Saturday, December 29, 2012

BC beats Alabama-Huntsville; York tops Mason for most NCAA wins

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor 

The Boston College Eagles beat Alabama-Huntsville by a 5-2 count on Saturday night in opening-round action of the Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis, but that's not the big story.

It's a day for celebration as the inevitable finally occurred: Jerry York claimed his 925th career victory and became the NCAA's all-time winningest head coach, surpassing Ron Mason for the honor.

“Coaches coach and we play to win trophies,” a typically focused and humble York said immediately following the contest. “We came back from a long layoff and we wanted to advance to a game with Minnesota tomorrow. We’re excited about that. . . . I’ve always been about team. I haven’t really sought individual goals.”

York came into the season with 913 victories, and it was a lock that the record would fall into his hands some time this season. However, with his defending champs on an early-season tear, the record appeared ready  to be set before Christmas.

Boston University and Providence College threw a spanner into the works, as the former beat BC and York on November 30 so that York only tied Mason the following night, while the latter rallied to forge a 3-3 deadlock on December 7 to stall the festivities until action during the semester break.

Here's a quickie rundown of the scenario from Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna.

As for the game itself, the #1 school in the country seized control early on, with Cam Spiro, Bill Arnold and Danny Linell tallying in the first period. Brendan Silk added a second-period marker and Steven Whitney lit the lamp in the third. Parker Milner made 26 stops, while Kevin Hayes added a pair of assists.

“We just wanted to do it for coach,” said Milner, who showed little rust after a three-week layoff. “For all the positive energy he gives us day in and day out, we kind of owed him that win.”

The victory, and perhaps another in the Mariucci finals on Sunday against host Minnesota, came without the services of super sophomore Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau is representing Team USA in the World Junior Championships in Russia.

Jeff Vanderlugt and Craig Pierce tallied for UAH. John Griggs took the loss after being punctured for four goals on only 10 shots in just under 22 minutes of action. Gregg Gruehl finished up by yielding one score on 22 shots.

“It was almost the opposite,’’ said forward Pat Mullane when asked if pursuit of the milestone interfered with normal preparations. “I think it motivated us. He’s given us a great opportunity to play for Boston College, and everyone in the room understood that we owed it to him to get it for him as soon as possible. It’s very special to be a part of.’’

Heading into Sunday evening's matchup, York holds a 458-224-61 record in the midst of his 19th season on The Heights, and his career mark stands at 925-559-95 since 1972 when he arrived at Clarkson University.
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