Lining the Route
A raucous crowd greets the national champions along Comm Ave
For sights and sounds from the big crowd on Comm Ave yesterday, click on the slide show above. Photos by Vernon Doucette, Andrew Reed Weller, and Kalman Zabarsky
Half an hour before the Ducks are set to roll down Commonwealth Avenue, the Boston University men’s hockey team stands in the parking lot on Deerfield Street, slips on their jerseys, and dons their championship baseball caps. Out comes the hardware, including the Beanpot, held by Jason Lawrence (MET’09), and, hoisted by Hobey Baker–winner Matt Gilroy (MET’09), the NCAA National Championship trophy, captured on Saturday in a 4-3 come-from-behind, overtime heart-stopper against Miami University of Ohio at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
Several dozen fans are already gathered, many dressed in red or gray championship T-shirts, others in BU hockey jerseys. They ask for autographs, pose for photos with BU mascot Rhett — “Smile! BU Pride!” Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore rolls up in a Segway, carrying a huge Boston University flag, causing one student to exclaim, “Whoa, that’s pretty hard-core.”
A few fans admit that with the Terriers down 3-1 with just a minute left in the championship game, they felt victory had slipped away, including Pep Band baritone player Kristen Sawyer (SAR’09). Still, she recovered her faith when Zach Cohen (CAS’10) scored BU’s second goal, narrowing Miami’s lead to one point. “Then,” she says, “I knew they could win.”
Sawyer and bandmates assemble behind the color guard as the players board two “duck boats” — the blue “Faneuil Holly” and the white “Copley Squire.” Passing cars offer congratulatory honks (although a few may well be surprised by the midday traffic snarl). A police siren gives the go-ahead signal, and the drum line kicks things off. The rolling rally is under way.
Among the crowd, swelled now to hundreds, is Robert Marchwinski (CAS’12), wearing a BU hockey jersey. He is one of the thousands of students who couldn’t make the trip to DC, so he joined fellow Terriers for the championship game at Agganis Arena. “Everyone was on their feet and screaming during that last period,” he remembers. And during that furious comeback, the tying goal by Nick Bonino (CAS’11) coming with just 17 clock ticks left, “the place went crazy.”
Some people line Comm Ave to watch the champions roll by, but most fans, hundreds of them, walk alongside and behind the waving players. Sometimes cheering erupts in bursts, occasionally with screaming. Students shed their jackets in the mild spring afternoon and use cell phones to find friends and snap pictures, the crowd thickening as the parade approaches Marsh Plaza.
Abby Fitzsimmons (CAS’12) says she showed up to display her BU pride. Then she joins in the cheering as the players descend the duck boats and make their way to a stage in front of Marsh Chapel. People climb on shoulders or scale trees for a better view. There’s scarlet everywhere.
Robert Gallagher (SMG’11) says he was offered a ticket to DC, but couldn’t make the trip because he had to finish a class project. Pesky schoolwork. But he watched both Frozen Four games at Agganis, sitting in front of Dean Elmore Thursday night. “He was yelling more than I was,” says Gallagher. “It was a good time, especially sharing it with the whole student body.”
The sound system blasts “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” by the Dropkick Murphys. And then the team is introduced, followed by a few words from University President Robert A. Brown.
“This team reached this pinnacle because of a rare combination of talent, dedication, and belief,” says Brown, who then singles out Coach Jack Parker (SMG’68, Hon.’97) for special credit. “We are privileged to have you as part of our University community,” Brown says. “We love you.”
Parker, for his part, singles out the BU students for special thanks: “When we were down 3-1, the student section was still cheering and the band was still playing, urging us on.” Team cocaptains John McCarthy (CAS’09) and Gilroy step up to the mic and likewise express appreciation to the students for their steadfast support. “There were times when maybe we weren’t playing our best, but you still cheered us on,” says McCarthy.
One of those fans who says he never lost faith, who somehow knew that deflected shot by Colby Cohen (CAS’11) would find its way into the net and win it for the Terriers in overtime, is Patrick Flynn (SMG’11), standing on a curb in front of the Green Line tracks, wearing a BU T-shirt and a backwards Red Sox cap. Flynn, born and raised in the Boston area, has a strong family connection to BU, including his sister Caitlin Flynn (SMG’09), and used to wear a BU jersey playing hockey as a kid. “In the final few minutes, I was a little worried, but I knew they had it in them to do it,” he says.
The rally wraps up with the cutting of a National Championship cake, the blasting of confetti canons, and the crowd answering Elmore’s call for “one more big cheer for the team.”
“Enjoy! Have a great day!” he concludes. “Then go to class!”6 Comments