UPDATED: Terriers score five unanswered goals, trump Eagles 6-3 in Hockey East semifinals

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

There was no quit in the No. 17 Boston University men’s hockey team Friday night at TD Garden.

Thanks to five unanswered goals after the midway point in the game, the Terriers topped rival No. 4 Boston College 6-3 in the Hockey East semifinals, postponing BU coach Jack Parker’s retirement at least one more day.

“We came back from the dead, I thought,” Parker said. “The game could’ve been a lot worse after the first half of the game. But we hung in there and hung in there, and we got a little life and took advantage of it.”

With the win, BU (21-15-1) advances to the Hockey East finals Saturday night against Hockey East regular season champion No. 6 University of Massachusetts-Lowell with another win-or-go-home game. BU will not make the NCAA tournament without winning the Hockey East championship.

BC controlled play early, outshooting the Terriers 18-7 and peppering freshman goaltender Sean Maguire with high-quality scoring chances. Hockey East Player of the Year Johnny Gaudreau had Maguire beat on the doorstep with the game scoreless, but Maguire dove backward and got his glove on the shot to keep the game tied.

Maguire could not hold the Eagles scoreless for long, though. With less than a two minutes remaining in the period and the Eagles on the power play, BC forward Bill Arnold flung a shot toward Maguire and it deflected off BU defenseman Garrett Noonan’s stick and into the top corner of the net. It was Arnold’s 17th goal of the season and gave the Eagles a 1-0 advantage entering the first intermission.

BC was not done, though, as it continued to barrage Maguire with shots, taking the advantage to 29-10 at one point in the frame. Eagles captain Pat Mullane set up winger Quinn Smith for their second goal of the game 8:46 into the second, when he snapped a hard pass off Smith’s stick into the top corner on the rush.

“I thought that the game was so out of hand the first half,” Parker said. “I thought my guys were uptight, I thought we were struggling, we were losing pucks. I thought we were getting outskated.”

After Smith’s goal, though, the rest of the second period was all BU. Sophomore forward Evan Rodrigues snapped a wrist shot under BC goalie Parker Milner’s arm with 8:43 remaining in the second to bring BU within one. It was Rodrigues’ 10th point in his last nine games.

Less than two minutes later, freshman forward Matt Lane found the puck off a faceoff and chopped it off the boards past BC defenseman Danny Linell to spring himself on a breakaway. Lane calmly brought the puck to his backhand and slid it through Milner’s five-hole for the game-tying goal and his fourth goal of the season.

Lane’s line has been getting more ice time lately, and it has made use of it. The freshman winger now has points in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

“It is definitely nice,” Lane said of the extra ice time. “It gets the legs going and I think we have come a long way offensively. We have gotten better every game since we have been put together.”

Noonan did not let the momentum stop there though, as he scored his sixth goal of the season with less than three minutes remaining in the second. With BC defenseman Mike Matheson in the penalty box, Noonan took a pass from freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and drilled a one-timer to Milner’s right.

Gaudreau found himself in the penalty box early in the third period, when he earned a five-minute major for cross-checking senior defenseman Sean Escobedo from behind. Escobedo left the ice with an apparent injury, but later returned to the game.

Freshman forward Danny O’Regan capitalized on the power-play opportunity, firing a shot over Milner’s shoulder from the slot for his 15th goal of the season. Freshman defenseman Ahti Oksanen and junior forward Matt Nieto earned assists on the play. It was BU’s fourth goal in less than 10 minutes.

O’Regan was not done on the power play. With forward Steven Whitney in the penalty box later in the period, O’Regan snapped home a rebound from Nieto’s shot and gave the Terriers a three-goal lead with 11:03 remaining in the third period. BU had a good night on special teams, going 3-for-7 on the power play while holding BC to 1-for-7 on the power play.

Whitney added another goal for BC with 6:17 remaining in the third, when he chipped a puck from a bad angle over Maguire’s shoulder. However, Maguire kept the Eagles out of the net for the rest of the game, finishing with 44 saves.

Rodrigues added an shorthanded empty-net goal with 2:29 left in the third for his second goal of the game and 14th of the season to seal the BU victory.

