March 29, 2012

Hockey East Journal: Eagles unbeatable in gold sweaters

By Andrew Merritt

One of the perks of being Jerry York (Watertown, Mass.) is that you get to pick the jerseys your team will wear each game. 

Johnny Gaudreau and the Eagles are 8-0 this year when they wear their gold jerseys. (Dave Arnold Photography)

Eight times this year, the Boston College coach has selected the muted gold sweaters the Eagles wore at Frozen Fenway. Eight times, the Eagles have won.

Before we suggest there’s any magic in the Under Armour jerseys, with their matte finish and plain lettering and numbering, let’s remember that not much has stopped the Eagles from winning over the last few months. BC enters next week’s Frozen Four on a 17-game win streak, the longest in the nation, and has done just as well in the white home jerseys and maroon road sweaters.

All that said, it’s hard not to notice that the Eagles have been perfect in the new-school garments with the old-school feel. Not only that, York has sent his charges into the fray wearing the third/alternate/throwbacks in some very big games.

They debuted the jerseys at Fenway Park, where they beat the also-nattily dressed Northeastern Huskies in their 1980s halcyon days throwbacks.

A month later, the Eagles captured their third straight Beanpot title at TD Garden while wearing “the golds,” as captain Tommy Cross (Simsbury, Conn.) called them, beating rival BU in an overtime thriller.

One month after that, it was a similar scene as the Eagles crowded around each other in the golds to celebrate their third straight Hockey East title, walking past Maine 4-1. On Sunday, the Eagles punched their ticket to the Frozen Four with an emphatic 4-0 victory over defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth, and it was another sea of gold and maroon on the ice, this time at Worcester’s DCU Center.

All told, the Eagles are 8-0 in the gold jerseys.

“Yeah, we’ve never lost in them!” York said after Sunday’s Northeast Regional final in Worcester.

The jerseys were the brainchild of Jack Cadagan, a 1958 BC alum who captained the Eagles in his senior season. When he heard BC was going to play at Fenway Park, he asked York if the team had a special jersey for the occasion, as many teams have for the recent spate of outdoor games. York told him they hadn’t come up with one.

“He said, ‘well I’d like to make a donation to get a special jersey,’” York said. “So we went back to an old jersey BC used to wear. They were white when we wore them, we got the gold in.”

They were an instant hit with the players, if the wide-eyed look on Cross’ face when he was asked about them is any indication.

“I never thought we’d get the golds going, but Under Armour helped, Under Armour got it going,” Cross said, though he wouldn’t go so far as to call them a reason for the Eagles’ late-season surge.

“No, we love them, they look good, but if we’re wearing the whites or the maroons, don’t matter, we’ll wear whatever,” he said.

He’s got some time to decide, but with at least one more very big game on the schedule, it seems reasonable to think York is going to consider the golds when the Eagles take the ice in Tampa on April 5 for the semifinal against Minnesota.

“We’ve got to keep wearing those suckers,” York said, launching into what sounds an awful lot like a locker-room-wall motto.

“What do we wear? We wear gold.”

Games of the Week

2012 Frozen Four
Tampa, Fla.
All games on ESPN2

Thursday, April 5
Union vs. Ferris State, 4:30 p.m.
Boston College vs. Minnesota, 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 7
Union/Ferris State winner vs. BC/Minnesota winner, 7 p.m.

Hockey East power rankings

1. Boston College (31-10-1, 19-7-1 HEA) – A year after crashing out of the NCAA tournament in the first round, the Eagles are the only New England team still standing, and are looking to end their season on a 19-game winning streak that would include their second national title in three years.

2. Maine (23-14-3, 15-10-2 HEA) – The season came to a close for the Black Bears with a 5-2 loss to Minnesota-Duluth, the defending national champions, in the Northeast Regional semifinal in Worcester. Not long after, senior Spencer Abbott signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs and was named a Hobey Hat Trick finalist, Brian Flynn (Lynnfield, Mass.) signed with the Buffalo Sabres, and Will O’Neill signed with the Winnipeg Jets.

3. UMass-Lowell (24-13-1, 17-9-1 HEA) – The River Hawks had one more win up their sleeves, toppling Miami in overtime for the program’s first-ever Division 1 NCAA tournament victory before falling to Union in the East Regional final.

4. Boston University (23-15-1, 17-9-1 HEA) – An up-and-down year finally came to an end for BU, which gave up two empty-netters in a 7-3 loss to Minnesota in the West Regional semifinals. A few days later, forward Alex Chiasson opted out of his final year of eligibility, signing with the Dallas Stars organization.

5. Merrimack (18-12-7, 13-9-5 HEA) – Defenseman Karl Stollery (Lake Erie), Ryan Flanigan (Hamilton) and Jesse Todd (Hamilton) all signed contracts with AHL teams following their senior season, joining new Vancouver goaltender Joe Cannata (Wakefield, Mass.) in the pro ranks.

6. New Hampshire (15-19-3, 11-14-2 HEA) – Stevie Moses (Leominster, Mass.) signed with the AHL’s Connecticut Whale following his stellar senior season, and Damon Kipp went south to the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.

7. Providence (14-20-4, 10-14-3 HEA) - Think head coach Nate Leaman might be regretting leaving Union? Providence should be proud of the strides they made this season in Leaman's first year at the helm, but the coach's former squad is headed to the Frozen Four. 

8. UMass (13-18-5, 9-14-4 HEA) – Senior defenseman Michael Marcou signed an amateur tryout agreement with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons on March 29.

9. Northeastern (13-16-5, 9-14-4 HEA) – A tough year has already given way to a difficult offseason for the Huskies. South Portland, Maine, native Jon Gillies asked to be released from his letter of intent for next season after the Indiana Ice goaltender found out NU’s Chris Rawlings will return for his senior season. The worse news is the departure of defenseman Anthony Bitetto, a hard-charging blueliner who opted out of his final two years on Huntington Avenue in favor of a pro contract with Nashville.

10. Vermont (6-27-1, 3-23-1 HEA) After scoring in his pro debut, former UVM standout Sebastian Stalberg has been held without a point in his last games. His team, the Worcester Sharks, lost both games.

Andrew Merritt can be reached at MerrittNEHJ@gmail.com.