Former University of Maine hockey greats Jim Montgomery, Garth Snow, Mike Dunham and former Black Bears assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Grant Standbrook relived memories while being honored during Hockey East’s 25th year anniversary celebrations at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston this past weekend.
In a vote among fans and the 25th anniversary committee, the 1992-93 Maine national championship team, which went 42-1-2, was named the league’s best team over the 25 years; the late Shawn Walsh earned the league’s best coaching performance for guiding that ’92-93 team to the school’s first NCAA title; and Paul Kariya, the first and only freshman to ever win the Hobey Baker Award given the nation’s best player, was chosen as the league’s best all-time playmaker.
Kariya had 75 assists to go with 25 goals that season.
Montgomery’s hat trick in a span of 4:35 in the third period of their 5-4 NCAA title game victory over Lake Superior State in 1993, which erased a 4-2 deficit, was chosen the second best individual performance. Providence College goalie Chris Terreri’s 65-save performance in a 2-1 double-overtime win over Boston College in the first Hockey East title game in 1985 beat out Montgomery.
The best goalie of all time as chosen by the fans and committee was Terreri, the best goal scorer was Boston College’s Brian Gionta, the best defensive defenseman was BC’s Brian Leetch, the best defensive forward was BU’s Chris Drury and the unsung player was BC goalie Scott Clemmensen.
“That 1992-93 team was a great team,” said Montgomery, who is now an assistant coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. “We intimidated people when our bus would pull up.”
“At the [American Hockey Coaches Association] convention in Naples [Fla.] two years ago, they said the average game was producing 6.1 goals per game. We averaged 6.7 [6.49] ourselves. That put things into perspective,” Montgomery added.
He also said that was the “most intelligent team we ever had.”
“Everybody on the team had hockey smarts. It was really incredible and the team was so unselfish,” added Montgomery.
He doesn’t expect their record to be challenged “because the goaltending position has become so dominant. Goaltenders are so much more athletic now and their equipment is bigger. They can steal more games than they could back in ’93,” noted Montgomery.
Montgomery racked up 95 points that season and he was a Hobey Baker Award finalist and an All-American.
Montgomery and Kariya were linemates along with Cal Ingraham, who set a single-season record with 46 goals.
“Cal was a special player. He didn’t receive enough recognition,” said Montgomery.
Montgomery considers Kariya the “best player of all time.”
“Nobody put college hockey on the map and on his back like he did,” said Montgomery.
He also said Walsh was fully deserving of his accolades.
“The combination of Paul and Shawn is why we lost only one game that season. They brought us to another level,” said Montgomery.
“Shawn was so prepared. He analyzed and looked at every individual and every component of the team and made sure he didn’t leave any stone unturned,” said Montgomery. “He was such a good teacher and was a great communicator. He could teach a whole new system and players could grasp it within a couple of repetitions.
“He made people see the big picture and empowered them. He made them understand what their role was and how vital they were to the success of the team,” added Montgomery.
He praised Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna and league officials for their handling of the festivities, which included being introduced to the fans.
“They did a fantastic job making us feel special. It’s such a classy league with how they treat their former players and current players and the whole environment down there,” said Montgomery, who went to dinner with Dunham, Snow and Standbrook.