Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Road to Troy—Now and Then

With high expectations, the Terriers head West on the Mass Pike today to meet the Rensselaer Engineers, BU’s frequent season-opening opponent. The Daily Free Press provides a game preview that reveals some line shuffling. Coach Parker has reunited last year’s freshman line, and moved Eric Thomassian to the third line with Brian McGuirk and John McCarthy. Ryan Weston, who earned Parker’s praise for his effort in the exhibition game, moves to the offwing on the 4th line with rightwing Steve Smolinsky adding some speed to the checking unit. They’ll be centered by freshman Luke Popko, whom Parker has dubbed “our new Zanc.” The first unit remains intact. We’ll update this post when BU’s game notes are available.

Some of the message board discussion of Terrier fans’ choice of seats at RPI’s Houston Field House—either behind the goal at one end or beyond the goal line alongside the other end—recalls a memorable trip to Troy, for both fans and players, in 1971.

Student buses to home games and some away had been organized during the final season that BU called ancient Boston Arena home, and one road trip was to RPI’s sold out arena. Some 85-90 students, parents and Friends of BU Hockey members, sitting in the section beyond the goal line saw BU clinging to a 2-1 early second period lead but the Engineers were clearly controlling the play, Trying to change the momentum, the BU fans simply got louder and louder; their cheers soon were dominating the old converted dirigible hanger. The Terriers responded with goals from All-American defenseman Bob Brown and Toot Cahoon, and pulled away for a 7-2 win. Two of the goals came off the stick of Paul Giandomenico, who remembers the game well. “Our locker room was directly under the stands and when the RPI fans kicked the backs of the aluminum seats benches, the noise was deafening. [Coach Jack] Kelley couldn’t even speak to us between the periods because we couldn’t hear him with the noise resonating through the room. I also remember that it was the BU fans coming alive which gave us a huge emotional lift and helped us regain the momentum.”

Just before the student bus left the parking lot after the game, the hoarse crew of fans was startled by Coach Kelley climbing aboard the bus. They were further shocked when “The Mentor” informed them they had made the difference in the game were in large part responsible for the win. His words of thanks –and a stop for “refreshments”— made for a remarkably quick and happy return to Boston.

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