The Terriers will now face UMass-Lowell for a chance at BU’s first Hockey East Championship since 2009. The Terriers have lost all three of their games they played against the Riverhawks this season.

“Obviously, we have played them three times and we have not been fortunate enough to get a win yet,” Lane said. “But we know them better now and we are going to be studying them tonight and tomorrow, and hopefully it will be a different outcome.”

From the FreeP: Search is on for next BU hockey coach

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

With Jack Parker’s announcement Monday that the 2012-13 season will be his 40th and final as the Boston University men’s hockey head coach, the search for his replacement has already begun.

BU Athletic Director Mike Lynch said he started contacting candidates last week, shortly after Parker made it official, but picking the coach’s successor is far from an easy task.

“You’re replacing a legend, so I think we have to do our due diligence,” Lynch said in his office Friday morning. “We have to at least review and try and get to our best possible candidate, no matter where that person is across the country. And that’s what we’re in the process of doing now.”

The process is no simple one, either. According to Lynch, a committee including himself, BU President Robert Brown, BU Provost Jean Morrison and a number of senior athletic department staffers will interview and ultimately select the next coach.

Parker will not be on the committee, but will be consulted during the process.

For more, including what Lynch is looking for in potential candidates, visit dailyfreepress.com.

Parker salutes fans after winning final home game

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

As the Boston University men’s hockey team gathered at the blue line to watch a video tribute to retiring coach Jack Parker, senior defenseman Sean Escobedo began tapping his stick on the ice, the on-ice version of applause. Within seconds, his teammates joined in, adding to the growing roar of approval for Parker after his last game at Agganis Arena.

Parker won his final home game, 5-3 over Merrimack College, in front of a spring-break-depleted crowd of just 3,043. By the time he picked up a microphone to say a few words to the fans, though, everyone left in the stands was on their feet.

“You people make it great,” Parker said, turning as he spoke to address everyone in the arena. Their cheers drowned out much of his impromptu speech, but his gratitude was clear, even though he hadn’t known he might have to speak until the microphone was in his hands.

The montage on the Agganis video board spanned Parker’s entire career, including the celebration after BU’s 2009 national championship win. After stick-saluting the fans at the other end of the ice, BU’s players returned to center ice to watch the video, faces upturned to take in the tribute to their coach.

“Personally, I was getting pretty emotional about it,” senior forward Ben Rosen said. “You really start to realize who you’re playing for and the organization you’re in, and the kind of guy that’s behind your bench every day. It just kind of gives you some extra boost and some pride in the jersey you’re wearing.”

The Terriers earned Parker at least one more game with their win Saturday, finishing off their Hockey East quarterfinal series against Merrimack, 2-0. They’ll face Boston College on Friday, March 22, at 8 p.m. in the conference semifinals at TD Garden.

From here on out, though, Parker’s career could be 60 minutes from its end on any given game day. BU has yet to secure an NCAA playoff berth, and would likely have to win the Hockey East tournament to do so.

“Everybody else loses their last game of the year,” Parker said. “And when it happens, it’s like somebody shot you in the head, because you’re going so hectic. It’s 24/7, from September to that last game. And when that last game is over, there’s no practice tomorrow. So I’ll have that same feeling that I did before. The thing now is that there’s no practice next October, you know?”

Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy went out of his way to acknowledge Parker in his postgame press conference, despite the disappointment of seeing his own team’s season end.

“I’d like to start by just saying what an honor it was to coach against Jack Parker,” Dennehy said. “The game will take an absolute hit with his departure. Pretty big shoes to fill.”

During his conference, Parker reflected on his time at BU with characteristic humor. “All good things must come to an end,” he said, and paused, appearing to grow serious.

Then he continued, “Oscar Wilde once said that, ‘Some people cause joy wherever they go. Others, whenever they go.’ So I might be – my guys might be cheering when I finish up here. You never know.”

Judging by his players’ reactions to the video tribute, though, that’s clearly not the case. Freshman forward Sam Kurker, who scored his third goal of the year Saturday, said Parker has helped him maintain his confidence during a demanding rookie season.

