Coaching milestone at stake for BC’s Jerry York in Friday’s battle of Beantown

COLLEGE HOCKEY NIGHT IN AMERICA FRIDAY ON ASN: Boston University at Boston College, 6 p.m. ET;  Western Michigan at Denver, 9:30 p.m. ET (click logo for local listings)

Before the start of tonight’s Boston University-Boston College game it would be fitting for the announcer to take a page from the penalty kill and tell everyone “both teams at full strength!”


The 268th meeting in the Battle of Comm Ave. is the first of a college hockey night in America doubleheader Friday on ASN starting at 6 p.m. ET. NCHC rivals Denver and Western Michigan meet in the nightcap at 9:30 ET.

If ever a game was a made-for-TV event, the Beantown rivalry may be it.

Flush with storylines ranging from bragging rights for the players who know each other, to both teams reloading with new players after the holiday break and key players returning from injury, a sweep by either team would solidify their PairWise rankings and potentially put the loser on the PairWise bubble.

And if that’s not enough, Boston College coach Jerry York can reach a milestone never seen in college hockey before: A sweep would give him 1,000 wins for his career. He currently stands at 998-595-107 over a 44-year career that started at Clarkson and given him the chance to make history coaching for his alma mater. York graduated from BC in 1967.

If you took all the minutes he has spent behind a hockey bench and put them together it would span nearly 71 days. That’s not counting overtimes, either, just 60 minutes for all 1,700 games he’s coached entering Friday night’s Battle of Comm Ave.

Think about how much has changed since 1972:

  • The average cost of a new home was $27,550.
  • The median income was $11,800.
  • Rent averaged $165.
  • Gas at the pumps was 55 cents a gallon.
  • Don McLean released “American Pie” and Michael Jackson scored an Oscar hit with “Ben.”
  • The Watergate scandal was growing.
  • One of Boston’s favorite sons, actor Ben Affleck, was born.

And Atari started the video game revolution with … PONG.

Deep breath if you remember all of that.

York declined to talk about the possible milestone, but the feat isn’t lost on his team, nor is his silence on the subject.

“He just takes everything week to week,” BC freshman forward Colin White said. “It’s been an honor to play for him. He’s coached so many great players, it’s special to be a part of this tradition. It would be great if we could get him the 1,000th win this weekend, especially since it would come against BU.”

White will be getting his first taste of the rivalry Friday night, another highlight of a whirlwind freshman season for the 21st pick of last year’s draft (chosen by the Ottawa Senators).

He didn’t return from helping Team USA win bronze medal at the World Juniors in Helskini, Finland, until late last Wednesday night. After sleeping all of last Thursday, he joined a morning skate around Friday to meet new teammates Ian Milosz, a 6-foot-7 goalie and defenseman Michael Kim who joined the team before the Florida College Hockey Classic. Both were expected to join the team next season, but were brought in because of injuries and the unexpected departure of Jeremy Bracco.

“It was kind of crazy to meet new teammates after the break but they fit in well,” White said.

Later that night he helped the Eagles snap a three-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory over Hockey East rival Providence, scoring his first hat trick at BC.

Saturday, jet lag set in and he played about 11 minutes in the 4-4 tie, and York held him of practice until Tuesday this week.

“It was a pretty quick turnaround and it just got to me,” York said. “Coach saw my legs were dead on Saturday so I didn’t play too much. I think (this weekend) is the first time we will really be at full strength.”

BC goalie Thatcher Demko is expected to return to the nets after missing last weekend’s series with an injury. He ranks sixth in the nation in goals against average (1.72) and eighth in save percentage (.936) on the year and second in overall shut outs with six.

But this is not just about BC and beating — let alone sweeping — Boston University. The Terriers figure to be a handful for any foe down the stretch.

Since splitting with Vermont in early December the Terriers (11-6-3 and 14th in PairWise) have handed Quinnipiac, No. 1 PairWise, its only loss of the season (4-1), derailed No. 4 (PairWise) Harvard, 6-5, and rolled No. 13 Mass-Lowell, 7-2.

The Terriers also added talent after the holiday break. Winger Oska Andren of Stockholm, Sweden, and Erik Udal of East Walpole give the team added depth and all players are finally healthy.

What’s more, four of BC’s players also got some rest after competing in the World Juniors. Sophomore defenseman Brandon Hickey played for Canada; freshman forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson for Sweden; and freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy and sophomore defense Brandon Forunato played for Team USA.

The cupboard is getting more full, too. Four of BU’s recruits for next season, including defenseman Chad Krys who also played for Team USA at the world juniors, are projected to be first-round picks in the upcoming NHL draft.

Storylines, history.

It’s all about Beantown Friday night on ASN.

Winningest college coaches

Boston College’s Jerry York can be the first men’s hockey coach to reach the 1,000-win plateau this weekend with a sweep against Boston University. The winningest college coaches in other major sports:

Coach Sport Wins
Jerry York Men’s hockey 998
Joe Paterno Football 409
Mike Krzyzewski Men’s basketball 1,032
Pat Summit Women’s basketball 1,098
Above: Boston College coach Jerry York goes for his 1,000th career victory this weekend. (Courtesy John Quackenbos/Boston College)

Dave Dondoneau

Dave Dondoneau is a freelance writer based in Honolulu