It has been a challenging stretch for veteran Boston College bench boss Jerry York.
York, who became the all-time winningest coach in Division 1 Dec. 29 when the Eagles beat Alabama-Huntsville, has been dealing with a medical issue the last few weeks.
On Jan. 10, he had a procedure to correct a detached retina. He missed both games against New Hampshire that weekend. He had to have a follow-up procedure Jan. 14, which sidelined him further.
Although he is back guiding the Eagles, including Monday’s Beanpot semifinal game against Harvard at TD Garden, he is still unable to skate with the team. He expects to be back on the ice on or around Feb. 12.
“It’s been hard,’’ said York, who has 929 career victories after Monday’s 4-1 win over Harvard. “I’ve had the pulse [of the team] but I haven’t been able to get on the ice yet. I have to be a good patient. I’m at a dangerous situation right now, the doctor said. Any jarring or a fall, I start all over again.’’
The doctor said he could go on the ice if York could guarantee that he wouldn’t get hit or lose an edge and fall. York said he couldn’t make that promise so he had to step aside.
His depth perception has been compromised a little bit as he heals.
“I can see out of my left eye, I can’t see out of my right eye,’’ he said.
Despite his limitations, York has had no problem seeing where the Eagles need to improve. Defensively, it has been tough because of the loss of senior blue liner Patch Alber, who has missed the last 11 games with a knee injury. BC also lost freshman Michael Matheson for two games because of a concussion though he returned against Vermont Friday. Freshman Colin Sullivan missed two games with a concussion and was a healthy scratch Monday.
“[Alber] was a top four guy [who played] a lot of minutes,’’ said York. “He helped our breakout and helped our [defensive] zone coverage. But like [Celtics coach] Doc Rivers said, ‘It doesn’t have to be your obituary.’ Someone else can jump in and play, but he’s a significant loss to us.’’
York said he knew the backline would take time to develop because of the number of young players but that has been disrupted because of the injuries.
“We knew going in with [Brian] Dumoulin, [Tommy] Cross, and Edwin Shea [leaving], it was an area we had to address,’’ he said. “So that’s why we moved [forward] Steven Whitney back [to defense].’’
With the return of Matheson, Whitney moved back up front. With the win over the Catamounts, York said he was hoping the Eagles could get on a roll, which would include a Beanpot title. The Eagles have won it three straight years, which means no one on the team has lost one.
“We’re not playing as well as we’d like to play but a lot of that is due to the opposition,’’ said York. “Maine [which swept BC on Jan. 25 and 26] is a pretty good club and they did some nice things during the course of the weekend series whether it was [penalty killing] or goaltending. When we self examine our team, we want to get better in a lot of different areas. Sometimes the opposition takes away those objectives.’’
Against Maine, BC scored just one goal in each game before generating four against Vermont.
“Certainly, we have to score more goals,’’ said York. “And there’s always going to be a good goaltender, that’s part of the nature. You’ve got to earn your goals, they’re not going to give them to us.’’
The coach will be honored during Jerry York Night Friday, when the Eagles host UMass-Lowell.
Harvard, BC’s semifinal foe, received a significant boost with the return of talented freshman center Kyle Criscuolo, who missed 10 games because of broken bone in his hand. He was back in the lineup against Rensselaer last Friday and started the game in the middle on an all freshmen line against the Eagles with Jimmy Vesey on the left side and Brian Hart on the right . . . There were two O’Regans in the Beanpot. Freshman center Danny O’Regan plays for Boston University and sophomore left wing Tommy O’Regan suits up for the Crimson. In the brothers’ only meeting this season, Jan. 9, Harvard upset BU in overtime, 6-5. Tommy had his most productive outing of the season with one goal and two assists. Danny also had a three-point night, including two goals. The two will meet again in the consolation game after Harvard lost to BC in the second Beanpot semifinal . . . BU’s loss to Northeastern, 3-2, in the first semifinal ensures the Terriers’ seniors will not have a Beanpot championship on their résumé. Next Monday, NU will be looking for its first Beanpot title since 1988.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.