AMHERST, Mass. — It came a little later in the year than many expected, but for Boston College men’s hockey head coach Jerry York, it was a moment he never saw coming.
York has reached many coaching milestones in his career. Despite leaving more than 20 years ago, he is the all-time leading winner at Bowling Green State University. Last season, he surpassed John ‘Snooks’ Kelley as the leading winner at BC, his alma mater. On Dec. 29, 2012, York became the all-time wins leader in the history of college hockey. With a 5-2 win over the University of Alabama-Huntsville, the 925th of his career, York put the legendary Ron Mason in the rearview mirror.
In this, his 44th year at the helm of a Division I program, York has reached a milestone once thought unthinkable. Following an 8-0 win by the Eagles (16-4-3, 9-1-3 Hockey East) over the University of Massachusetts (7-13-4, 2-8-4) at the Mullins Center, York has become the first head coach in the history of college hockey to win 1,000 games. He joins nine-time Stanley Cup winner Scotty Bowman as the only hockey coaches, amateur or professional, to reach this milestone.
BC got off to a hot start, scoring five goals in the first, each one prettier than the last. Just like in last Friday’s game against BU, Ian McCoshen sparked the Eagles, this time with the first goal instead of the final one. The defenseman blasted a rocket from the blue line for his sixth of the season and third in the past week, unassisted, high over UMass goaltender Nic Reynard.
The Eagles kept the pressure on a depleted UMass defense that was missing star defenseman William Lagesson. Alex Tuch quickly followed McCoshen’s goal with a snipe off a steal from Steve Santini, rattling the twine for a top-shelf shot, his ninth of the season. Chris Calnan soon added a third goal, a quick wrister to Reynard’s left that sent the goaltender mercifully to the bench.
But his replacement, Alex Wakaluk, didn’t help the Minutemen much.
Colin White made a great move on the 5-foot-9 netminder for his 13th goal of the season. The freshman was called for a penalty not too long after, but it didn’t matter much. Miles Wood reeled in a shorthanded goal to make it 5-0. With that, UMass coach John Micheletto put Reynard back in, hoping the rest would help.
Early in the second, Austin Cangelosi had perhaps the most impressive goal of the game. During a UMass power play, the center picked the pocket of a defender at the point. He skated all the way down the ice before dishing the puck to Wood, who waited just enough for Cangelosi to join him by Reynard’s left pad.
Captain Teddy Doherty got on the scoreboard during a power play, knocking a shot through Reynard’s five-hole. It was an incredibly patient play for the BC swingman, who has shown his excellence as both a defenseman and a forward throughout his career on the Heights. Not to be outdone, Ryan Fitzgerald regained his team lead for goals, with 14, by tipping in a long pass from first semester freshman Michael Kim to make it 8-0. The third period was quiet, only delaying an inevitable seventh shutout by BC goaltender Thatcher Demko, who is now four away from the team record for shutouts in a single season.
With the game in hand, the focus turned back to #JY1K.
Instead of the battles he has had over the year with the likes of Boston University, Notre Dame, North Dakota, and other longstanding rivals, the win was just another typical game against the Minutemen. York’s Eagles have dominated them throughout his tenure in Chestnut Hill. Since York took over, BC is 52-12-4 against the Minutemen since his first season back in 1994-95, including a 7-0 win earlier this season at Kelley Rink.
But the blowouts just seem to come in milestones for York. This one looked fairly similar to his first career victory, a 13-0 win over the University of Queens while still at Clarkson.
Naturally, the coach refused any applause for this milestone accomplishment.
“It’s not part of my fabric, it’s not part of my makeup,” York said. “You leave your ego at the door, you’re a family.”
York, who is now 1,000-595-108 in his illustrious career, gave many thanks to his former players and coaches, as well as to his current staff of Mike Ayers, Greg Brown, and Marty McInnis. He also thanked his captain, Teddy Doherty, for helping keep the focus on the team instead of on his achievements.
That doesn’t mean Doherty let him forget it. The captain grabbed York the game puck before skating off the ice. He gave a speech to the team in the locker room, with many, including ESPN’s John Buccigross, a close friend of the head coach, and York’s wife, Bobbie, looking on with cheers. His only regret?
“Just wish we could’ve done it earlier,” Doherty said.
York isn’t one for praise, he never has been. The humble gentleman behind the BC bench just wants to get another win—and down the road, another trophy—for his beloved alma mater. He’s looking forward to the next 1,000, a feat that a close friend told him to go out and get now that the first 1,000 are over with.
He prefers not to look at the old games, only forward to the next ones, like Saturday’s slate against his old assistant, Mike Cavanaugh, and the University of Connecticut. After all, York, ever the sage, had some wise words for what happens when you keep taking a peek at what’s behind you.
“Otherwise I’d crash the car pretty quickly,” York said.
Now that focus can be taken off his personal accomplishments—at long last, for his sake—we can turn our attention solely back to the Eagles and their success on the ice. And with UMass Lowell’s 4-2 loss to Providence today, York would prefer to be reminded of only one thing.
BC is back in first place.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor