Jerry York creates hockey power at alma mater Boston College
Boston College coach Jerry York has 814 wins -- second only to retired Ron Mason
He has led the Eagles to eight Frozen Four appearances in the last 11 years
He was an All-America at BC and skated against the Red Army with Team USA
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Everything is in order.
The players: a Peter Pan bus full of Boston College Eagles with shaven faces, trimmed hair and neat-looking suits. Coach Jerry York's Mister Rogers attire: dress shirt, tie, sweater, sports jacket and polished dress shoes. The bus ride: 3.7 miles and a left turn over the Commonwealth Avenue T tracks into enemy territory.
Sitting on the edge of his front-row seat with a spiral notebook on his left knee and a sharpened No. 2 pencil in his right hand, York, Boston College's 800-game winner, is ready for another test. Tonight's opponent is his alma mater's bitterest rival, Boston University, coached by York's counterpart in legend, Jack Parker. It's the first Friday in December and the second-winningest coach in college hockey history has been here before. But to read his bright blue eyes, the road ahead is a fresh sheet of ice.
"It's gonna be electric," York, a three-time national champion, says as he bounds off the bus. "It's a great day to play hockey."
In this, his 37th season as a head coach York is the modern-day "Badger" Bob Johnson. The 63-year-old 's heels rarely touch the floor as he makes his way to the visitors' locker room. He stretches both legs and loosens his hips like a player prepping to enter on the next shift. With the pre-game clock counting down, his reigning national champs line up in a row -- numerically (of course) except for the two goalies in the front -- as his teams have since the early '70s. The Eagles march under the stands and onto the ice, but something's missing. Where are those welcoming words from the Terriers faithful? York hears them now.
BC sucks! BC sucks! BC sucks!
Along the blue line, each Eagle -- draped in maroon and gold -- stands with his stick in his right hand and helmet under his left arm. When the national anthem concludes, they're motionless. "Around the NHL, you'll see former Eagles in that perfectly straight posture," says onetime BC captain Ryan Shannon, a 2007 Stanley Cup winner with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
A reflection of York's work can be seen across hockey's frozen surfaces. Since being appointed the nation's youngest coach in 1972 at age 26, he has collected wins at Clarkson (125), Bowling Green (342) and for the last 15 years in Chestnut Hill (347), for a total of 814 -- 110 behind all-time leader Ron Mason. York will have a chance to add to his number on Monday when BC plays Harvard in the consolation game of the 57th annual Beanpot Tournament at TD Banknorth Garden. (As player and coach, York has been a part of five Beanpot champions.)
Among his 33 first team All-Americas, he has produced a hat trick of winners of the Hobey Baker Award -- hockey's Heisman -- and bagged a matching trio of national titles, the first coming in 1984 with Bowling Green at Lake Placid, N.Y. Watching the Falcons beat Minnesota-Duluth on television from a hotel room in an NHL city, George McPhee, a Baker winner under York the year before, saw former teammates celebrate and his understated coach step to the side. Most of the people in the photos were jumping for joy, notes McPhee, now the Washington Capitals general manager. He adds, "Out of the frame was the best man."
On this night in Boston, after all the slashing, hooking, cross-checking and boarding, the game ends in a 1-1 tie. In a quiet moment, York leaves the press room as Parker enters. "The rivalry's at its height," says York, who has 15 more career wins than the man who has coached the Terriers since 1973.
Balding, bespectacled and typically barking, Parker, who is 106 days older than York, quips, "They should just throw down the puck with us two on the ice."
York's lips curl into a smile, his cheeks redden and he says, "Oh, Jack."