Senior Leadership Proves Key In Championship Run
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
TAMPA — You couldn’t have scripted a better way for the 2012 Boston College senior class to end its college hockey days. A 4-1 win over Ferris State on Saturday night in Tampa gave the seniors their second National Championship, and sent them out on top.
Leaving Chestnut Hill with an overall record of 110-42-1, including a 22-2 mark in the postseason, this senior class—composed of Tommy Cross, Paul Carey, Barry Almeida, Edwin Shea, Chris Venti, and Tommy Atkinson—has certainly made its mark on the program.
“They’ve been excellent,” said head coach Jerry York. “They’ve had a terrific impact, even on the 2010 team. This year, there were Paul Carey, Barry Almeida, Edwin Shea, Tommy [Cross] … Those are really good players.”
Some games this season, the seniors would light up the stat sheet. Other nights, they might not figure into the scoring at all. But their leadership has consistently been there night in and night out, something that the underclassmen have certainly appreciated throughout the year.
“The group, the eight of them [seniors]—including the two managers—have been such an integral part of this team and this school,” Mullane said. “Since I arrived on campus, they’ve been such good mentors for the younger guys and for me. Guys like Tommy Cross and Paul Carey and Barry Almeida, they’re easy to look up to and they’re easy to emulate. They bring so much to this locker room and to this school—it’s awesome. I couldn’t think of eight guys more deserving of a National Championship.”
This year’s freshman class had a big impact throughout the course of the season, but they realize they might not be basking in the spotlight of the National Championship if it weren’t for their senior leaders.
“Coming into BC as a freshman class, we looked up to all the other guys,” said freshman standout Johnny Gaudreau. “Most of them won a National Championship already. And we were following in their footsteps, and they taught us nothing but great things. And I don’t think we’d be here today if we didn’t get great leadership through the sophomores all the way to the seniors. And we freshmen gotta thank them for helping us along the way.”
That senior leadership bringing along the underclassmen is a staple of York’s programs at BC, and proved key once again to a successful season.
“I know all the underclassmen really wanted to get this one for the seniors because they’ve meant so much to this program, and they mean so much to us,” said the Frozen Four’s Most Outstanding Player and junior Parker Milner. “So I’m glad we could do it as a whole.”
It wasn’t always easy success for this class, though. Their freshman year, the group was a part of a team that played its final game in the Hockey East semifinal round, bowing out to BU 3-2. It was after that season ended that a meeting may have turned their career at BC from an ordinary one to a special one.
“I remember our freshman year, we didn’t get off on the right foot in our career,” Cross said. “And I remember a talk we had with Coach [Mike Cavanaugh], probably in June after our freshman year, and he said, ‘You’ve got to realize what you’re a part of and turn some things around if you want to be a winning class, because winning classes are defined by the big trophies.’”
Cross and his classmates took Cavanaugh’s encouragement to heart, and three years later, they’ve racked up their fair share of trophies: three Beanpots, three Hockey East Tournament championships, and most importantly, two National Championships.
“The class last year, with Gibby and Whit and them, they had two trophies,” Cross said. “And we have two of our own now. It feels unbelievable.”
“It’s something special,” Carey added. “I thought we had a great team last year, and I was really close with some of the seniors. We didn’t want to go out the same way they did, and I think we learned from our mistakes. Now we’re going out as champs.”
This year’s team could have been another ordinary one if it had not been for the senior leadership. Before the season began, York was unsure of what his team was capable of, having to replace an important senior class. He thought it could have been somewhat of a rebuilding year for the Eagles, thinking the team might be down a notch from the previous year.
In mid-January, it looked like York’s thoughts may have been turning out to be true. BC had just been swept at Maine, and the Eagles were enduring a tough stretch in which they went 6-9-1. It was after that weekend, though, that Cross called a team meeting, and along with his classmates, that senior leadership turned the season around.
Nineteen games later, the Eagles still haven’t lost, and they have another piece of impressive hardware to add to the trophy case.
“It’s unbelievable,” Shea said. “Words can’t really describe it. It feels like one of those NHL commercials where everyone’s holding the Cup and they’re speechless. You can’t ask for anything better than going out on top.”