Coaches’ Memories

Jim Barrow (head coach, 1972-73 to 1974-75; General Manager, 1975-76)

“In the old days we traveled to games by college van. I drove one van and Artie (Chill) drove the other.  I remember  backing the van out of the facilities motor pool with the door open one  night and crunching the door. The Head of Facilities wasn’t too happy with us the following morning.”

“There was a game at Branch Brook Park Rink when Bobby Hogan scored a hat trick. One of his goals never hit the back of the net.  Bobby fanned on the puck and sent a blistering five m.p.h. slap shot toward the opponent’s net. The goalie came out of the net to clear the puck and whiffed. The puck came to rest about four inches over the goal line.”

“Cutie (John Williamson) had this wicked slap shot. He loved to whistle the puck at goalie’s heads. He even did this to our own goalies in practice. This one time he let go a slap shot at Artie (Chill) from about fifteen feet out in front of the net. But this time, being so close, the puck didn’t have time to rise. It caught Artie right in the chops and he hit the ice like a ton of bricks. I rushed out to see if he was seriously injured. Later he discovered that the shot cracked his magnesium cup. As I was lifting his hockey pants to relieve the pressure, I started to laugh, which made him laugh. Needless to say the laughing made it hurt more.”

“I guess nobody will ever forget the playoff game at Wagner when Harry (Maynes) scored the winner in OT. The intensity of the game was hard on the ulcers. Just getting to OT was a miracle. We were down by two with just a few minutes to go.  But these guys wouldn’t give up. They had come too far and there was too much at stake to lay down in the last few minutes. Overtime was even more exciting.  We stopped   a couple of good chances by Wagner. Every time they crossed into our zone, my heart was in my mouth. Then Harry connected. I remember being almost as drained as the players. My voice was so hoarse that I could hardly be heard.   Making the finals against Morris (County College of Morris) was anti-climactic.”

“We traveled to play St.  Francis in Brooklyn at the Abe Starke Rink in Cony Island and the Zamboni broke. They had to clean the ice with shovels and garden hoses. Even a rough ice surface didn’t seem to stop us. I think we scored seventeen or eighteen goals that game.”

“Jimmy Egan was a real good hockey player but an even better hustler. He was working for a sporting goods store and going to school at the same time. We were in the market for gloves and helmets and Jimmy told me he could get us a “great” deal from the store he worked in. He sold us the same type of helmet that Wayne Gretsky wore, stylish but had no padding and Rawlings’ revolutionary new glove with removable palms.  Rawlings makes a great   baseball glove but should not have ventured into the hockey business. Jimmy could easily sell ice boxes to the Eskimos.”

“I remember President Potter’s first ice hockey game. It was at Sport-0-Rama in Monsey, New York. He caught my attention between periods. He was very impressed by the team and the speed of the game. He commented, The young men skate very fast and they strike the ball very swiftly.’ I guess he got ice hockey mixed up with cricket (President Potter was originally from England).”

“The  bonfire  in  the  dorm  area  after  we  won  the second consecutive championship. It was great to see the campus together. They really had something to celebrate.  I remember receiving a letter of “displeasure” from Bob Barth (Dean of Students) the following day. He was quick to criticize the celebration but he failed to   acknowledge the accomplishment that inspired it. My rebuttal, one of my finest works, if I do say so myself, seemed to lay the topic to rest.”

“I was the GM in 1975/76 and I   put out around $1,200 of my own money for practice ice time. We were still a Club team and the financial support from the college was meager in relationship to our needs. The program was growing and the competition was getting better. We needed to practice more than once a week if   we were going to successfully compete. Rather than let the program suffer, I dipped into my own pocket.  Fortunately, there was a happy ending. Not only did we win our second consecutive championship, but I miraculously recovered my investment. Little did I realize how lucrative the Navy game would be? We packed Ice World with over 2,000 screaming, PAYING fans.”

“The fun of “roasting” people at the College’s awards dinners. Even George (President George Potter) was a good sport.”

“The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat (and the feet). The excitement of playing a close game against arch-rivals like Fairleigh (Fairleigh Dickinson University) and Wagner win or lose. The reward of seeing the hard work in practice pay off at game time.  I remember how we struggled in the early years to make the pro­ gram work. Then, in only three short years, we won the first championship for the college. There’s no way to ever forget the game in Ice World when we annihilated an unsuspecting Navy team 10-1. The memories are endless. As for the feet, they seemed to ache more standing for two-and-a-half hours behind the bench in a cold, damp ice rink. But I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.”

“The great fan support. Once we proved ourselves as winners, the stands were always full. Attention at the school was focused around the hockey team. It was great to see the campus rally together.”

“Mostly, I remember the players and the togetherness we felt as a team. There was great unity. They played hard and partied hardy. These talented young men really cared for each other and worked hard as a team. Their dedication won two consecutive championships. I feel honored to have been a part of this legacy.”

