AMHERST, Mass. — Growing up in nearby Watertown, Jerry York always dreamed of playing for coach John “Snooks” Kelly at Boston College.
York fulfilled that dream in 1963 when he played under Kelly at Chestnut Hill. It was in those four years that he truly understood the blue-collar nature that made Kelly, who also worked as a local high school teacher at the time, so influential.
“He always gave 100 percent, and always made a lasting impression on me,” York said of Kelly. “To play for Coach Kelly was pretty special for me.”
Nearly five decades later, York was in Kelly’s position surpassing his old coach.
Friday’s 5-3 win over Massachusetts was the 502nd of York’s BC coaching career, making him the winningest coach in program history. He was presented with the puck by captain Michael Matheson after the game.
York, however, chose not to speak of his personal achievement, but rather praise Kelly for his influence on his career.
“Milestones aren’t really my top pick,” he said. “But I do have a lot of respect for Coach Kelly.”
When asked about the game puck, York joked, “I’ll give it to my wife, see what she’ll do with it. She’ll probably use it as a door stop.”
While Friday night was about York’s achievement for the road team, the 5,939 in attendance were left in disbelief as the Minutemen were seemingly snake-bitten.
With UMass trailing 2-1 late the second period, Quinn Smith created space in the Minutemen’s zone during a 4-on-4 and tried to drop the puck off in front, but his pass deflected off the skate of Oleg Yevenko and into the back of the net to double BC’s advantage.
UMass cut the Eagles’ lead in half on a Troy Power power-play goal 3:50 into the third, but allowed another crushing goal over two minutes later.
Chris Calnan fired a puck on net that was saved by Minutemen goaltender Henry Dill. UMass freshman Patrick Lee tried to gather the loose puck, but it instead ricocheted off his stick and past Dill to extend’s BC lead to 4-2 at a pivotal moment.
“Sometimes that’s just how it goes,” Power said. “They probably outworked us in the game, and usually when you outwork a team those bounces usually go to the team that does that.”
The Minutemen also lost the video replay battle. Anthony Petrella scored the would-be tying goal 10:31 into the second period, but it was waved off because the freshman gloved the puck into the net.
Noah Hanifin doubled the Eagles’ lead again with a goal two minutes after Marc Hetnik cut the UMass deficit to 4-3. The Minutemen challenged the ruling of a good goal, but the call stood.
“It’s pretty frustrating when some things that are a little bit outside of your control, whether it’s bad deflections, bad penalty calls, replay reviews not going your way, whatever it is,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “You can’t cry in this league, because nobody feels sorry for you. It’s a tough way to try to be a pretty good hockey team.”
BC goaltender Thatcher Demko responded well after giving up a soft goal to Ray Pigozzi 46 seconds into the game. The sophomore made 18 saves on 21 UMass shots, including 14 in the first period.
“We took a punch right in the nose; first minute of the game they score a goal,” York said. “But I thought we kept our composure. When they got it to 3-2 and 4-3, the same thing, we kind of stayed.
“We’re a young team in a lot of respects, and we’re growing. We’re going to be a pretty good club after Christmas.”
It took BC over 15 minutes to overcome the opening tally, but it answered in a big way.
Calnan scored a power-play goal at 15:24 – 14 seconds after a Frank Vatrano hooking call – to tie the game at 1-1. The Eagles took a 2-1 lead exactly one minute later when Cam Spiro ripped the puck into the top-right corner of the net off a snap shot from the left circle.
Dill made 25 saves for the Minutemen, who were outshot 30-21 for the game.
Calnan led the Eagles with two goals, while Hanifin chipped in with a goal and two assists.