Remembering BGSU’s ‘84 national championship hockey


By Ben Shanahan

Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

Jerry York, in his first year of retirement after finishing off a 50-year coaching career as the winningest head coach in college hockey history, was ecstatic to be back in Bowling Green Saturday, where in 1984, 40 years ago, he won his first of six national championships.

“A lot of great memories,” York said. “It has been a number of years since I’ve been back on campus, and just driving around, the campus looks so much more vibrant with the expansion of new dormitories.

“We had a chance to speak at the business school. It was fabulous to see. It’s great to be here. Some of the relationships we’ve had for 40 years are still in the making.

“I’ve always had chills thinking about this team that went into a national championship game in 1984 and just kept going with overtime and overtime. It was just monumental, I think, for all of us that were involved in it,” continued York.

The 1983-84 team was led by captains Mike Pikul and Wayne Wilson, both seniors on the squad. The Falcons captured a 34-8-2 regular season record and 22-4-2 CCHA record, to then go on and become the NCAA national champions.

At one point in the season, the Falcons tallied a 17-game win streak, spanning from October 23 to January 7 and were ranked No. 1 week after week. Their streak stopped with an overtime victory by Michigan on January 4. The Falcons went on to finish the second half of the season with an 11-3-2 record and win their third consecutive Central Collegiate Hockey Association title.

Message remained the same

The 1983-84 Bowling Green team won the first and only national championship for BGSU in a 5-4 win over Minnesota-Duluth on March 24, 1984, in Lake Placid, New York.

The national title game went into quadruple overtime lasting 97:11. With about two minutes left to play, Wilson dumped the puck around the boards, the UMD goalie skated behind the net to play the puck which took a bounce and popped out in front of the net.

John Samaski tapped the puck in the net to tie the game at four with 1:47 to play in regulation. Gino Cavallini called the game at 7:11 in the fourth overtime when he converted a pass from Dan Kane to back-hand the puck into the net. To this day, the national title game between Bowling Green and Minnesota Duluth is the longest title game in NCAA Ice Hockey history.

As the overtimes went on, York’s message remained the same.

“Let’s go with a hockey game. I was tired. It wasn’t even playing,” York said. “I cannot imagine how Mike Pikul was. It was too bad we could not have the other captain here, Wayne Wilson, who is coaching at RIT and had a game tonight, but the two captains were inspirational guys for us.

“They did a tremendous job motivating the players. But when you get to that point, everyone knows what’s at stake — big shiny trophies. And so it was great to see Bowling Green come across with the win,” added York.

Among BGSU’s elite

The 24 names on the 1983-84 squad all had pivotal roles on the ice. Five players scored 50 or more points, six others had 30 or more and five had scored in the double digits.

On the defensive end, the Falcons held opponents to three goals a game while the offensive unit averaged five goals a game.

While in goal, four goaltenders were rotating in and out of the cage. Goaltender Gary Kruzich was awarded the most valuable player of the NCAA Tournament. Dane Kane (72 points) and Garry Galley (67 points) lead the Falcons’ point production and were selected to the Titan West All-American team.

The CCHA all-star team included Kane, Galley, John Samanski and Dave Ellett. The 1983-84 team was inducted into the BGSU Hall of Fame in 1993. From the coaching staff to the players, the 1983-84 Falcons remains one of the most elite groups to come through Bowling Green State University.

Special group stays close

York, 1979-94 (342-248-31, 250-171-25 CCHA) was entering his fifth season and compiled an 84-65-10 record going into the 1983-84 season.

Going into his fifth season, the Falcons were back-to-back CCHA champions and consistently ranked in the top-10 for the past two seasons. York was inducted into the BGSU hall of fame in 2003.

During the 1983-84 season, York was accompanied by assistant Coaches Buddy Powers and the late Terry Flanagan. Graduate Assistant Peter Johnson was also a member of the staff. Assistant Coach Buddy Powers is currently a Volunteer Assistant for the 2023-24 Falcon Hockey team.

Pikul shared on Saturday how the team to this day is still close, having their own reunions every five years.

“It’s always good to get back together with this group. We get together every five years, but getting in this type of setting with everybody back to Bowling Green in this environment has been a very special day today,” Pikul said.

“A bunch of us came in last night. We had a special time last night, not only at the game here but afterwards telling stories. Of course, every year you get together, or stories change. But again, the group is a special group. And every time we get together, it’s a lot of fun,” added Pikul.

Current Bowling Green coach Ty Eigner, who was a captain during the York era, gave credit of where he is now to his former coach, saying no one is a better person in the hockey world than him.

“I said it to some people the other day. I would not be sitting here talking to you guys if it were not for Jerry York. Everything I have gotten since my freshman year of college till now is because of Jerry and coach Powers, coach Flanagan, Wayne Wilson, my opportunity to come here to Bowling Green,” Eigner said.

“He is a special human being. Today, you could tell, 40 years later, how the players still feel about him. There are a lot of great people in the hockey world, but there are none better than Jerry York.” Said Coach Eigner

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