Art Chill (goalie 1972-73 to 1973-74; assistant coach, 1974-75; head coach, 1975-76 to 1983-84)

“You have to remember that I have twelve years of memories as a player and coach. I saw 272 of the 273 games played. So my job is to keep the fond memories to fewer than 100.”

“We had just defeated CCM for our (and the College’s) first   championship.  Wagner   College   hosted   the League’s awards dinner at their campus on Staten Island. Head  Coach,  Jim  Barrow,  invited Ramapo College President  George  Potter  to  attend  the  function.  No one had anticipated that he would accept. Much to our great surprise, he not only attended, but he drove! Jim, freshman Harry Maynes, and I (I was Assistant Coach) sat in the back seat. President Potter and his recently married bride, Laurie, were in the front. Off we went to Staten Island. What I remember most is that that they were holding hands on the front seat. There was no sign of self-consciousness to with­ hold their feeling of affection for each other. I found this very touching. Even the president of a college is just like one of the guys. He was in love and he was not afraid to show his affection in public.”

“We were playing RIT in the opening round of their tournament in Rochester. There was a situation where Ramapo left-winger, Paul Guerci, was in the penalty box for two minutes. The team benches were on one side of the ice and the penalty boxes were on the other side of the ice. I looked at the clock and saw that there were thirty seconds left in his penalty. I had just made a line change and wanted him to remain on the ice when his penalty was over. So, I yelled across the ice to the penalty box, “You’re on the ice.” The meaning of my instructions was that when his penalty is over, he was to stay on the ice and not skate back to the bench. HOWEVER, upon hearing ‘You’re on the ice,’ Paul immediately climbed over the boards to head onto the ice.  Needless to say, we had too many men on the ice and Paulie was sent back to the penalty box to not only finish the remaining time on the initial penal­ ty but serve an additional two minutes for the new too many men on the ice penalty.”

“We were playing John Jay College in our building and were a heavy favorite. Phil Lucca was our leading scorer and they were gunning for him from the start. They were taking cheap shots all night.  The farther we pulled away, the dirtier they got. The final straw was when  Phil  was  coming  down  the  boards  and  was speared  in the sternum.  Phil lay on the ice for quite some time until he was carried off the ice. The team was ready to kill someone. As I was walking across the ice back to the bench, our players on the ice were yelling “you’re dead meat number so-and-so.” I yelled at them that I didn’t want any retaliation. We would get our revenge in another way. As I walked past the John Jay bench, I pointed to the John Jay coach and said quietly, “We’re gonna   bury you.”  We demolished them 19-1. Revenge was sweeter that way.”

“In our inaugural year the team practiced with the WHA New York Raiders at Branch Brook Park Rink. I considered myself a fair goalie and was very willing to take these guys on to show off my stuff. Now these guys were either ex-NHL players or young pros hoping to make names for themselves and get picked up by an NHL team. I took my position in goal as they took slap shots from the blue line.  I’d never faced a ninety m.p.h. shot before.   Needless to say the majority whistle past me. I figured let’s move on to break-a-ways. That was even worse. They deked to the left, they deked to the right, and they scored at will. It’s embarrassing to lay sprawled on the ice with your body in one spot of the crease and your jock in another.  I finally got it together in a scrimmage but it certainly cured me of any hopes of being a professional goalie.”

“Calling it quits after eight years as Head Coach was a difficult decision to make.  It was a difficult choice to make on one hand and an easy on the other. The easy part was because it wasn’t fun anymore. The rinks got colder and the practices and games ended too late. Since my heart wasn’t in it anymore, I would only be cheating the players and the program. Once I acknowledged that fact, it was easy to call it quits. The hard part was to leave the players, their families, the excitement of games, the trips to Navy, the many friends I had met. But I left with wonderful memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

“There was the time that Todd (Siben) turned our white jerseys pink. We were at the Naval Academy and we used our white jerseys and socks for the opening round game on Saturday afternoon.  After the game, the wet shirts and socks were supposed to be washed and put away in preparation for the next day’s championship game against Navy. However, in haste to get the team out for dinner that night, Todd allowed the shirts to sit in plastic bags until later that evening. By the time they were finally laundered, some of the red dye had bled and the damage was done.  Despite immediate washing,  the  white  jerseys, the  ones  we  had  to wear  at home  games,  were  pink for  time  immemorial.  We should have changed our nickname from Roadrunners to Pink Panthers.”

