April 17, 2003

2003 Eerily Similar to Past NCAA Appearances

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No question about it, this is one of those whiny, biased, one-sided homer columns that any respectable journalist would renounce immediately. No attempt is being made to be fair or impartial. Happily, I am certainly not a respectable journalist and therefore I intend to swing freely from the fences and vent thirty-three years of Big Red frustration.

I was fortunate to be on hand and personally witness the extraordinary glory that was 1967, and the unique excitement which occurred during the one of a kind 1970 perfect season. Unfortunately, those long-ago experiences did not eliminate, nor alleviate, the ever-increasing pain I endured while sitting on the edge of my seat for three hours last Thursday afternoon at Buffalo’s HSBC arena.

Instead of becoming the third jewel in a wonderful upstate New York triad of NCAA crowns, 2003 brought back a variety of terrible memories. A smorgasbord of disasters danced around my aging brain: awful referees’ calls, last-second playoff defeats, unfair seeds and an unending parade of Cornell pucks clanging off pipes and crossbars. All of which contributed to preventing my alma mater from resuming its rightful place atop the world of college hockey.

So, when the people operating the video replay in the upper reaches of the HSBC arena and referee Don Adam (who had been wise and brave when he disallowed an apparent winning goal for B.C. eleven days earlier) astonishingly determined that Red winger Shane Palahicky had employed a too-high stick as he deflected the disc past UNH netminder Mike Ayers after twelve minutes of utter domination by the No. 1 ranked Ithacans, hobgoblins from the dusty corners of my brain instantly appeared.

How about 1971, when a critical Brian McCutcheon third period goal was amazingly waved off on a phantom crease violation which enabled B.U. (then 25-2-1) to steal a 6-5 victory in ECAC consolation game. This gave the Terriers the second Eastern bid to the NCAA Frozen Four instead of defending national champion Cornell (then 22-4), who had thrashed the Beantowners 5-1 earlier in the season. Guess who won the national title the following week?

I suppose that I am going to have to add the spectre of Stephen B