The 1984 BGSU hockey team
The 1984 BGSU hockey team
Phil Masturzo (’86)

1984 hockey season: A team worked overtime amidst historic run

In October of 1983, Bowling Green hockey entered their fifth year under coach Jerry York, one of the all-time great coaches in NCAA history. He had completed two winning seasons with Bowling Green, back-to-back in fact, going to an NCAA quarterfinal in 1981-82 and in the following season, he and his Falcons finished first in the CCHA but missed a bid for the NCAA tournament. 

The 1983-84 season turned out to be the best of York’s illustrious career. With an astounding 17-game winning streak, BG finished first in the CCHA with a 34-8-2 record and won all six games against Ohio State and Michigan State, the second and third-place teams in the conference. 

With a great level of momentum, BG entered the CCHA postseason. York and the Falcons rolled through Lake Superior State, winning the two-game total-point series 13-10.  

Their remarkable run ended with the semifinal game against #5 Western Michigan in a heartbreaking 4-3 double-overtime loss. 

A moment forever remembered in BGSU hockey history (Phil Masturzo (’86))

But the dramatic journey of the Falcons had just begun. They received an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament as the third seed in the west. The schedule was set for Boston University in BU’s home arena, where the Terriers had hoisted three national championships within the previous 10 years.  

March 16 arrived, and BG was beaten by Boston 6-3, the two-game total-point series giving the Falcons an outside chance at taking the point total. 

That led to the very next day, March 17, where York rallied his team to a 4-1 regulation victory. The four goals scored by BG sent them into overtime with the series score tied 7-7, setting up captain Mike Pikul for the series winner in the second overtime of a five-goal comeback. 

Advancing to the semifinals, the Falcons headed to Lake Placid, New York, the home of the 1980 Miracle On Ice. In that same Olympic Arena, they met CCHA tournament winner Michigan State for the third time in the season. 

In another nailbiter for Falcon fans, Bowling Green forward John Samanski buried the game-winning goal in the third period, and the team was able to hold off the Spartans 2-1 for a chance at the national championship.  

That year, 1984, both Bowling Green and Minnesota-Duluth made their first National Championship appearance, but the underdog feeling for Bowling Green remained. Minnesota-Duluth had been to the NCAA tournament in 1983, had won their conference in 1984, and was an established hockey city with one of the power programs in college hockey.

Meanwhile, Bowling Green had only two winning seasons in a row, lost in the CCHA playoff series, and was from a small Ohio city with a less-renown hockey history. 

The pattern of BG clawing from behind was extended. Through the first 41 minutes of the game, Minnesota-Duluth had scored three goals in a row and led 3-1. But the Bulldogs buffer soon turned sour. 

44:41 – BG’s Jamie Wansbrough scored. 3-2 

51:51 – Minnesota-Duluth’s Tom Herzig scored. 4-2 

52:42 – BG’s Peter Wilson scored. 4-3 

58:23 – BG’s Samanski scored. 4-4 

Samanski scores a goal for BGSU (Phil Masturzo (’86)

So, the Falcons and Bulldogs went to overtime in sudden death. There was no scoring after the first overtime, none after the second, and none after the third.  

Nearing midnight, the score still tied 4-4 and with only three minutes to play in the fourth overtime, Gino Cavallini scored his 25th goal of the season and the biggest goal of his career with an assist from Dan Kane. 

Cavallini’s goal and the win were legendary for both Bowling Green and the NCAA. The Falcons took the Bulldogs to the longest National Championship game in college hockey history, the next longest a three-overtime game in 1991.  

Not only was the length of the game legendary, but the venue was additionally historic. The oldest players on the ice had been college freshmen when the U.S. beat the U.S.S.R. in the 1980 Olympics, the same ice on which they would be celebrating a national championship only four years later. The Olympic Arena is still arguably the most prestigious venue of the national championship to this day. 

Individually, the game was the first appearance and win for what turned into a legendary career for York. York went on to coach at Boston College from 1994-2022, where he made the championship game eight more times, winning four, becoming the winningest coach in college hockey. 

Fast forward to today, and it’s been 40 years since that memorable night. Coming soon, however, BGSU will honor that 1984 team, coaches, and other contributors on Feb. 24 inside Slater Family Ice Arena, when the Falcons face Michigan Tech.

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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    Andrew PearsonFeb 13, 2024 at 2:29 am

    BGs freshman goalie Gary Kruzich literally SAVED the falcons.

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