“We had joined the ECAC and were having difficulty getting the New England teams to schedule us.  It seems that New York metropolitan area teams carried the reputation as playing “goon” hockey. I was able to talk Head Coach John Dunham of Trinity College (Connecticut) to schedule us. Trinity was one of the more respected programs in New England. After deliberation, he consented.  He later told me that  he remembered  way-back-when when Trinity first started their  program  and  they  had  difficulty in  scheduling established programs and how he was given a chance to prove the quality of the Trinity program. He gave us a shot and we dispelled the stigma of a New York met­ ropolitan goon team.  After that, I had little trouble scheduling games-thanks to John Dunham. We were really never very competitive in the ECAC but we were always tagged as a team with class. We played hard, clean hockey and were a credit to our school. I always tried to emphasize the importance of reputation.  You not only represent your team but your family and your­ self. It was also John Dunham’s influence that helped goalie Mitch Barnfield to be selected ECAC Division III Rookie-of -the Year and Harry Maynes selection to the Second All-Star Team in his first full season at defense. Thanks John, for believing in us.”

“With all of the road trips we made over the years, the trips to the Naval Academy was always the high­ light of the season.  The place just exuded history and tradition.  I  vividly recall the  simple  walks on  those hallowed grounds, eating breakfast and talking with the midshipmen,  going to Mass on Sunday morning with the  splendor  of  the  cathedral  and  the  Navy choir singing the Naval Hymn, playing in Dahlgren Hall Rink with the yellow naval sea  plane hanging over the ice (Dalhgren was a building that was used to build ships once upon a time). Of course the most memorable trip was the year we won the coveted Crap Pot Tournament.  Navy would always schedule an easy opponent in the opening round. In the other opening round game, two teams would beat each other up and the survivor would have to face Navy for the championship. That year we faced the University of Delaware in the opening round. It was an incredibly tough, hard­ hitting game that took a lot out of us. We eventually won 8-7 in overtime. That night, with the team in bed in the visiting team dormitory, we had to contend with a disgruntled Delaware team. In the worst of unsportsmanlike conduct, they made every effort to keep us awake most of the night. In spite of all of the adversity, we beat Navy the following afternoon 7-6, also in overtime. The Navy players and fans were in a state of shock after the game.   Ramapo   President   George Potter sent a letter to each member of the team congratulating him on this incredible feat.  Our achievement was also noted in an article that appeared in the Washington Post heralding our victory over Navy.”

“Another Naval Academy memory I   had was about curfew. I always let the team have dinner on Saturday night in Annapolis. I would set curfew for midnight to be back at the visiting team dorm.  On one trip, I did a check of rooms at about 11:50 and found three guys to be missing. I went downstairs to the entrance of the dorm.  The dorm was across from Dahlgren Hall Rink. However, in between was this football field size lot. I could see off in the moonlit darkness the last of our players strolling at very slow pace.  I looked at my watch and it was 11:58. There was no way that they would make it on time at that pace.  Feeling compassionate, I yelled out in my loudest voice, ‘its 11:5888888.’ Well these guys took off running at an Olympic pace. Huffing and puffing they crossed the “finish line” at the stroke of midnight.  They knew that if they had arrived at 12:01, they wouldn’t be playing the next day against Navy.”

“SUPER TEAM” … there are  so  many  memories about this incredible team that I could probably write a separate  book on just that magical season. I guess the ones that quickly come to mind are my first victory as a  head  coach,  (William  Paterson College,  18-0);  the 10-1 sinking  of an  unsuspecting  Navy team  at  Ice World with over 2,000  crazed Ramapo fans on hand; the championship game against Brooklyn College; the bonfire back at campus …”

“I  guess  there  is  one  ‘Super  Team’  memory  that sticks out  among  the  rest.  This team was so good they seemed to be on auto pilot most of the time. It was difficult to try to motivate them. They knew what they had to do and they did it without much help from me. But there was one time that they needed to be rallied. We were in the opening round of the play­offs against CCNY in the best of three series.  We took the opening game at home and traveled to Riverdale f or game two. A victory would advance us to the finals. The team record 26-0-3. We felt that we were invincible. But on that fateful night, a deflected puck off one of our players into our net in overtime ended our incredible unbeaten streak at thirty-three games and brought the team back to reality. The next night  we  would  have  to  play CCNY again  for  the right  to  advance  to the  finals.  All the way back to campus the bus was dead silent. This team had never faced defeat that season.  I was concerned as to how I would rally them. What could I say? The last thing I said to them that night was “Remember how it feels to lose but tomorrow think how great you’re gonna feel then night after you blow their f …in’ doors off.” To ensure the victory I had the team get to our rink a few hours before game   time.  Harry’s (Maynes) father got NHL highlight films f or the team to view in the locker room. The films contained the hardest hits and spectacular goals of that season.  This team was so pumped up; we blew out CCNY 7-2.  From that point on, the victory over Brooklyn in the finals was a cake walk.”

