Thursday, November 30, 2017

’78 National Champions’ reunion on tap Saturday at Agganis; “Jack Parker’s Wiseguys, chronicling title season, will be available for book signing

Front row L to R - Mark Fidler, Jack O'Callahan, Tony Meagher, Brian Durocher Bill O'Neill and Tony Ruvolo (hand on O'Neill's shoulder). Second row L to R - Bill Cotter, Dave Silk, Mickey Mullen, Scott Nieland, John Melanson, Dick Lamby, Bill LeBlond and Pete Morris (glasses).

Forty years ago on this date, the Terriers traveled to Hanover, N.H. to take on Dartmouth in an early season game. Behind goals from Dave Silk, Darryl MacLeod and Billy Cotter, BU rallied to take home a come-from-behind 3-2 decision, its third straight win in a streak that would eventually stretch to a school-record 21 games. And the wins would just keep coming as the Terriers went on to post a 30-2-0 record and claim the school's third national championship, defeating Green Line rival Boston College in the title game, 5-3.

[Check back later on Friday for the Game Day post]

Getting to that title game was far from easy despite having ripped through the regular season with a 25-1-0 record. Upset by Providence in the ECAC semifinals, BU was forced to play the Friars again a week later in an NCAA play-in game in Providence. BU won the rematch, 5-3, then eliminated Wisconsin in the NCAA semis to set the stage for the All-Commonwealth Avenue championship game.

This Saturday, coaches, players and managers from the 1977-78 Terriers will hold their 40-year reunion, appropriately, during the BU-BC game. The team will be introduced to the crowd between the second and third periods. Earlier in the day on Saturday, they’ll also take in the BU Women’s game against BC at Walter Brown Arena, which was the men’s squad’s home ice in 1977-78.

Team manager Tony Ruvolo, who began organizing the reunion three years ago, reports that virtually all team members (roster and stats), as well as Coach Jack Parker and assistants Don Cahoon, Bob Murray and Andy Fila, will be present. One team member, Billy Cotter, passed away two years ago.

Goalie Brian Durocher and Head Coach Jack Parker
The ’77-’78 national champs featured five skaters with 50 or more points—Mark Fidler, John Bethel, Dick Lamby, Dave Silk and Jack O’Callahan--and a pair of standout goalies in Jim Craig and current Women’s Team Head Coach Brian Durocher. O’Callahan, Silk and Craig would, of course, go on to Olympic glory in 1980, along with former Terrier Mike Eruzione. Fidler, who led the team in scoring with 65 points, would become the first Terrier to lead the team in scoring all four years.

Jack Parker’s Wiseguys
Coincident with the four-decade anniversary of the 1978 title team is the publication of a no-holds-barred chronicle of the tumultuous, exhilarating, raucous and heart-breaking events of “that championship season.”  Authored by hockey journalist, former ESPN hockey producer and Lake Forest College skater Tim Rappleye, the book’s full title is Jack Parker's Wiseguys: The National Champion BU Terriers, the Blizzard of ’78, and the Miracle on Ice. The book's publisher, University Press of New England, describes the 248-page, illustrated book as “the story of one of the most outrageous national championship teams of the swashbuckling ’70s.” (details and comments)

Hardcover copies of Jack Parker’s Wiseguys will be on sale for $27.95 during the game on the Agganis Arena Concourse and after the game in the arena lobby where Coach Parker and team members will be signing books. Five dollars from each book purchase will be donated to The Travis RoyFoundation. The book also can be purchased at and Amazon.

► Book excerpt: The Education of Mark Fidler

So how did this book come to be written?

Two years ago, Rappleye, who was a prep school teammate at BB&N with Terrier forward Todd Johnson (a freshman on the title team), had written a lengthy piece for his RinkRAP blog about BU’s first loss of the ’77-’78 season, an upset win by Yale that ended the 21-game winning streak. He explains:

“It was my most popular post, and during the research, I learned that BU's only other loss came within hours of Parker's first wife dying. I have always been fascinated with Parker's character and his evolution from firebrand Jackie Parker in the red plaid jacket, to the sport's statesman Jack Parker, the benevolent father figure to BU hockey. This was the perfect opportunity to write my first book.”

In addition to his connection with Johnson, Rappleye had a mutual friend with O’Callahan, leading to his first lengthy interview for the book. 

“Once OC was on board, the rest followed,” Rappleye reports. “Dave Silk and I have known each other since playing in Europe together in the 1970's, and he was a massive contributor to this project. Since nearly 40 years have passed since the 1977-78 season, the boys did not hold much back.

“Coach Parker was kind enough to finish reading Wiseguys immediately prior to deadline. He made some vital corrections; the most important to him was the fact that, although he was a chain smoker at the time, he assured me that he did NOT smoke on the bench, as one of his players had claimed.”

Will this book grab the attention of sports fans beyond BU and New England? Rappleye is confident that it will.

“Every sports fan with a pulse knows the story of the Miracle on Ice, and BU represented the dominant personalities on that historic club,” Rappleye adds, “Mike Eruzione was kind enough to write the foreword to Wiseguys, and there are a plethora of entertaining stories of the other three Miracle Men to entertain readers with no connection to BU. Plus, the Blizzard of 78 is still remembered by the entire region and beyond. Coach Parker displayed his masterful storytelling in vivid recollections of that infamous blizzard.”

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