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BU's rock keeps rolling along

by Bob Snow
Last March 29, Boston University's legendary Jack Parker sat alone atop the media stage at the Northeast Regional; his Terriers had just completed a 2-1 win against New Hampshire to advance to the Frozen Four in Washington, D.C.

That victory also put Parker alone atop three major postseason marks: 23 NCAA tournament appearances, 27 tournament wins, and 13 Frozen Four appearances.

"What a drag it is getting old," quipped Parker in reaction to such lofty stature. "I've been around a long time, had real good assistant coaches who get real good players. We've had a lot of success because Boston University wants to be successful at this sport."

Two weeks later, BU's rolling stone ended his 36th year with his 816th career victory, a scintillating come-from-behind 4-3 overtime against Miami. The Terriers trailed 3-1 with one minute remaining in regulation.

That win also established the mark for most wins in one BU season at 35. (Parker later was honored as Division I Coach of the Year with the Spencer Penrose Award.)

Back atop the media stage in the nation's capital, Parker said about his third championship: "Wow. What a hockey game. What a finish. All I can think of is it's the greatest comeback game I've been involved in. The only thing I can say, we won that game because big-time players make big-time plays.

"Is it four decades? I feel like Ted Williams; he played four decades."

If Ted Williams is known as the "best hitter who ever lived" in Boston's storied sports lore, then Parker, a rabid Red Sox fan, likely will go down as the best college hockey coach in Beantown and NCAA history. Most assuredly at one school. In career wins, only Michigan's Red Berenson is remotely close at 675.

Last week, BU raised its third banner at Jack Parker Rink in Agganis Arena before an exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 Team.

Don't look for Parker's reference to a Mick Jagger lyric to be associated with any "R" parties in his honor too soon.

"They're not going to carry me out sideways," Parker told about retirement. "At least I hope. It's probably a two-year lookout. 'Am I going to retire in two years? No.' When I decide, it will be two years hence with no notice, but made up in my own mind. But that's a while off."

What keeps Parker gathering no moss at his alma mater, where he captained the 1968 team?

"The new rink has invigorated me and that does give better opportunities to recruit," he said. "The relationship you have with the players; it keeps you young. And I'm still a competitive guy.

"I have two daughters and 200 sons. We are family and we do go through a lot together over the relationship. Frankly, that's the best part of the job."

Those "sons" have surnames like Eruzione and O'Callahan from the 1970s, Amonte and Sacco from the '80s, Drury and Pandolfo from the '90s, and Gilroy and Shattenkirk from 2009.

The chorus about Parker's keys to success over so many years -- and his place in hockey history -- is rooted in consistent quotes and themes across all of his teams.

Brian Durocher shared the goalie duties with Jim Craig on the 1978 championship team; he was Parker's assistant until taking over as BU's women's hockey coach in 2004.

"What BU has with Jack," said Durocher, "is a 35- or 36-year constant that makes life easier for players, staff, alums, recruiting, benefactors. We know who's there and who runs the show. He went from kind of the dictator in the mid to late '70s because he followed Jack Kelley. But over time, he's brought in people from the outside -- some non-BU guys who helped him and showed him that things can be done a different way. Now I see Jack more of the guy who facilitates, distributes assignments. And he's gotten to know the kids at a different level. The BU tradition was to win it all. And (1978) was the year Jack lost his wife, Phyllis. I think maybe that was something that carried on to us to get it done those last few games."

"Of all the coaches I have ever played for, he is the best at preparing a team for one big game," said Minnesota Wild scout Chris Kelleher, a member of the 1995 title team. "He made us believe that we were going to win that title.
"He is not only a great coach, but a great person, and he knows how to be your coach when you are in the locker room or on the ice, but he is a friend when you are away from the rink, and he knows how to separate the two, which to a player is important."

"I came here because of him," said BU captain Kevin Shattenkirk, echoing many players who came before him. "When I first sat down with him during recruiting, it was pretty surreal -- seeing him in front of me and wanting me to come to his school.

