MEN'S HOCKEY: Closing In On A Class Of His Own
Eagles Bounce Back Against Terriers In Career Night For York
Published: Monday, December 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Strictly according to the box score, Saturday night’s 5-2 victory over No. 9 Boston University (8-5-0, 6-4-0 HEA) for the No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey team (11-2-0, 9-2-0 HEA) was a result of exceptional special teams performance by the Eagles and a two-goal night for junior forward Bill Arnold.
“I thought compared to last night’s efforts by us, just looking at our team, I thought we were just smarter and our effort was better,” said head coach Jerry York. “I thought last night was kind of a battle of wills, and last night BU had an edge on us in a lot of different categories. Tonight we were just that much better than we played last night.”
What the simple analysis doesn’t show, however, was the unique importance this game carried for one of the team’s most esteemed members: its head coach.
This win wasn’t just any regular beatdown of BC’s biggest rival. The victory also marked career win No. 924 for head coach Jerry York, tying him with Ron Mason for the all-time NCAA career mark. With one more win, York will be the most decorated collegiate head coach in history.
Despite the remarkable personal accolade, York downplayed its significance in his postgame remarks.
“It’s so hard to talk about, because of the emotions there are,” York said. “I think I’ve done a good job, players are never talking about it. We always tell our players if you put yourself above the team, good things are not going to happen. So whether it’s a coach thinking about personal records, or a player thinking about All-American or Hobey Baker, you don’t succeed very often, or at least you don’t win a lot. Everything was more pointed to this series.”
After a disappointing road loss to the Terriers the night prior, the Eagles repaired their woes in a complete team effort that gave them a welcomed split in the series.
“I think everyone watching, especially in our locker room knew that we didn’t play exactly how we wanted to, we didn’t come out as physical as we wanted to,” said senior captain Pat Mullane. “ [Saturday] morning we kind of said that’s unacceptable, and we came out tonight. I think that the physical part of our game was there, which made it a lot easier for us. I think we took away a lot of their defense’s time, which caused a lot of turnovers.”
That game plan involved taking advantage of special teams opportunities with an aggressive offensive onslaught. The Eagles registered as many shots as possible on Terrier goaltender Matt O’Connor and hoped for a little luck along the way rather than a more patient, drawn-up approach.
“Preparing during the week, we spent a lot of time on it,” Arnold said. “I don’t think we necessarily changed anything tonight. We were just able to get pucks down to the net, which is something the coaches stressed, and crash the net and get dirty, gritty goals. It doesn’t have to be tic-tac-toe on the power play. We were able to do that tonight.”
BC’s first four goals were on the power play, and aside from a long strike by freshman blue-liner Michael Matheson in the second period none of them were too flashy. Teddy Doherty registered the first tally early in the first at 10:40 directly in front of the net, and Arnold was incredibly successful at playing clean-up duty all night. His second goal at 16:38 was an effective rebound score that came just 50 seconds after Matheson gave BC a 3-1 lead.
“We had to generate more shots because BU, they cut down passing lanes,” York said. “The hardest thing to defend is a shot and a rebound, because you aren’t programmed to know where the puck is going to go. If you can get a shot off, even a shot off the end boards, that’s huge for our team.”
Senior goaltender Parker Milner, who was tested on the road Friday night, was kept comfortable throughout. He faced just 23 shots all game, a testament to BC’s stout defensive play.
Production came from some of the usual suspects, as the multiple-goal performance was Arnold’s third of his career and Kevin Hayes aggregated three assists. But on a night where Johnny Gaudreau’s 12-game point streak came to an end, some new players found their way to the contents of the box score. Freshmen Brendan Silk and Doherty both scored the first goals of their young careers.
The unity in Saturday’s game was fitting when considering some of York’s finest work during his 41-season coaching career. York’s teams have always possessed good players, but he has championed a team-first mentality as instrumental for a program’s long-term success. That was on full display against BU.
“There are a lot of guys on our team that play fourth or third line duty that could be playing first line duty at a lot of other schools,” Mullane said. “They come here because they are willing to put notoriety on the back burner and play for a championship team. Play for a team that’s main goal is team first, me second. Coach York makes sure that everything that the team does is team first, and there’s no place for selfishness or a me-attitude at BC. It’s everything for the team and for this University.”