“I just feel so blessed and lucky to be able to play at least a year under his wing here,” Kurker said. “I get to play for a legend, and it’s too bad he is going next year, but I feel very lucky. … This year, I haven’t produced how I wanted to. He’s been here a long time and seen it happen before. He’s helped me along the way, and it’s paying off.”

Players, coaches and friends react to Parker’s retirement

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

Current players, former players and coaches alike had plenty to say about BU men’s hockey coach Jack Parker as he announced his retirement after 40 seasons. Here are some highlights, including comments from Parker’s former assistant Don “Toot” Cahoon and current players including seniors Sean Escobedo and Wade Megan, junior Garrett Noonan, and freshman Danny O’Regan.
Former UMass coach and former BU assistant Don “Toot” Cahoon
On what it’s like to see Parker call it a career: “I think he’s going to enjoy coaching down the stretch here as much as he ever enjoyed it, knowing the next recruit isn’t going to be his responsibility right now, knowing he doesn’t have to get on a plane to western Canada to close some deal.

“Just to be able to stay employed in one situation for 40 years speaks volumes about the type of character he is. But to be able to do it under the public’s eye, under the pressure he’s been in, you can’t help but tell his character, his wit, his sense of humor and his intelligence are at the highest levels. You wouldn’t survive otherwise.”

On good anecdotes involving Parker: “Most of them center around food. Jack used to always tease me. I would stop a meeting if I thought the pizza was at the door. I could think about a situation at Michigan State where we had a couple of kids with a couple of coeds from Michigan State. Jack was furious about, ‘I told these kids, no one in the room after 9 o’clock. No women in the room.’

“I go up there and there’s a couple of women in the room, and then there’s one even in the closet that I had to exit out. So Jack, being the rational guy he was, would never overreact and say, ‘This is what I’m going to do to you.’ He would say, ‘I’m going to get back to you guys.’ And then he’d come down and sort it all out so he made a good decision. So he came down to the room and I was there and he told me this story, pizza boxes up there, and all sorts of things up there, kids were partying with the girls.

“And he taps me on the shoulder. ‘So what would you do?’ I stopped him in his tracks and asked him if there was any pizza left. He never let me forget that.

“‘We’ll get to that other part, but did you bring the pizza back?’ So those are the types of things. We used to wrestle when we were younger. We’d get frustrated with a discussion and we’d just start wrestling, just like former players, but we were in our 20s at the time.” 

Former BU and NHL player Mike Grier 
On his first impression of Parker: “I thought he was pretty cool, actually. You go in his office and he is fast-talking and he is laid-back and he makes you feel comfortable. He is someone that you wanted to play for and enjoyed being around. I think he is that way today.”

On what people were saying about Parker and the program last year: “I was disappointed and a little bit upset that people were saying things about him that weren’t true, and things about the program that weren’t true. I don’t know if there is a stricter coach as far as what these kids can do and can’t do around here. I know how seriously he takes the school’s reputation. It is a little bit upsetting to hear but at the same time the people who really know what goes on here know that he did a great job and that he did all he could.”

Junior defenseman and assistant captain Garrett Noonan
On his reaction to the news: “Definitely really sad … but I’m really glad that he’ll get to enjoy his time with his grandkids. I know how much they mean to him. Coach means so much to us, and we’ll miss him so much.” 

BU sports information director Brian Kelley
On Parker’s competitive nature: “I can’t believe he’s as competitive as he is but he’s such a gracious loser. The combination is something I’ve never seen before in anybody. The best thing for me is, I know after a win or a loss he’s ready to go, ready to talk. That’s what I like the best. I can’t get over how gracious of a loser he is. He’s the same way around the opposing coach.

“He always likes to see the opposing coach again, shake hands on the ice and after the press. He’ll always stop and see them, especially at our place, even if he has to go back to the bus.”

Senior forward and captain Wade Megan
On what he’s learned from Parker: “He has taught me as much about the game of hockey as he has about life. Whether he knows that or not, a lot of the stuff that he has passed onto me is not just stuff I will use in hockey, but I’ll use it in my everyday life. I think I speak for all of the former players when I say that he is not just a hockey coach, he is a life coach. I’m just grateful that he not only gave me the opportunity to be here, but that he gave me the opportunity to be the captain of this hockey team.”