“Probably the most unforgettable memory I have, and probably the one most mentioned by other players is the overtime Wagner victory in the first round of the first championship   season.   We were even at one game   apiece   heading   back to   Wagner’s   rink in Elizabeth.  With   less than three minutes we were down by two. Incredible determination and never say die hustle   were   not   going   to be denied.   Beefy (Dennis  O ‘Keefe) cut the  score  to  5-4  wi th  about three  minutes lef t in the game and Tommy  (Suarez) knotted  the game  at five with just forty-two seconds remaining in regulation time. We came off the ice for a breather before sudden death overtime began.  We went off to a corner of the lobby to regroup. I was Assistant Coach and my responsibility was conditioning and motivation. This team was physically exhausted.  I  honestly  don’t  remember  the specifics of  what  I  said.  I do remember trying to keep the emotions high; don’t let them come back to earth. Keep them pumped. They came out like a team possessed.  Harry (Maynes) scored his fourth goal of the game in overtime to advance us to the finals against CCM. With the momentum of the Wagner victory to spur them on, we swept CCM for the school’s first championship.”

“We were playing Iona in the 1976-77 finals. We were going for our third consecutive championship. Even though we were defending champs, we were the underdog playing at Iona’s home rink. It was a double elimination setup.  With one loss and Iona none, we had to win two and Iona had to just win the first game. We played them hard but lost 7-4. What I  remember most  about  that  night  was  the  atmosphere   in the locker  room after  the game.  I was as proud of this team who didn’t win the championship as the two previous winners. I remember telling them to walk out the rink with their heads held high. They should be proud of the way they fought. They never gave up until the final buzzer went off.  I remember there were a lot of consoling hugs and tears and I think I led the pack.”

“We were scheduled to play against St. Francis at Abe Stark Arena in Cony Island, Brooklyn. This was to be another ‘fatten up your stats game.’ We had beaten them 17-1 the week before. At practice a few days earlier, Swami, AKA Spaceman, Dave Townsend said that he knew of a great place in Boston to sharpen skates. So the guys turned their skates over to Dave. He said he would meet the team in Brooklyn the night of the St. Francis game. We arrived about an hour and a half before the game in college vans but there was no sign of Dave. The Spaceman showed up about fifteen minutes before the game with the skates. I think he was there earlier meditating in the back of his van. Could  you  imagine  if  we  had  to  forfeit  the  game because we didn’t show up with our skates? That’s the only way St.  Francis could have beaten us. We shellacked them 18-2.  The way we played, we probably could have beaten them without skates.”

“Whenever we played at Sport-0-Rama, I remember looking across the ice to my left by the goal line just in front of the water cooler. I could always see the friendly faces of Mr. Maynes, Mr. Tricoli, Mr. Guerci, or Mr. Martin. They loved to see their sons play.”

“The old Army rink at West Point, N.Y. was the largest in North America and probably the coldest. We had just beaten the Army-JV 4-3. As the players skated off the ice, our trainer, Tim Sensor, asked me if I wouldn’t mind carrying off the water bottles. It was so cold in the building; the water had frozen in the bottles. Later at the mess hall we were treated to an incredible experience.  It was like dining in a medieval castle. Unlike at West Point, dining with the Middies was dining with your own family. The atmosphere was very simple and relaxed. However, at Army it was still old traditions and very formal.  Plebes stood at attention as the upperclassmen sat first. They had to get permission to sit; they ate by squaring-off their utensils. It was interesting to compare the two academies. They were as different as the land and sea that they defend.”

“The Green Monster, not the wall in Fenway Park but the green school bus that the Athletic Department provided for road games. Tom McPhillips was our driver. It was the most uncomfortable ride you can ever imagine. These were the ECAC days and we had to drive all over New England in the “beast.”  No wonder we lost so many road games in the ECAC. It took two and-a-half periods to get the kinks out. By the time we loosened up, we were so far behind it didn’t matter. There was a time in Worcester when we had gotten to the rink very early for game. Tom dropped us off and decided to fill up the “beast” to save time after the game. Mind you the equipment was still on the bus. Like the Dave Townsend incident in Brooklyn, Tom had difficulty finding an open gas station and got back with about fifteen minutes before the game started. The way we played, it was probably better if he didn’t show up at all. We certainly didn’t. We got shut out 6-0. Then, there was the LONG ride home!”

“There   are   probably  a  couple  of  hundred   more memories  that  I   have  that  neither  time  nor  space would not  allow me  to  include. However, they will remain in my mind and heart forever. Each time we have an alumni game, I   am reminded of another memory.  The  hockey stories  are  mostly the  same, probably  getting  more  exaggerated   each  year  but they’re  always  great  to  hear  one  more  time.  It’s wonderful to see the guys and their families and hear of their successes.  I am proud to have played with some of them, proud to have coached most of them, but I am most proud to be able to call them friends.”