Dryden dominates the collegiate scene
The 1967 ECAC Championship Game

By Mark Weisenmiller

Records in hockey — whether they be in amateur, college, minors, National Hockey League (NHL), or Winter Olympic play — come and go as often as the seas change tides. Yet a glance at a record book of statistics from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men's Hockey championship games shows the following: Fewest goals allowed — Ken Dryden, Cornell, 1967 (74 saves in two games).

The teams that played in the 1967 NCAA Division I men's hockey championship were Cornell University and Boston University. Inevitably, any look back at the exceptionally talented Cornell teams of the middle and late 1960's revolves around Dryden. The 6' 4", 205-pound Dryden covered most of the net by simply standing in the goal crease. When one also notes that Dryden had exceptional reflexes, a lightning-fast glove hand, and was surrounded by multi-talented players, he was virtually invincible.

His major collegiate career statistics are 76 wins, 4 losses, and one tie, with a 1.59 goals against average (GAA) in three varsity seasons. Dryden continued his amazing success when he was the starting goaltender for the powerhouse Montreal Canadiens teams of the 1970's. This was the only team that Dryden ever played for in his eight -year NHL career. His regular season G.A.A. NHL career mark was 2.24. Incredibly, for his NHL career, he recorded more ties (74) than losses ( 57). Along with those two stats, Dryden won 258 career games in the NHL.

The man who brought Dryden to Cornell University was a hockey legend himself. Ned Harkness, Head Hockey Coach for the Cornell Big Red team, was one of the first American college coaches to start to recruit Canadian players. In a January 2, 1967 Sports Illustrated profile of Harkness, reporter Mark Mulvoy wrote the following:

"'Ken,' says his father, Murray Dryden,' thought he was going to Princeton, but Ned talked him out of it. He sold the school to all of us, and he kept saying that he was building for a national championship. Ken never did get to Princeton.'"

Harkness recruited Dryden out of the latter's home region of Hamilton, Ontario. Harkness was also the reason why forwards Dave and Doug Ferguson (who were twins), their brother Bob Ferguson, forward Mike Doran, and defensemen Harry Orr and Walt Stanowski decided to play for the Big Red.

Cornell's only 1967 regular season loss was to Yale. In the opening round of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship playoffs that year, Cornell destroyed Brown by a score of 11 to 2. Tallying points for the Big Red during this March 7 evening game was Doran (three goals), Bob Ferguson (three goals), and Doug Ferguson (two goals).

The Boston University (BU) Terriers were the Big Red's opponent in the ECAC championship game. They were coached by Jack Kelley, a strict disciplinarian in the fundamentals of hockey — as was Harkness. During the 1967 regular season schedule, the two teams played each other once. The game was dramatic yet indecisive: a 3-3 double overtime draw.

Some of BU's top players were Fred Bassi, Jim Quinn, Mike Sobeski, and especially defensemen Brian Gilmour, who was an outstanding two-way player.

The ECAC championship game was played during the evening of March 11, 1967. The Big Red had the disadvantage of playing the game in the Boston Garden and thus the majority of the audience was pro-BU.

Nearly 14,000 people watched the game in the Boston Garden, more than twice the average amount of people who usually attended an American college hockey game in the 1960's.
From the opening face-off, both teams skated and checked hard. Neither team scored during the first period of play, but five penalties were called, indicating the intensity of play. Cornell's Orr was called for two of these penalties.

The Big Red's Dave Ferguson scored first, but BU's Quinn scored twice in the second period. As the second period ended and both teams went back to their locker rooms in " da Gahden" (as Boston residents used to call the arena), the BU Terriers definitely had the most momentum of the two clubs.

What then happened to the Terriers during the third period was something that any person who has ever coached ice hockey — from pee-wee leagues to Winter Olympic tournament play — has had to address. That is: overly-zealous players fired up with enthusiasm on a team that is winning a game being called for stupid penalties.

BU's player's came on to the ice at the start of the third period with a zest and determination that can only be compared to the U.S. General George Patton-led ground soldier forces marching their way through Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. The Terriers were quickly called for penalties, by game officials Bob Cleary and Bill Stewart, and found themselves with two men in the penalty box.

Whenever one team has a 5-on-3 power play over another team, the latter is usally doomed to let up a goal. That's what happened to the BU Terriers. Doug Ferguson scored on a back-hand shot, with an assist from his brother Dave, and the game was tied at 2-all.

The Big Red's Pete Tufford, who was a sophomore, took a pass from fellow team-mate and sophomore Ted Coviello at the 6.17 mark of the third period and scored. Cornell 3, Boston University 2. Despite being thoroughly out-skated by the Big Red, the Terriers did not give up. Even when the Big Red's Mike Doran scored his second goal of the game, at the 11.55 mark of the third period, the Terriers refused to quit. Sophomore Mickey Gray scored a goal for BU and it appeared that the Terriers might be able to fight back and tie the game.

Question: Why did they not? Answer: Ken Dryden. Again and again the Terriers fired shot after shot at Dryden and again and again he stopped them all. Final Score: Cornell 4, Boston University 3.

As "New York Times" writer Deane McGowen noted in his March 12, 1967 story, "By winning, Cornell qualified for the National Collegiate championship that will be played in Syracuse next Thursday through Saturday. Boston University also will make the trip as the East's second representative." As fate would have it, both teams won their NCAA playoff games and thus Cornell had to replay Boston University for the 1967 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship.

For all practical purposes, the ECAC game was the REAL championship game, not the game played at the War Memorial arena in Syracuse, New York. About 6, 500 people saw the Big Red completely dominate the Terriers in the NCAA championship game in Syracuse. Cornell won, 4-1, and thus became NCAA champs.

Most of the players on both squads moved on with their lives after graduation from their respective universities and left playing competitive hockey. Ken Dryden was a different story; he stayed in the sport and had a glorious NHL career.

Perhaps that's because Dryden was an original, in many aspects involving hockey, and originals usually have long, productive hockey careers.

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