Just over ten years ago, I had no idea what it was like for one of “my” teams to win a championship. Sure, the Celtics won in the 80s, but basketball was never my sport. I rooted for the B’s, Sox, and Pats. When I started at Boston College in 1992, the BC Eagles were added to the list of teams I lived and died with…
During my years at BC, the hockey program was struggling. My friend Patrick and I would go to games and see Maine absolutely dominate us. I remember one game when the only goal BC scored was a 5 on 3. When I was a junior, they wisely hired Jerry York and he started turning the team around. And it didn’t take long to see the results.
Two years after I graduated, the BC hockey team made it to the college hockey Frozen Four championship game. It was in Boston, they played Michigan, and I went to the game with my friends Patrick and Scott. The Eagles led in the 3rd period, but Michigan tied it up with less than 10 minutes to go. The game went into overtime, and BC lost in the most heartbreaking game I’ve ever attended to date. After the goal, my friends and I just sat there looking down. We didn’t say a word for I don’t know how long, until I heard a voice. It was a security guard saying, “Excuse me, you have to leave now.” I looked up, and we were the only ones left in the building. The fans were gone, the teams were gone, the bands were gone, and the press was gone. It was just security and us.
In 1999, BC made it to the Frozen Four again, but lost in the semi-finals to Maine. That was another heartbreaking overtime loss, but at least I wasn’t at that one. In 2000, the Eagles reached the championship game and played North Dakota for a chance to bring a hockey title to BC for the first time since 1949. ND had other plans, won it all, and my heart broke a bit more. Little did I know, it was all the perfect setup for the 2001 BC team.
After being eliminated in 1998, 1999, and 2000 by Michigan, Maine, and North Dakota; the 2001 Boston College Eagles would face those very same schools in the NCAA college hockey tournament. They beat Maine in their first game, defeated Michigan in their 2nd game, and earned a chance for championship redemption against North Dakota.
I will never forget watching that game in my Waltham apartment. My friend Patrick was my roommate then, and we watched nervously while hoping we’d be seeing the first BC hockey championship in 52 years. BC was ahead with 4 minutes to go in the game, but my history as a Red Sox fan told me that you can’t celebrate until the last out or the clock says 0:00. And we would have to wait for that celebration. North Dakota pulled their goalie twice in those last 4 minutes, and score twice to force yet another BC Frozen Four overtime game.
As I started rocking back and forth while praying during the intermission before overtime, coach York was asking the BC hockey team who wanted it…who wanted to be the hero, they guy that won it all.
Well, less than 5 minutes into overtime, Krys Kolanos answered the call…
BC won in OT, and I really didn’t know what to do. Did one of my teams just win a championship? I screamed a lot, yelled at Patrick a lot (he recalls that I shrieked something like, “That’s for all the times we went and saw them lose 10-3!”), played “We are the Champions loud enough so all the neighbors heard, and my parents called me. It was a feeling that I’d never had my entire life, and I knew what I had to do…
Even though I was 5 years out of graduating from BC, I had to be there when the team got back – they had just given me a championship thrill that no other Boston team had before. So, a couple hours after the game ended, I headed over to Conte Forum and waited. Even though I was hoping it would be a mob scene (like in 1993 when I was a sophomore and we beat #1 Notre Dame in football), it wasn’t too crazy. But, there were still a lot of students waiting for the team with me.
The team got out, and the crowd erupted into screams, cheers, and chants. When Gionta walked off the bus holding the trophy, I really lost it - screams and tears at the same time. Jerry York elicited similar cheers and screams as he walked off the bus with his huge smile. It was a night to remember, but little did I know it wouldn’t be the last time one of my teams would win.
I watch the Pats win the Superbowl in 2002 and 2004. Then the Sox won it all later in 2004, for the first time since 1918 (you might have heard), and after being the first team in MLB history to come back down zero games to three. Pats did it for a third time in 2005, and the Sox again in 2007. Then, BC took home two more hockey titles in 2008 and 2010.
Even though I enjoyed each and every one of these championships, hockey is my favorite sport and the Bruins are my favorite hockey team. The B’s are also my family’s team – we all love Boston sports, but the Bruins are the team that we share a passion for. Tomorrow night, they have a chance to take The Cup back to Boston. If the Hockey Gods know what a real team is and how hockey should be played, they will shine kindly on the B’s tomorrow night. I love these photos I have of Kolanos’ goal and the team getting off the bus, but I would really, really, really love to add a picture of Tim Thomas hoisting The Cup to my collection. Here we go Bruins, here we go!!!!!