The history between the two coaches is part of hockey lore. Jack Parker and Jerry York first faced off against one another in a high school game back in 1962. Seems they've been going at it ever since.
Now, nearly half a century later, the two men are ready to take their positions on the bench when Boston College and Boston University face off Friday night at Fenway Park. Both coaches grew up huge Red Sox fans, and when the puck drops, one will be standing just about where the Red Sox' shortstop will be playing this summer, while the other will stand where the second baseman would be.
Not a bad double-play combination. Two coaches with a combined 1,652 wins coaching before some 38,000 fans at the lyric little bandbox in the Fens.
York was a pretty good baseball player as a kid and dreamed of playing for the Sox someday. That dream didn't come through, "but here I am at Fenway," he said with a smile on Wednesday.
Parker, a Red Sox season-ticket holder, stood on the ice and talked about the heartbreak in 1967 and 1975, and how special Friday night's game will be for college hockey in New England.
"I think the NHL and Fenway made the right decision not putting stands anywhere near the rink on the field," said Parker. "So when we're out there, it looks like Fenway Park and it will look like Fenway Park to the fans as well."
Both teams skated on the ice for the first time Wednesday, and the hooting and hollering heard as they took the ice made it clear that this was no ordinary practice.
"Emotionally, it's unbelievable," said BC captain Matt Price. "It's really exciting. I know from late [last] year … and hearing rumors about it and having the anticipation building. It's so exciting to get out there and be on the ice. We've been waiting."
"We seemed like a bunch of 12-year-olds out there playing hockey again," said BU captain Eric Gryba.
You didn't have to be born in Boston to understand how special all of this is. Gryba is from Saskatoon, Saketchawan, and Price hails from Ontario. But Parker is a Somerville kid, and York grew up in Watertown. Both are coaching at their alma maters, and both know Friday will be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
"We need the two points, probably more than they do," said Parker, "but I'm not sure either team is going to be able to stop looking around at all of this."
Parker's team, the defending national champs, has struggled to recapture the magic of last year's squad. A win on the frozen Fenway tundra could do a lot to jump-start the Terriers for the final two months of the season.
York's Eagles won the NCAA title two seasons ago. Like Parker, he'll try to remind his team that you need to play to win, even when you're playing in the shadows of the Green Monster.
"I spoke with [Philadelphia Flyers head coach] Peter Laviolette," said York. "He said it was great being part of [the NHL's Winter Classic], but they still lost. You want to go home with a win."
With all due respect to Michigan/Ohio State, USC/UCLA or any other big-name college rivalry you can think of, BC/BU hockey is the best rivalry in college sports. Imagine any of those other tandems existing two miles from one another.
These two schools first lined up against one another in 1918, and they've been going at it ever since. Somehow, the rivalry grows every year, and Friday night it will play on the biggest stage the two teams have ever taken.
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