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March 27, 2015

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Page 16 BOSTON POST-GAZETrE, MARCH 27, 2015 by Richard Preiss How Much is That Boxer in the Window? Boxing is a rough sport and boxers are known as some of the toughest guys around. But I have always believed that prizefighters, having such a great outlet for their anger and violent emotions, that it actually allows them to be more gentle and caring in their everyday lives. Some of the kindest people I have met are boxers. Yes, it is a tough sport, but there are also a large number of kind souls involved in it. I thought I would share some photos of fa- mous boxers interacting with their friends from the animal kingdom. It shows this softer and somewhat humorous side so many of them possess. Jack Dempsey and his pug- nosed friend. Jack Sharkey with his best friend. Rocky Marciano and couple of stray buddies. a Primo Camera and sparring partner from Down Under. George Foreman with a feline pal. Jack Johnson and wife taking a ride with Fido. Joe Frazier and running companion. Max Scheming with his Schnauzer friend, German of course. Ezzard Charles learning to relax. Jim Jeffries taking a break with his buddy. Max Baer and his fine feathered friends. As the clock wound down on the 31st annual Hockey East Championship Game at the Garden, you knew things over on Commonwealth Avenue were gearing up. Gearing up because BU was back -- back from the netherworld of college hockey, back from the Diaspora of the last several years and perhaps most im- portantly, back where its fans feel it should have been right along -- back on top. Yes sir, that's where the Terriers were -- up at the top of things following their vic- tory over UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East title game that attracted over 13,000 parti- sans to see BU battle a UML squad that was in the title contest for the third straight year. But, when it was over, all over, it was second year head coach David Quinn and his players that were all smiles. And those smiles had been quite a long time in coming. Not since back in 2009, when BU famously defeated Miami of Ohio in the National Championship Game down in Washington, D.C., had there been this much hockey euphoria on the campus that stretches along Common- wealth Ave., almost a geo- graphical reminder of the length of the Terriers' heri- tage in the game. Quinn was the associate head coach with the 2009 team and, of course, can re- call the famous ending where BU scored two goals in the fi- nal minute to tie the game and then captured the crown with a goal in overtime. That was special -- it led to a victory parade on campus -- but so was this because way back in September Quinn felt he had a special team, one that if everything fell into place, had the chemistry, the talent, the characteristics to be a contender on the na- tional level. Way back then, there weren't many hockey observ- ers buying into that line of thinking. But the players bought in and things began to turn around from last year's poor showing, a season in which BU won only 10 games. The Terriers captured the first trophy of 2015 -- The Beanpot -- at the Garden on February 23 and then claimed the Hockey East regular sea- son title with a 14-5-3 record in conference games, the ninth regular season title in the history of the program. That propelled BU into the top seeded position entering the tourney. From there the Terriers swept Merrimack in a best-of-three quarter-final series and then posted a 4-1 victory over New Hampshire in the semifinals at the Gar- den. Ahead sat UML, a squad that has come into national prominence under head coach Norm Bazin. The River Hawks (22-I 1-6 overall) were the only team in Hockey East to advance to the Garden in each of the last three years, winning back-to-back Hockey East Tournament champion- ships (2013 and 2014) in the process and earning a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four last season. UML was also a team that had lost both regular sea- son games to BU this year. This would be no different as BU (25-7-5 overall) scored a 5-3 triumph to walk away with its first Hockey East crown since 2009. The indi- vidual star was freshman Jack Eichel, who scored two goals and adde~ an assist. That performance, plus com- plete tourney totals of 6-5-11, earned him the tourna- ment's MVP Award. If BU makes it past the NCAA Northeast Regional, the Frozen Four at the Gar- den in April will probably be the last time Eichel suits up in a BU uniform. Following the completion of the Hockey East Tournament, Eichel was leading the country in indi- vidual scoring with 66 points in 36 games while the Terri- ers as a team were first in the nation, averaging 3.89 goals per game. He is ex- pected to be picked high in the fn-st round during the up- coming NHL Draft in June. "No one else has come into college hockey with as much fanfare as Jack, "said coach Quinn at BU's victory press conference. "And no one else has handled it as well as Jack could possibly have handled it. He knows he's good. But there's a humility to him. He doesn't offend people with his confidence. It's not cocki- ness. All great athletes know they are good, but it's how you carry yourself and no one car- ries himself better than Jack." Indeed, at the formal press conference, Eichel appeared quite humble, giving very short answers to questions. It was almost as if he didn't want the spotlight on himself. But it is and it will continue to be on BU and the five other New England schools as the NCAA Regionals are played. In addition to the Terriers, Boston College, Providence, Harvard, Yale and Quinni- piac earned berths on Selec- tion Sunday. Thus, the re- gion has six teams entered in the 16-team tournament with four of those 16 advanc- ing to the Hub for the Frozen Four. BC, Providence and Harvard are on one side of the bracket while BU, Quinni-piac and Yale are on the other. We may be getting ahead of ourselves, but could you imagine if BU and BC played for the National Champion- ship in Boston? That would be the biggest college game in history. Or how about a Harvard-Yale game for the title? Even if they came about in the semifinals those would be huge games. They may not happen but as this was being written they were still in the mix of the many possibilities that could occur. At any rate, some team's dreams will become a real- ity this spring in Boston, that's for sure. ! WWW.BOSTON POSTGAZETTE.C( )M '<