"Being a part of a BU hockey team really grabbed me. He preaches to be here not only for the season but also for the reason: enjoy college, get an education, and take care of the little things in life. It leads to good things in life."

Friday night, the Terriers open defense of their title at Massachusetts.

"(After) the banner is raised," Parker said, "nobody's the No. 1 team in the nation this year until somebody wins it all this April. The challenge of the coaching staff and captains is to get the players to realize that that was then and this is now."

It's been that way behind the BU bench since 1973. 

Chargers make a statement -- The four-team College Hockey America League is in its final season. The Alabama-Huntsville Chargers currently are the only team without a league home a year hence after a series of votes over the summer by the WCHA to admit Bemidji State and Atlantic Hockey's acceptance of Robert Morris and Niagara next season.

Denied preliminary entrance by a CCHA vote a few months back, the Chargers had the CCHA's No. 5-ranked Notre Dame for two games on the road to open the season. The Fighting Irish played in the 2008 title game.

Friday night, Cody Campbell scored a power-play goal with five seconds left in regulation time to lift Alabama-Huntsville to a 3-2 win.

"There's one way to play hockey, and that's the way you should play it," Alabama-Huntsville coach Danton Cole told "We haven't talked about (the off-season vote) at all. It's irrelevant. If you can't get up to play Notre Dame on their ice ..." Cole trailed off.

The Fighting Irish turned the tables Saturday night, 3-1.

Ford Field reconfigured -- Ford Field in Detroit will have a different look for the Frozen Four, which should result in an attendance record. A new seating configuration will be utilized for the 2010 NCAA Men's Frozen Four, set for April 8 and 10 at the home of the NFL's Detroit Lions.

The new configuration will take the overall capacity for the event to just over 36,000. The current record attendance for a Frozen Four game is 19,432, at the 2007 championship game at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, where Michigan State defeated Boston College, 3-1.
Purple Eagle pedigree -- The Niagara Purple Eagles started the new season last weekend with NHL playoff lore and Lord Stanley lineage across the team's upstate pine. Dave Hannan played for the Sabres in the early '90s, and scored the game-winning goal in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against New Jersey in 1994, one of the longest games in NHL and Sabres history (four overtimes). Hannan also won two Stanley Cups (Edmonton and Colorado). His son, Jeff, is an incoming freshman for the Purple Eagles.

Senior Egor Mironov's father, Dmitri, won a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 1998.

On Campus Clips -- Sacred Heart last week named Yale assistant coach C.J. Marottolo, as the Pioneers' new coach. ... Winners of two of last weekend kickoff tournaments include Michigan over Alaska-Anchorage, 6-1, in the Kendall Hockey Classic final, and Lake State over Michigan Tech, 3-1, in the Superior Showcase. ... Twenty student athletes who excel on and off the ice are nominated for the 2009-10 Lowe's Senior CLASS (Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School) Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence -- classroom, character, community and competition. The complete list of candidates: Jean-Marc Beaudoin (Quinnipiac), Peter Boldt (Dartmouth), Andrew Braithwaite (Merrimack), Cody Chupp (Ferris State), Ryan Donald (Yale), Matt Fairchild (Air Force), Chay Genoway (North Dakota), Barry Goers (UMass-Lowell), Colin Greening (Cornell), Dion Knelsen (Alaska Fairbanks), Andrew Loewen (Canisius), David McIntyre (Colgate), Martin Nolet (Massachusetts), Garrett Raboin (St. Cloud State), Rhett Rakhshani (Denver), Dan Ringwald (Rochester Institute of Technology), Chris Summers (Michigan), Ryan Thang (Notre Dame), Eli Vlaisavljevich (Michigan Tech), Brett Watson (Massachusetts). ... Key games this weekend include BU at Massachusetts, Minnesota at North Dakota, and Miami at New Hampshire.

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