Freshman center Danny O’Regan
On only playing one year for Parker: “Coming in, I had a feeling he maybe wasn’t going to be here all four years anyway. I mean, we’ve just got to finish the year strong and hopefully win something for him.”

On his experience with Parker compared to that of his father (who played for BU in the 1980s): “I heard he has actually calmed down a lot … We kind of compare stories, and it seems like not a lot has changed, actually.”

Senior defenseman Sean Escobedo 

On what he’ll remember most about Parker: “He is definitely one of the most passionate coaches I have played for, whether it be a practice or a game. He always seems to be out of breath or something like that. Probably just being around him at practices, talking to him and getting to know him as a person away from being a head coach has been a real pleasure.”

On how Parker handled the task force: “I think he handled it the best way anyone could. He was up front with us about it, made sure that we were OK. The first thing that was always on his mind was us. He didn’t really care about himself too much. He was just making sure that we were OK, we were sticking together and that we were going to pull through this. He always remained positive with us and he made sure that we were a family and that we stayed that way.”

On Parker’s sense of humor
: “Bad recycled lines for years. He likes to use one with me, ‘I was born during the day, but not yesterday.’ Every time I try to pull a quick one on him he just throws that one at me. ‘Don’t make me laugh, I have chapped lips.’ He always uses that one. He’s got a couple good lines and he is not afraid to use them. That’s for sure.”

On what that second line means: “I don’t know. But he loves it. He’ll laugh at himself and walk away.”

Looking back: Reflecting on Jack Parker’s career as BU’s head coach

Infographic by Meredith Perri/DFP Staff

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff
It has been 40 years since Jack Parker took a head coaching job at Boston University. Since he took the job, the Cold War has ended, hockey players started wearing helmets (and facemasks, to Parker’s dismay), and his beloved Boston Red Sox finally won the World Series — twice.

Throughout those 40 years, Parker has been the one static figure with the BU hockey program. He has led the team to three national championships, coached 23 Olympians and kept the Terriers at the pinnacle of college hockey.

Parker took the head coaching job on Dec. 21, 1973, after former BU coach Leon Abbott was fired for “deliberately” evading NCAA and ECAC rules about the eligibility of two Canadian-born players. Parker inherited a team that went 11-17-1 the previous season, and led it to a 19-6 record with him behind the bench.

His early success did not stop there. He coached the Terriers to a 26-5-1 record and an ECAC championship in 1974-75, which began a streak of four consecutive ECAC championships. However, Parker briefly considered leaving for another coaching opportunity after his third season as head of the Terriers.

Parker said he was disappointed that he was not getting the raise he wanted from BU, so he considered taking an open position at Yale University. But he didn’t even make it to Yale for his interview before realizing he did not want to leave BU.

“I got on the road to go to the interview and I realized what a sham this is. I love BU,” Parker said. “I’ll never forget it. I pulled over at the Ashford Hotel — a motel on the way to New Haven — and I said, ‘Hey, I can’t come down and see you. Frankly, the only reason I went down is to get a raise from BU and it wouldn’t be fair to you.’ I knew very early on that this was the job for me.”

The return to BU worked out for Parker. He won his first national title in his fifth season behind the bench, topping cross-town rival Boston College 5-3 in the finals. It was to be the first of several for Parker, who won three national titles in his coaching tenure.

The 1980s were a bit of a dull spot in Parker’s career record-wise. The Terriers had a losing record in their conference five times and failed to make the conference tournament three times. Even with the off years, Parker still won three Beanpots and made the NCAA tournament twice.

However, Parker’s teams dominated the 1990s, as they won eight Beanpots and went to the NCAA tournament nine times. Of those nine times, he advanced to the championship game four times and won it in 1995 with future NHL stars Chris Drury, Mike Grier and Jay Pandolfo on the roster.

Moments after the national championship banner was raised into the rafters at Walter Brown Arena the following season, tragedy struck. Then-freshman Travis Roy suffered a serious spine injury 11 seconds into his first shift, leaving him a quadriplegic.

Parker called the incident a profound moment in his life.

