture the journey that BC has been through over the past three months, and the special meaning of yet another national championship ceremony.
“It’s a pleasure for me to be able to be here at the Heights to celebrate a really extraordinary team,” Kerry said. “I can only imagine what it was like when these guys left Maine back in January for a long and tough ride home. I know that Tommy Cross got the team together and had a conversation and they haven’t lost since. That’s leadership, and it’s also teamwork. These guys came together like magic. I don’t know if there’s something that Jerry puts in the water here or what.
“But there’s something about Boston College hockey. You look at the hardware over here, they’re going to have to call Conte Forum ‘The Jerry York Hardware Store’ pretty soon.”
Kerry then announced that he had been in touch with the White House, and that President Barack Obama was looking forward to welcoming the Eagles there soon.
Warren spoke next, and declared April 10 “National Championship Boston College hockey day” in the city of Newton.
York and Cross spoke last, before DeFilippo presented the 2012 National Championship banner that was draped off the top of O’Neill Library.
“It’s a remarkable achievement that we have players here from the ’49 team, the ’01 team, the ’08 team, the ’10 team, and the ’12 team,” York said. “We’re extremely proud of all those champions. But we’re also very proud of anyone that’s donned a maroon and gold sweater in the history of Boston College.
“I want to tell you how pleased I was and how proud I was of these young players. They’ve done some remarkable things, these seniors over their four years. But this particular year was something that we’re extremely proud of.”
Cross also acknowledged the former players in attendance, before thanking the fans for their season-long support.
“I’d like to thank the former players that are here today,” Cross said. “It’s from you guys that the guys down here wearing the jerseys and myself learned the tradition and what it takes to bring trophies home.
“It’s been unbelievable to see the support that our team has gotten this year. The trophy is here for you guys.”
Cross experienced the parade and ceremony back in 2010 as well, but said after Tuesday’s event that he appreciated this one a little bit more as a senior.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “Just the number of people here, the enthusiasm, it’s just so much fun to bring a trophy back here. In 2010, I thought the experience couldn’t have been any better. I think as a senior, you cherish it a little more and it means a little more. I can’t say enough, today was an unbelievable day.”
The ceremonies ended with the players going into the crowd to sign autographs and take pictures with fans, but before they did, York had one last line to ignite the crowd.
“I want to thank you for a terrific day,” York concluded, “and we’re going to have many more champions here in the future.”