I was asked to take a look back at some of the great BC-BU hockey games of the past 40 years and I thought in conjunction with the opening round Beanpot game on February 3, this would be a great time to do it.
So for the next five nights (if I can get to it!), I give you my list of the all time greatest games in the most storied rivalry in college hockey.
#5 certainly would have been #1 on this list, with a bullet had the result gone the other way, but it certainly marked the pinnacle of the rivalry to date as Boston College and Boston University met for the 1978 NCAA Hockey Championship at the Providence Civic Center.
The 1978 BC team coached by Len Ceglarski was lead by All American right wing, Joe Mullen. The New York City native, Mullen lead the Eagles in scoring for three straight seasons, earning AA honors in 1978 and 1979. Mullen, who still sits at #4 on the all time Eagle scoring list despite playing only 110 career games, potted an amazing 110 goals in those games, and powered the Eagles to the ECAC title as the league's number five seed.
BC won a dramatic overtime game at RPI 7-6 in the single game ECAC quarterfinal to open their run to the title.
I remember listening to that on a transistor radio and when the winning goal was scored the announcers pulled the plug on the broadcast, leaving everyone not only in the dark, but in doubt of what had just happened. Back in the studio in Boston, a voice came on and asked, "if you're like us, you are wondering who the hell scored".
BC then beat Brown at the Garden, 6-4 before capturing their second and final ECAC tournament title, by beating Providence, 4-2.
From there it was on to the Civic Center for the national semifinal where the Eagles drew Bowling Green, featuring future Olympian and NY Islander defenseman, Ken Morrow. The Eagles would easily handle the Falcons, 6-3, to run their record to 24-9 and set the stage for a fourth encounter that season with the Terriers.
BU entered the championship game at 29-2 on the season behind a young Jack Parker, having buried BC three times during the regular season (6-3 at Walter Brown and then in a ten day period, 10-5 at McHugh and 12-5 in the Beanpot opening round). The Terriers though had stumbled in the ECAC semifinals, dropping a 5-1 decision to Providence and seemingly, despite their amazing regular season, were done.
The NCAA selection committee though in what was an unusual, but not unprecedented move, gave BU another chance and in what was a play-in game to the NCAA semifinals (only four teams qualified in those days and generally they were the finalists in both the WCHA and ECAC title games), the Terriers went to Schneider Arena and beat the Friars, 5-3.
In the national semifinal, BU would take down WCHA champion Wisconsin 5-2 to set the stage for the all Commonwealth Avenue final.
Things would not start well for the Eagles with Charlestown's Mark Fidler scoring just 38 seconds into period one to put BU on top 1-0. BC though would respond with back to back goals by Mullen and Bobby Hehir to send what was a pro BC crowd into hysteria and take a 2-1 lead.
This BU team though may have been the best in its history and they came right back. Featuring what would make up the core of the famous 1980 Lake Placid Olympic team, one of those players, Dave Silk would tie the game at two, setting up the turning point of the contest.
Late in the first period, with BC on the power play, BU's Tony Meagher, would beat BC goaltender Paul Skidmore for a shorthanded goal to put BU in front at the end of a back and forth first period, 3-2.
The Terriers would stretch that lead to 4-2 after two on another Meagher goal, before Fidler would get his second at the start of period three making it 5-2 BU.
BC's Steve Barger would cut the deficit to 5-3 just a few minutes later, but BU goalie Jim Craig would make 13 of his 28 stops in the final period to hold the Eagles at bay.