BC Eagles win national championship

BRIGHTON -- The Boston College hockey team, which began its season Oct. 12 with an overtime loss to the University of Michigan in Minnesota ended its season six months later on April 12 with a 4-1 championship win over the University of Notre Dame. The 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Frozen Four was held at the Pepsi Arena in Denver, Co.

The intervening six months saw some spurts and starts, the steamrolling seemed to have begun in mid-January, sped up with bringing home the coveted Beanpot to Chestnut Hill, kept rolling to the much more intense Hockey East playoffs and championship there, and then to the NCCA regional and finally to Denver.

The BC Eagles’ hockey team is coached by alumnus Jerry York and by all accounts he runs a tight ship which has resulted in an amazingly cohesive team of players. The players come from a number of states and a few Canadian provinces. All four years of the college are ably represented. Among BC’s most interesting players to watch is the diminutive (in stature, not statistics) Nathan Gerbe. The BC junior and Michigan native, listed at 5’ 5”, 165 lbs. notched a number of records in the BC hockey annals. At 6’ 3” and 205 lbs. another Midwesterner and teammate Carl Sneep towers over Gerbe. He and fellow defensemen contribute some of the power that helps Gerbe and other forwards have room to move on the ice. Freshman goalie John Muse hailing from Falmouth guarded the net with more poise and performance than you might expect for an underclassman.

The season-long hours of practice, the tedious travels and the delicate balancing of academic expectations and athletic performance gave way to the exhilarating thrill of victory and the bringing home of the third trophy of the season, the NCAA National Championship.

The team arrived back at BC on April 13 to an impromptu but rousing welcome at their home -- Kelly Rink at Conte Forum on the Chestnut Hill campus. On the following night a much more organized and campus wide celebration brought students, faculty and staff once again to Conte to continue the salute. Players were granting autographs and interviews; Coach York gave a well-received speech in which he reminded the players that they are role models and that everyday in the dorm troom, classroom or on the ice is important. BC President Father William Leahy, SJ, welcomed all and Team Captain Mike Brennan spoke for the team about their admiration for the coach and their coming together for the late season surge.

The Eagles returned to the scene of a mid-season triumph -- the Boston Garden -- for an on ice celebration at the Bruins-Canadiens game on April 15. With not much rest for the weary, players now have to return to prep mode as exams for the end of the semester begin at the Heights in just about three weeks.

The team’s final formal salute will be at the annual awards dinner April 20 at the Westin Hotel in Waltham.

Congratulations to Coach York, his assistant coaches, support staff and Eagle players on a great season.