Friday, January 8, 2010

The Best Rivalry in College Hockey

Boston College and Boston University are just three miles apart - on the same trolley ride no less. They've played hockey against each other a remarkable 247 times dating back to 1917. Later today they'll face off outdoors at Fenway Park for the first time ever.

Throughout their nearly 100-year rivalry, several players with current or former ties to the LA Kings have played on both sides of the battle.

Last summer's free agent addition, Rob Scuderi, was a BC Eagle for four years. Scuds was an iron man, playing more games in a BC sweater than any other player in team history. He was also there during a great run, going to the NCAA hockey championship game three of his four years (!), finally winning it all in 2001, his final season.

The always versatile Peter Harrold also played four years at BC. He served as the team captain his senior year of 2005-06 and was named first team all American on defense.

A college hockey game at Fenway isn't just the latest big game of the week because it's being played outdoors. This is a match-up of the last two NCAA national champions, BU last year and BC the year prior.

For Boston University it was their fifth title, trumping BC's three championships.

The man behind the bench today for BC, Jerry York, was also there for those three championships. He took over as coach of BC, his alma mater, in June 1994. Prior to that he coached at Clarkson and then Bowling Green - where he coached former Kings Rob Blake and Dan Bylsma.

York has had nine players selected in the first round of the NHL draft while heading BC's hockey program - including when the Kings drafted Brian Boyle in 2003.

He'll be trying to outwit another college hockey coaching legend, Jack Parker. He's been at the helm of BU for 37 years, sending 19 players to the Olympics, including four from the famous 1980 USA team - Mike Eruzione, Dave Silk, Jack O'Callahan and Jim Craig.

Another of Parker's star players moving on to international success with Team USA was Tony Amonte.

However, it was a BU game that Amonte says was "definitely the most memorable game for me throughout my whole career." And some game it was, a game that many call the greatest college hockey game of all-time. It was his last college game and it was for the 1991 NCAA title. With BU down 7-4 and less than eight minutes to go, he scored on a pass from former Kings forward Shawn McEachern. A few minutes later Amonte returned the favor, setting up McEachern for a goal. With 39 seconds left in the game BU would tie it. Sadly, they lost in OT, giving Northern Michigan its only national championship.

Nearly as disappointing to the BU loyal was the 1980 Beanpot final. For those unfamiliar, the Beanpot is an annual tournament featuring four Boston area teams - BU, BC, Northeastern and Harvard. First established in 1952, the February tournament grew in popularity to where it was eventually contested at Boston Garden (and is now played at TD Garden, the new home to the Bruins). BU has won the Beanpot 29 times, more than double the team with the second most wins (BC with 14). However, in 1980 they lost 5-4, giving Northeastern their first ever Beanpot trophy. A situation that Eruzione later joked about saying "There were actually two miracles that year."

The event at Fenway will surely be the most remembered game between the two since they met for the NCAA championship in 1978, the only time they've met with the title on the line. BU won that day 5-3.

Like the just completed World Jr's tourney, tonight's game will feature several potential NHL stars of the future. For example, Chris Kreider is expected to be back for BC after just winning a gold medal with Team USA at the WJC. Three of his teammates were also drafted by NHL teams...and nine more on the BU roster, including the Colorado Avalanche's first and second round picks from 2007 - Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen.

For some more LA flavor, take a look at the Kings alum that played for either institution:

Boston University - Peter Ahola (played 70 games on D for the Kings back in 1991-93), Rich Brennan (2 games, 2000-01 season), Paul Fenton (92 games, 87-88) and Shawn McEachern (49 games, 93-94).

Boston College - Brian Boyle (36 games, 2007-09), Jeff Giuliano (101 games, 2005-08), Steve Heinze, Billy O'Dwyer (18 games, 1983-85) and Kevin Stevens.

Perhaps a few of those guys, along with Harrold and Scuderi, will be so excited for the Fenway game they'll order one of the special BC jerseys the team will wear just this one time (pictured above). To commemorate the event, they've added a little Fenway green to the striping on their jersey. That's a nice touch.

See the jersey, Fenway Park and these two legendary teams square off on the NHL Network today at 4:30 pm PST.

BU vs. BC. Great rivals almost always produce great games.

The Mayor

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