GREATEST MOMENTS | Miracle? Bowling Green was just motivated in 1984


BGSU-greatest 2After being left out of the 1983 NCAA men’s hockey tournament, Bowling Green took the snub personally.

“We were pretty ticked off, because we had been ranked No. 1 most of that season,” defenseman and team captain Wayne Wilson, now the head coach at Rochester Institute of Technology, said in 2009. “The guys just had the mindset that we were going to get in this time around, and we were going to win it.”

The Falcons did just that on March 24, 1984, in Lake Placid, N.Y., on the same rink the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team created the Miracle on Ice.

In their miracle on ice, the Falcons beat Minnesota Duluth 5-4 in four overtimes, the longest game in Frozen Four history. It was the Falcons’ first and so far only national championship, and the moment judged the greatest in BGSU’s sports history. The team also made the NCAA’s 16-team Frozen Four Finest in 2014.

Gino Cavallini, a sophomore left wing, scored the winner with 2:49 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime — the game’s 97th minute and 11th second — when he took a feed from center Dan Kane, and pushed a short backhand shot past Minnesota Duluth’s freshman goalie Rick Kosti.

“I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on it, and I probably remember more about that night now than I did when it happened,” Cavallini told the Blade. “There was such a feeling of elation that it was finally over, and then the exhaustion hit. We had to just will our way through all those overtimes, fight off the fatigue and find a way to score. I can still picture that moment so clearly.”

The moments leading up to his game-winner were also memorable.

Under head coach Jerry York, now the head coach at Boston College, the Falcons won 17 consecutive games during the 1983-84 season, finishing 30-4-2. Kane (72 points on 24 goals and 48 assists) and Gary Galley (67 points on 15 goals and 52 assists) led the offense.

After losing twice in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, BGSU opened the NCAA Tournament at Boston University and lost the first game, 6-3. But they advanced with a 5-1 victory in the second game of the series, which then was determined by the two-game total (8-7, BGSU).

In the national semifinals, the Falcons beat Michigan State 2-1 to reach the final against No. 1-ranked UMD, which had been selected over BGSU for the 1983 NCAA Tournament.

The Falcons trailed UMD 4-2 in the third period when they rallied, tying the game with 1:47 remaining on one of the strangest plays in hockey history.

Wilson’s clearing shot caromed wildly off the end boards in UMD’s zone to the front of the net. Kosti, who made a tournament-record 55 saves, stepped around the post to freeze the puck but it slithered past him and was tipped home by center John Samanski, sending the game into overtime.

To this day, UMD insists icing should have been called, stopping play. Instead, the game proceeded to overtime, where Falcons freshman goalie Gary Kruzich made five game-saving saves in the third overtime. He was named the tournament’s MVP.

“The thrill of it for me is still alive,” Galley told The Blade. “We felt like we had done something very special, and not just for the team, but for the people of the town that supported us, the students, the university. Championships live on, and this one is forever entrenched with everyone associated with the Bowling Green program.”

• Bowling Green Sports Hall of Fame

 Above: Bowling Green celebrates its 1984 NCAA men’s hockey championship. (Courtesy BGSU Athletics)

Monday: Ball State and Belmont
Tuesday: Bemidji State and Boston College
Wednesday: Boston University and Bowling Green
Thursday: Brown and Bucknell
Friday: Buffalo and Cal State Bakersfield

Mike Bambach

Mike Bambach is senior web producer for ASN.