“He’s a fabulous ambassador to this university, he’s a fabulous example of getting over adversity,” Parker said. “That was a turning point in my life, and I’m really close to him and his family and I always will be, and he’s really close to my family.”

Roy is just one of the former players Parker grew close to over his years as coach. In fact, Parker pointed to the relationships he developed with players as the thing he enjoyed most about coaching at BU. It was those relationships that helped convince him to stay at BU when the Boston Bruins offered him the head coaching position in 1997.

“I seriously thought about the Bruins job because it was an easy one to do, you know, Jackie Parker from Somerville becomes the Boston Bruins coach. That’d be pretty easy to do,” Parker said. “I kept telling myself, think beyond the press conference, get your ego out of the way, and when I told [former Bruins general manager Harry Sinden] I wasn’t taking the job, he said, ‘I knew you weren’t taking it.’

“I said, ‘What do you mean you knew? It was like a five-day ordeal, you know?’ He says, ‘Yeah, I’d imagine, but when you’re walking around BU and people say, ‘Hey, how’s it going, Coach,’ and former players say hello – that never happens here.’ That was a different world, and I don’t think I would have survived in that world.”

So Parker remained BU’s coach through the 2000s, making seven more NCAA tournaments and winning another national championship — this time in 2009. Parker’s final national championship squad earned him his third Spencer Penrose trophy as the NCAA Coach of the Year.

Some thought that Parker would retire after that season, as he had already cemented his legacy as one of the greatest college hockey coaches of all time. However, Parker was not finished.

“One of my great friends in coaching, [former Yale coach] Timmy Taylor, said to me the next season, ‘Gee, I thought you’d retire after that national championship,’” Parker said. “But we’re not doing this just to win the national championship. A lot of people would be very disappointed in their careers and in themselves if the only way they got satisfaction was to win a national championship.”

Two seasons after the national championship, Parker’s program came under scrutiny after two players were arrested in separate off-ice incidents. The incidents led to a task force investigation in his program that found a “culture of sexual entitlement” on his hockey team.

“People have asked whether this will tarnish my legacy here or will this be a bad thing for the University in the long run,” Parker said. “The only way I can put this for you is that people have their opinions of what went on. Everybody is welcome to their opinion. People who I am most concerned about know what BU hockey is all about.”

Parker is not yet finished as BU’s coach. He still has an upcoming Hockey East quarterfinals series against Merrimack College coming up at the end of this week, and will look to improve his 894-471-115 record.

If Parker is going to reach 900 career wins, his team will have to make the Frozen Four.

“I don’t really feel like I’m not the coach anymore, because I’m not yet,” Parker said. “Tomorrow I’m going to practice with these guys. We are getting ready for Merrimack. I would say the emotions will hit me later on.”

An earlier version of this post stated that Tony Amonte was part of the 1995 NCAA championship team, which is incorrect. Amonte last played for BU in 1991.

From the FreeP: Jack Parker announces retirement after 40 years as BU head coach

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

After 40 seasons as the Boston University men’s hockey coach, Jack Parker has decided it is time to sail off into the sunset.
The legendary coach, who has racked up 894 wins and three national championships, officially announced his retirement effective at the end of the season at an Agganis Arena news conference Monday afternoon, with BU Athletic Director Mike Lynch and BU President Robert Brown by his side.
“It has been a great run. I had a great time doing it,” Parker said. “I always talk about BU being a family. I’ve got two daughters and 226 sons and the team that I have here right now are my youngest sons. And I’m not going to have any more children.”
Many of those 226 sons were in attendance Monday afternoon, from members of the 2009 national championship team like John McCarthy and Colby Cohen to 1980 Olympic star Mike Eruzione to former-captain-turned-son-in-law Scott Lachance.
Eruzione, who only had one Division I program recruit him, was particularly reflective in terms of what Parker has meant to not only the men’s hockey program but the university as a whole over the last four decades.
“Just what he’s meant not only as a coach, but as a person and a friend,” Eruzione said. “You see all the former players here, from the old era to the new era, gives you indication of what he has meant to him in their lives. He’s a special man and a special person. I think we’re very fortunate that the university has him associated with us, not only hockey-wise, but the university itself.”
For more, visit dailyfreepress.com.