The last time Boston University won the NCAA hockey tournament, Mike Eruzione wore the red and white for the Terriers in 1978.
Best remembered for his game-winning goal in the semifinals that helped the United States defeat the Soviet Union en route to the gold medal in 1980, Eruzione now stands behind the bench as an assistant to head coach Jack Parker. Today, the Terriers overpowered Maine with their offensive strength, 6-2, and won the national championship at the Providence Civic Center, the same site where Eruzione and his teammates won it 17 years ago.
Sophomore forward Chris O'Sullivan, the tournament's outstanding player, scored two goals for Boston University (31-6-3), which earned its first victory over Hockey East rival Maine (31-6-6) in five tries this season. The victory also erased the memory of the Terriers' 1994 performance in the final, a 9-1 loss to Lake Superior State, and completed a storied season for BU. The Terriers became only the second team in school history to win Boston's Beanpot tournament, its conference tournament and the national title in the same year -- something no other city school has done.
"Obviously, last year's game has been with us all year and we wanted to get back," said captain Jacques Joubert, who put in a rebound to give BU a 3-0 lead with 9 minutes 15 seconds left in the second period. "We knew we had a great team all year. We won a lot of big games -- the Beanpot, the Hockey East. We knew that this was our last chance to get here and we wanted to make the most of it."
For the Black Bears, who were hoping to gain their second national title in three years, Coach Shawn Walsh viewed the season as a positive experience in lieu of last year's performance which saw Maine lose 29 games -- including 14 forfeits -- and a slew of off-ice debacles.
"We brought Maine hockey back," said Walsh, whose Black Bears were coming off a 4-3 triple overtime victory against Michigan Thursday -- the second-longest game in Division I history. "We got every ounce out of our petrol tanks.
"We got the game to 3-2 where we wanted it to be, but the key play was a high turnover. It was a blind pass. Good teams will put a nail in you when you make a mistake and they did that."
A goal by Trevor Roenick, whose brother Jeremy stars for the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks, put the Black Bears within a goal 31 seconds into the third period. But just as the Terriers scored four goals in the third period in the semifinal to defeat Minnesota, 7-3, they struck again when Maine got close. Junior left wing Jay Pandolfo intercepted a clearing pass and got the puck to sophomore center Shawn Bates, who faked around Maine defensemen Jeff Tory and set up Mark Sylvia's goal at the 5:23 mark of the third period.
"The fourth goal was the killer," Walsh said. "It was like somebody put a stake right through our heart."
Asked whether this was the greatest team in school history, Parker, who owns two of the school's four national titles, danced around the question.
"I don't know if this is the greatest Boston University team," said Parker, who has coached for 22 years. "This BU team won the national title, but I don't think that is quite the measure of it. This team has achieved a lot. . . . This is one in a line and it's a nice line to be in. This national title is really about the seniors. This was their last chance and they had a great four years." CAPTION: From left, the Terriers' Derek Herlofsky, Jacques Joubert and Rich Brennan celebrate NCAA title with a victory skate.