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York walking the walk behind the BC bench

by Bob Snow
Getting Jerry York to talk about his contributions to the success at Boston College since his arrival as coach in 1994-95 is like trying to get a politician not to talk.

York-speak always goes something like this: "I feel good. We're not going to vary much from our guidelines. Our leadership is solid."

Or: "There are not a lot of egos on the club. I like the looks of it -- pretty deep and solid in all positions."

Never much about Jerry York. Always about his team.

Check the facts about the 63-year-old coach, a BC alum with local roots entering his 37th season behind three benches. All his teams do is win. So many wins by York -- not including his biggest in beating prostate cancer a few years ago -- that he now has a career total of 805.

Considering former Michigan State coach Ron Mason's all-time record of 926, York is on pace to become the all-time NCAA winning coach in three or four seasons.

Three of York's most memorable wins were national titles -- with Bowling Green in 1985, and at BC in 2001 and 2008.

His four most crushing defeats were championship-game losses in 1998 to Michigan, in 2000 to North Dakota, in 2006 to Wisconsin, and in 2007 to Michigan State. The Eagles led in each.

Cutting his coaching teeth at Clarkson from 1972 to 1979 before the Bowling Green run, only York and the late Ned Harkness (RPI and Cornell) have won titles at two schools.

If BC gets a win in a semifinal game this April at the 2009 Frozen Four, York's team will take the ice in an NCAA-record fourth consecutive title game. Only BC, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Lake Superior State have accomplished 3 consecutive appearances.

The Eagles have been to the Frozen Four eight times since '98.

"He got the opportunity to coach at Boston College," said arch-rival Jack Parker, whose 785 wins at BU give him legendary status with most wins at one school and third all-time. "BC always attracts good players. He's attracted even better players. When you get those types of players with the type of character he demands, you have a chance to win championships year after year. He's done a great job that way. "

Those "types" include a long list: Mike Mottau, Brian Gionta, Ryan Shannon, Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi, Andrew Alberts, Nathan Gerbe, and last year's senior captain Mike Brennan.

Orpik and Scuderi patrol the Penguins' blue line; both assumed the same role at BC when the Eagles won it all in 2001 against North Dakota in OT with Gionta as captain. 

"The biggest thing he preaches is the development of all his guys as people more so than hockey," said Orpik, whose younger brother Andrew is also cut from the family genes of blue-line size, strength and intimidation. He, like his brother, won it all the junior year last season with a shot at making NCAA history his senior year. 

"Look at the guys he brings and pushes out," said Orpik. "Ninety-nine percent of the people are good guys and good hockey players. The discipline he demands off the ice carries onto the ice."

"I though everyone started to jell the year I came," said Scuderi about the York effect. Scuderi played in 3 title games, and was named to the All-Tournament Team in 2001. "When the chemistry is good, it makes it easier to play for each other. That was the best thing by far. His passion might not be visible, but it's there. I think when he stays calm behind the bench, it radiates to the players."

"After going 1-5-1 down the stretch in Hockey East, and after disciplining their best defenseman off the team, and after losing a top forward to injury in Brock Bradford, I don't think Jerry gets anywhere near the credit he deserves from last year," said Parker about York's ability to shift course in mid-stream, and against whom Parker played when BU and BC went at it in the '60s in college hockey's most historic and heated rivalry.

That 1-5-1 February freeze was followed by a 9-0-0 March melt to the title.

"We get on the same page at the right time," said Brennan last April before the title game, and about York's coaching prowess when the chips are on the line.

"He's a fierce competitor," says New Hampshire coach Dick Umile. "If you're not ready when you play them, you're in real trouble. He does all the little things, the details. He gets good players, but somebody has to be the boss and put all that together."

"Day in and day out, rain or sun, his attitude is always positive," said Orpik. "This time of year, he has that excited look in his eye and a smile on his face. Sometimes, he does have those nights when he's really upset. He gets his message across, but as a team we need to hold each other accountable."

For York, his accountability started in the Boston suburb of Watertown, where he grew up among 10 children, and still starts each day at the local donut shop for a coffee and a chat with the locals.

"No ego here," York quipped. "That comes pretty easy being one of 10 children. I know how close success and defeat is. It's a thin, thin line."

Now, you're talking, Jerry.

"He's a good guy," said Parker.

And a great coach.

On Campus Clips -- NCAA history was equaled and possibly surpassed last Friday night in Minnesota State's 5-1 thumping of North Dakota. MSU's Zach Harrison tied the record with six others in recording the purest of hat tricks: 3 shorthanded goals. Even more amazing, however, is that all 3 goals were consecutive. ... Ivy League teams swing into action with exhibition play this weekend, and then open ECACHL play next weekend; the 6 teams maintain a Nov. 1 opening to keep the focus on a strong academic start. ... Northeastern handed defending champion Boston College its first loss since last March 8 with a 4-3 win at sold-out Mathews Arena. It was the Huskies' homecoming weekend. ... Air Force and Colorado College share equal 4-0 records, tops across the 58 teams entering the last weekend of October. ... At the other end, Wisconsin, Sacred Heart and Bemidji State are all mired in 0-4-0 starts.'s Top 10

1. Colorado College (4-0-0)
2. Denver (3-0-0)
3. New Hampshire (3-0-0)
4. Michigan (3-1-0)
5. Boston College (2-1-0)
6. Boston University (3-1-0)
7. Minnesota (2-0-0)
8. Minnesota State (3-1-0)
9. Northeastern (3-0-1)
10. Notre Dame (2-1-0)

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