Saturday, March 20, 2021

Watching & waiting; '70-'71 flashback--BU wins its first NCAA title

The Terriers and their fans will be watching tonight’s Hockey East championship game between UMass-Amherst and UMass-Lowell. A Minutemen victory would enhance BU’s chances of securing an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament. The NCAA selection show will be on ESPNU Sunday at 7:00 p.m. ET.

’70-’71 Flashback  March 20, 1971: Terriers win their first NCAA title

                                            Head Coach Jack Kelley and Steve Stirling
Behind a pair of goals from Captain Steve Stirling and 32 saves by goalie Dan Brady, top-ranked BU doubled up Minnesota, 4-2, to seize its first NCAA championship at the War Memorial Auditorium in Syracuse.

Unlike the Terriers who reached the title game with the nation’s best record (27-2-1), Minnesota had a losing mark, 14-16-2. But the Gophers had upset Wisconsin and North Dakota to claim the WCHA championship and an auto-bid to the NCAAs. Leading their attack was Dean Blais, who would go on to an award-winning coaching career at North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha, and Craig Sarner, a future Boston Bruin and U.S. Olympian.

The teams had met three months earlier in Boston with BU winning decisively, 6-0, powered by two goals apiece by Stirling and Bob Gryp.

Five minutes into the first period, BU put its top weapon, the power play, to work. Jake Danby set up Bob Brown at the right point for a slapper that went off Dennis Erickson’s goalie pads right to Stirling who buried a 15-footer. BU doubled the lead midway through the period when Wayne Gowing’s pass from the corner found Gryp at the goalmouth for the finish. Brady turned aside all 13 Minnesota shots.

In the middle period, after Paul Giandomenico was foiled twice on odd-man rushes, BU added to its lead when Stirling blocked a shot from the point, broke in alone and backhanded the puck past Erickson on the glove side for his 27th tally.

Minnesota finally put a puck past Brady at 13:07 of the third period when Doug Peltier scored one second after BU killed a penalty. The Terriers got that one back later in the period when the third line combined to score on the rush. Guy Burrowes sent Steve Dolloff and Ron Anderson away on a two-on-one with Anderson netting his 20th goal. Blais’s slapshot in the final half-minute made the final score 4-2.

For Coach Jack Kelley, who had taken the reins at his alma mater in 1962, it was his third trip to the NCAAs as BU's head coach and produced the NCAA championship that eluded him at the 1950 nationals as an All-East defenseman.  An emotional Kelley said, “This is my biggest thrill is sports as a coach or a player. Dan Brady was just great and the entire team proved it is truly the number one team in the nation. How sweet it is!” (Note: Kelley passed away this past September at 93.)

Four Terriers, Stirling, Brady, Brown and Toot Cahoon, earned spots on the All-Tournament Team, while Brady, who stopped 55 of 58 shots in the two games, was named tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Brady, Brown and Stirling each were named first-team All-Americans.

Stirling’s power play goal was BU’s 66th of the season—six more than its total number of goals BU allowed in all 31 games. The power play clicked at 40.2%—66 of 164.

The team’s 1.91 goals against average remains the lowest in program history. Brady’s 2.04 GAA is fifth best in the BU record book. Tim Regan’s 1.77 GAA is the best mark for a single season.

Led by Danby’s 28 goals, the team set a program record (since broken) of 210 goals (6.77 gpg) and boasted five 20+ goal scorers: Danby, Stirling, Cahoon, Anderson and Gryp. Stirling’s 70 points was, at the time, second best in program history, while Danby had 64. Defensemen Brown and Ric Jordan, keys to the dominant power play, combined for 110 points (29G,81A).

The ’70-’71 Terriers had only three seniors—Stirling, Gowing and defenseman Peter Yetten—leaving the team with ample fire-power to defends its title…which it did in 1972.

After graduation, Stirling would play for the AHL Boston Braves and Rochester Americans, before moving into coaching. He was head coach at Babson College and Providence College and then in the AHL before taking on the top job with the New York Islanders, becoming the first Terrier to serve as an NHL head coach. Stirling has spent the last decade with the Ottawa Senators organization.

After earning a Masters of Education at Bowling Green, Gowing also went into coaching, as described in our Jan. 20 post, leading Wilfred Laurier University in Ontario for 25 years. He also instructed in Kinesiology/Physical Education and was Manager of Athletics & Student Athlete Development.

Like his teammates, Yetten, who also was a Terrier quarterback (1969 Pasadena Bowl), became a hockey coach, but only briefly at Waltham High School. He would then spend 30 seasons coaching the Bentley Falcons football program, taking the club program to varsity status in Division III and then in Divison II, compiling a 225-81-2 record.

Looking ahead

2021 recruit Tyler Boucher scored his ninth goal in the NTDP U17s’ 4-2 win against Youngstown. The 6’1” right-shot forward has goals in both games he’s played since returning from a leg injury.

2022 recruit Jack Harvey has been named to the USHL squad for the upcoming BioSteel All-American game set for April 7 in Plymouth, Michigan. The USHL squad will take on the NTDP U17s whose line-up includes three 2021 BU recruits: Jeremy Wilmer, Roman Schmidt and Tyler.

Looking back

Trevor Zegras scored his first NHL goal in the Ducks’ 3-2 overtime win against Arizona. Clayton Keller had given the Coyotes a 2-0 lead but Zegras’ marker tied the game in the second period. Anaheim’s game-winner was set up by Kevin Shattenkirk.



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