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After a half-century behind the college hockey bench, Boston College's Jerry York steps away his way

There was little fanfare sought when one of college hockey's true coaching legends retired this week following five NCAA titles and 50 years total at Clarkson, Bowling Green and Boston College.

Jerry York.jpg
Veteran Boston College men's hockey coach Jerry York has led the Eagles to NCAA titles in 2001, 2008, 2010 and 2012, and coached Bowling Green to the title in 1984.
Contributed / Boston College Athletics

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – A week ago, the eyes of the college hockey world were trained on Boston, with the NCAA Frozen Four happening there. It would have been easy for Jerry York to make a big splash, and announce he was walking away from this game that has been his life then. But that has never been his style.

In coaching Boston College to a quartet of national titles and coaxing another one out of Bowling Green earlier in his career, York did it all with an unassuming nature and a humble style that may never be seen again in this or any other sport.

So it was that on an otherwise uninteresting Wednesday afternoon, Boston College put out a press release to say that at age 76, after nearly three decades as coach of the Eagles, York was stepping away from the game to spend more time with family. He retires after an amazing 50 seasons as a head coach, starting at Clarkson in 1972, then going to Bowling Green in 1979 and finally returning to his alma mater in 1994.

As one of the “blue blood” programs in college hockey, the Eagles are an easy program to hate for all of their on-ice success, but York remained one of the more friendly, approachable and humble people in the sport through his career 1,123 wins – a NCAA record that may never be touched.

“Jerry is probably the greatest coaching legend in my lifetime, and I don’t think you’re ever going to see someone like that again in our game,” said Gophers coach Bob Motzko. “Most importantly, Jerry is a class act and has been a gentleman and a great leader in our profession.”


Originally from Watertown, Massachusetts, York is a rare “triple Eagle,” having graduated from Boston College High School and from BC, then getting a master’s degree from the school. After leading Clarkson to an ECAC title in 1977 and winning the Spencer Penrose Award, given to the top coach in college hockey, that year, he replaced Ron Mason at Bowling Green and quickly built the Falcons into a power in the CCHA. In his 15 seasons there, York guided Bowling Green to four CCHA titles and to a four-overtime upset of Minnesota Duluth in the 1984 national championship game in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Jerry is probably the greatest coaching legend in my lifetime, and I don’t think you’re ever going to see someone like that again in our game. Most importantly, Jerry is a class act and has been a gentleman and a great leader in our profession.
Bob Motzko, Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach

Returning to his playing and coaching roots a decade later, York took over a BC program that was always competitive, but had not won a NCAA title since 1949. In his fourth season there, he got the Eagles back to the national championship game but they fell in overtime to Michigan in Boston. Two years later with BC football star Doug Flutie in attendance, they had a third period lead versus North Dakota in Providence, but saw the Fighting Sioux roar back and claim the 2000 title in Providence, Rhode Island. It was then that some thought the Eagles must be cursed and would never lift the game’s top trophy.
In the 2001 title game – a rematch with North Dakota – BC had a 2-0 lead in the waning minutes of the game when Sioux coach Dean Blais pulled his goalie with more than four minutes to play. North Dakota scored twice to force overtime, and the collective BC fan base had that “here we go again” feeling, until Krys Kolanos scored in the extra session to finally get York and the Eagles the game’s top trophy. York’s teams won additional NCAA titles in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

He finishes with a career record of 1,123-682-128. Among the names being mentioned as the potential next coach for the Eagles are UConn’s Mike Cavanaugh, who was an assistant coach under York for several years; Dubuque (USHL) coach Greg Brown, who is a former Eagles defenseman, and former NHL coach Scott Gordon, who is a BC alum.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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