In Boston, rivalry is a big word. There’s the Red Sox-Yankees, the Celtics-Lakers, and the Bruins-Canadiens, just to name a few. But don’t forget about Boston College-Notre Dame, which will take center stage this weekend.
The Eagles and Fighting Irish are best know for their battles on the football field, which will take place this Saturday night at Alumni Stadium. But one night earlier, the two Catholic schools will renew the rivalry on ice when the #2 Eagles face the Irish in a rematch of last season’s national championship game.
That game was won by Boston College, 4-1, and it seems to have sparked the ice version of the ‘Holy War.’
“It’s gonna be a lot of fun,” BC senior Andrew Orpik said. “You look at just the whole Holy War aspect between BC and Notre Dame and it makes it pretty special. But then you kinda throw in what happened last year, and we don’t want to dwell on it too much and it doesn’t really mean that much to us, but at the same time it kinda adds a little more flavor to the weekend.”
BC coach Jerry York, who won his third national title last season, believes the rivalry is a bigger deal in terms of football. For many BC fans, the Notre Dame football game is the biggest event of the sports year.
“It’s not football because Notre Dame’s been so good on a national level (in football),” York said. “Certainly we’ve had some success against them over the past number of years, but they certainly haven’t reached that stature yet that they enjoy in football with hockey. But they get back to national tournaments and pretty soon they’ll get that, but they certainly don’t have the history and tradition of their football. So there’s a difference in that regard.”
“I think the whole Holy War thing is more of a football thing,” Orpik added. “But any time you can develop a rivalry like we have with North Dakota and obviously the one we have with (Boston University). Those are really are main rivalries. This is certainly a school we can throw one up with and it’s always up to scheduling. But if we can start playing them more it’s definitely something that could become a major rival for us.”
York believes the hockey rivalry could reach that point someday, but the Irish will need to maintain the level of play they had at the end of the last season when they reached their first-ever Frozen Four.
“I certainly think as ND’s program keeps appearing in national tournaments, it’s certainly going to be that type of rivalry,” York said. “It’s certainly a great rivalry between two universities that espouse the same principles. And now with Notre Dame appearing in more national tournaments, they’re starting to get that really good feel for two powerful hockey teams going against one another, which is always good for the rivalry.”
Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson, who won two national championships in the 1990s at Lake Superior State, believes that his program has made progress to compete with top programs on a nightly basis, but there is still a way to go.
“Our program needs to build its tradition like Boston College, but we need to recruit and build up (to get to that level),” Jackson said in a phone interview. “I think we can build our program to that point.”