Heightening a rivalry that’s come to define the Boston sports scene in recent years, BU and BC will square off across two sports this weekend. The battle will be on both ends of Commonwealth Avenue as the men’s hockey and basketball teams duke it out.
With both hockey programs vying for supremacy in the Hockey East, this weekend’s two Terriers-Eagles games—at Conte Forum on Friday and Agganis Arena on Saturday—figure to be especially exciting. BC is currently first in the HEA, with the third-place Terriers close behind.
It’s a given for the Terriers that there’s something special about the BU-BC tradition, especially since the teams have become so competitive over the past several seasons. BU won the NCAA championship in 2009, and BC earned it in 2010.
“Just the history of the rivalry—it’s one of the best in college hockey and all of college sports,” says forward Wade Megan (CGS’11, SHA’13). “I love it personally. There’s always a great crowd, and you just get a little more excited and a little more ready when you play BC.”
Defenseman Adam Clendening (MET’14) says the rivalry is something new players pick up on almost immediately.
“You come to BU and you know you’re supposed to hate BC, and once you get into the game, the emotion starts going quickly,” he says. “The biggest thing is that it gets you going—the rivalry games are why you go to BU and BC.”
The Eagles will likely be out for revenge this weekend after losing to the Terriers in a 5-0 blowout at BC on November 13. That victory sparked a four-game winning streak for BU, who most recently defeated Cornell in overtime at last weekend’s Red Hot Hockey game at Madison Square Garden. The Terriers now find themselves ranked 13th in the nation (BC is ranked 2nd).
Megan says the Terriers know it will be difficult facing such a talented team on consecutive days, but says that their familiarity with the Eagles is an advantage.
“It’s tough if the games go into overtime, because they’re usually physical games against BC,” Megan says, “But it’s actually good in a way because you know what you’re getting when you play the same team twice in one weekend.”
Two key components to the rivalry are the head coaches, the Terriers’ Jack Parker (SMG’68, Hon.’97) and the Eagles’ Jerry York, a BC alum. The two played against each other in high school and in college and have been coaching competitors since 1994, when York took the helm at BC.
But while Parker acknowledges that he’s enjoyed facing York for so long, he’s quick to point out that the rivalry is much bigger than any one person–coach or player.
“The BU-BC rivalry really has nothing to do with Jack Parker and Jerry York. This rivalry is between the players, the alumni, and the two campuses,” he says. “In a few years, both BU and BC will have new head coaches, and the rivalry will be just as intense.”
While the hockey teams have a fierce and storied rivalry, basketball games between the Terriers and Eagles are something of a rarity. Saturday will be just the third time the two programs have squared off in the past decade, and the first time since 2004.
Guard Darryl Partin (MET’12) says he’s excited about having an opportunity to compete against BC.
“Anytime you play a school that’s relatively close in your area, you have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. I’ve never played BC personally, but during the summertime I work out with those guys a lot, and Coach Jones has relations with BC, so it’s gonna be fun,” Partin says. Joe Jones came to BU as head coach earlier this year after a year as Eagles’ associate head coach.
Asked about going head-to-head with his former team, Jones says his focus is on his current squad, but admits there’s something special about playing his old program.
“Anytime you play a former colleague or a former friend, it’s always hard,” Jones says. “BC head coach Steve Donahue and I are good friends, and I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and a person. I got to know the guys on that staff very well, and I think of them as family.”
After a rough 0-4 start to the season, BU has won the past three games and Jones says he’s pleased with his team’s progress and is confident that Saturday’s game will rack up another Terrier win.
“I do feel like we’re playing a lot better than we were a week or two weeks ago,” Jones says. “We’ve gotten a lot better in a short period of time, but I do think it’s a steady process throughout the season.”
Guard D. J. Irving (CGS’12) agrees that the Terriers have made strides in recent games. “I think early on we just didn’t know our identity,” says Irving. “Coach Jones’ and former Coach Pat Chambers’ styles are a little bit different, but we just had to get used to it. Now we’re on a roll.”
“It’s going to be a great experience for everyone involved,” predicts Jones. “It’s great for the University, great for our fans and our students. When you play teams like BC, like Northeastern or Harvard, I think they’re exciting for our community and our programs.”
This weekend’s rivalry kicks off today with a pep rally at the George Sherman Union from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. As part of the University’s second Scarlet Fever Day, students are encouraged to come decked out in school colors for the event.
The men’s hockey team plays Boston College at Conte Forum on Friday, December 2, at 7:30 p.m. The game is sold out. The two teams meet again on Saturday, December 3, at 7 p.m. at Agganis Arena. Tickets are $26 for the general public and $19 for BU students, faculty, and staff with a Terrier ID. Purchase tickets at the Agganis Arena ticket office, or online.
The men’s basketball team takes on Boston College at Conte Forum on Saturday, December 3, at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to 15 and may be purchased online.
Ben Carsley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.