Providence College coach Paul Pooley said they have “raised the bar” for college hockey coaches.
Northeastern University coach Bruce Crowder said, “The wins say it all. Each program is a little bit different in its own right. But they’ve all found their niche.”
Pooley and Crowder were referring to the coaching trio of Boston University’s Jack Parker, Boston College’s Jerry York and Maine’s Shawn Walsh.
Maine’s Black Bears will face Boston University and Boston College this weekend as they travel to Boston for a Friday night game with BU before returning home for a rare Sunday night showdown with Boston College.
Parker, York and Walsh have combined for 1609 wins against 949 losses and 153 ties. Their teams have made 36 NCAA Tournament appearances and have won five NCAA championships.
They are fierce rivals, but off the ice, they are friends. Parker and Walsh have resolved past differences and now talk frequently. Both have had to deal with recent illnesses as Walsh is continuing his fight against kidney cancer and Parker has overcome a bout with the stomach disorder diverticulitis.
“Jack and Jerry have their own coaching styles. They have their own idiosyncrasies, but they know what works for them. It’s always a good chess match,” said Walsh, who is 385-207-41 in 17 years at Maine with 10 NCAA appearances and two national titles.
Parker, who is 620-303-59 with 17 NCAA appearances and two national crowns in 28 years at his alma mater, agreed with Walsh.
“If you see Maine play now, they play pretty much the same way they did five years ago. It’s the same with Jerry and myself,” said Parker who added that there are subtle changes but all three play variations of an up-tempo game.
York, who is 604-439-54 during his stints at Clarkson, Bowling Green and Boston College with nine NCAA berths and a national title, said coaching against Walsh and Parker “keeps you on your toes. You’ve got to be prepared because you know they will be. They’re going to make things happen. You just hope you have good players because you know, historically, they will have them.”
Walsh and Parker are similar in that they are animated on the bench. They can be heard above the din of a packed arena.
York is quiet and laid back but Walsh said “Jerry isn’t any less intense he just does it a different way.”
Crowder said, “Shawn and Jack obviously get excited. They wear [their emotions] on their sleeves. Jerry has the best chance of having a heart attack because he keeps it in.”
The three coaches still enjoy coaching just as much as when they started.
“It’s a great profession when you’re at a good school that cares about its hockey program. That’s why you don’t see a turnover [in coaches at certain schools like these three]. It’s a problem-solving job and you control the problems. It’s not like that in pro hockey where management can dictate who’s going to play.
“The youthful enthusiasm you get from your players makes this job so intrinsically rewarding,” added the 45-year-old Walsh, who is 10 years younger than York and Parker.
York, who has spent the last seven seasons at his alma mater, and Parker said they also feel fortunate that their respective schools place a premium on their hockey programs and provide them with the support they need to be successful.
“I kind of like the job, I really do. Part of that is winning. You’ve got to win to like it,” said York.
“I wasn’t enjoying it three weeks ago,” joked Parker, who was in the midst of a six-game losing streak.
Walsh said he and his players love playing BU and BC “because there is respect between us and it is a measuring stick for us as a team and for the individual players.”
Pooley and Crowder said facing Maine, BC and BU gives them a valuable learning tool.
“I learn a lot more after playing them by watching the videotape to see how their team played against us,” said Crowder.
Pooley said “they have helped a lot of coaches. You can learn just by watching their teams play.”
MAINE vs. BOSTON UNIVERSITY
Time, site: Friday, 7 p.m., Walter Brown Arena, Boston
Records: Maine 6-4-4 (3-1-2 Hockey East); Boston University 4-8-1 (3-4-1)
Series, last meeting: BU leads 33-30-5; 3-3 tie on 1/16/00
Key players: Maine – C Chris Heisten (2 goals, 10 assists), C Lucas Lawson (5 & 5), RW Matthias Trattnig (5 & 4), C Marty Kariya (4 & 5), RW Niko Dimitrakos (5 & 3), D Doug Janik (1 & 6), G Matt Yeats (5-2-1, 2.17 goals-against average, .907 save percentage); BU – C Carl Corazzini (9 & 7), C Dan Cavanaugh (4 & 7), C Brian Collins (4 & 6), LW Jack Baker (3 & 6), D Freddy Meyer (2 & 6), D Pat Aufiero (1 & 3), G Jason Tapp (2-5-1, 3.61, .877)
Outlook: The Terriers snapped a rare six-game losing streak with a 5-2, 4-2 sweep of UMass last weekend, while Maine posted a win and a tie against Northeastern. BU is 7-2-4 over the last 13 games vs. Maine at Walter Brown Arena. The Terriers would like nothing better than to begin a 21-day break with a win over Maine. The teams are similar in that both employ an up-tempo, aggressive style of forecheck. They are both quick and dangerous on transition. Corazzini has seven goals in his last four games against Maine and was named Hockey East Player of the Week for his three goals and three assists in the sweep of UMass. One intriguing matchup will be BU’s league-best power play (31 percent efficiency) against Maine’s penalty-killing unit, tops in Hockey East at 90.6 percent overall. Maine will be without defensemen Peter Metcalf (knee) and Eric Turgeon (shoulder) and winger Brendan Donovan (lacerated kidney). BU will be minus RW Nick Gillis (wrist), and LW Mike Pandolfo is doubtful (knee). The team that handles the forechecking pressure and avoids turnovers should come out on top.