True to his genuine, humble character, Boston College hockey coach Jerry York got a little embarrassed when the postgame questioning turned to the record.
York won the 924th game of his collegiate coaching career on Saturday night as his Boston College Eagles dispatched arch-rival Boston University in a 5-2 game at Kelley Rink. The victory was as significant as any in the storied BCBU rivalry, but it also pushed York into a tie with former Michigan State coach Ron Mason for the all-time NCAA coaching wins record.
York was clearly touched by the Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! chants once the game had ended, and the warm congratulatory handshake from friendrival Jack Parker after the record was securely tied. But the Eagles coach was hoping to simply break down the big Hockey East win and keep his eye trained on the task ahead.
He deserves all of the accolades. Its hard for people to believe this because hes been so successful and because hes won so many games, but I still dont think he gets the credit he deserves, said BU coach Jack Parker, who has nearly 900 coaching wins himself. Hes a coach that has run great programs in three different places, and hes done an unbelievable job taking BC to places theyve never been before.
Theyve had two other coaches that have had over 500 wins, so that means theres been a lot of great hockey played here for a long, long time. Hes the best theyve ever had here and I dont think Jerry gets the credit he deserves. Theyve had good coaches. They get good players. Well, a lot of teams get good players. But this team at BC is well-coached in every phase of the game.
It would be criminal to underrate a hockey coach that's made a career out of doing it "the right way." So it's time to give a coaching legend his due -- one thats become synonymous with Boston College and the local hockey scene since taking over the programs reigns in 1994. Its about the four national championships since 2001 and Yorks automatic inclusion into a rare club known as the greatest coaches in the history of college hockey even before Saturday night's historic triumph was secured.
His current players understood that and were trying to get York the record-tying AND record-breaking win this weekend, but instead settled for netting the record-tying 924th victory Saturday night on home ice.
Its an honor to be able to be a part of this experience and to be able to play for Coach York at Boston College, said Boston College junior center Bill Arnold, who potted a pair of goals in the 924th win for York. He wont talk about it, but hes obviously changed everybody on the teams lives. So to be able to give something back to him and get this all-time record for him is something that we wanted to do.
Theres no such thing as selfishness or a me-first attitude here at BC. Its everything for the people and the university.
Even more impressive than the record is the graceful, gentlemanly way that York achieved it. The dean of Boston College hockey has never needed to stoop to self-promotion or making empty promises to players hes hoping to recruit. Instead York has set a standard for elite college hockey players on and off the ice, and consistently produces intelligent, worldly leaders in the hockey world that can also play the game at the highest level.
Hes also had some pretty good guys lace em up to get to 924 wins, of course. The steady stream of excellent talent dates back to Dave Taylors time in Clarkson and defenseman Rob Blake with Bowling Green. That was before his time at the Heights when he had Brian Gionta leading a new wave of undersized, super-skilled forwards that have ushered in a generation of dominance for the Eagles.
It always impressed this hockey writer that an accomplished college hockey coach like University of Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves would send both of his hockey-playing sons -- Ben and Patrick -- to the Heights to play for York. That says more than words ever could about York's integrity and his ability to help shape hockey-playing boys into responsible, team-oriented men.
But thats exactly what happens when you teach the game of hockey with love for the sport and respect for your opponents. Perhaps there have been times when others have underestimated York because of his friendly, folksy manner or because of the talented players consistently shuffling in and out of Chestnut Hill.
But, as Parker has said about his oldest friend and rival, anybody can get a few good players as recruits. Its York that knows how to shape teams once he has all the players in place, and gets the absolute most production out of the oodles of talent on his Boston College roster. He's come a long way from the young man that started off as a young, hungry coach at Clarkson University.
I try to block everything out because its so important to stay in the moment. But sometimes when I get a chance to reflect I started pretty slow at Clarkson, and I wasnt sure if Id even be able to stay in this profession, said York. Then Dave Taylor came to Clarkson and really helped change things around for me. I really think about the players when I think of 924 wins..
Rob Blake joined us at Bowling Green and then Brian Gionta here at Boston College with some really top end guys like Nathan Gerbe afterward. It always goes back to the players, and really good players that want to be a part of a team.
Even just in the last 10 years the list of BC players that have gone on to NHL careers is healthy: The Gionta brothers, Gerbe, Brian Boyle, Mike Mottau, Cory Schneider, Rob Scuderi, Andrew Alberts, Peter Harrold and Patrick Eaves among others.
Some years are better than others, but there are a few things that always ring true about Yorks Eagles teams: they will almost always possess the puck and outshoot their opponent, they will always represent their coach in the most honorable way on the ice and theyll very rarely beat themselves with bad penalties or careless puck-handling.
Sounds like a pretty good formula for long term success, but then again thats exactly why York is moving into the top of the all-time coaching wins list.
And hes doing it all modesty aside, of course.