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Jack Parker's Wiseguys

The National Champion BU Terriers, the Blizzard of ’78, and the Road to the Miracle on Ice

Tim Rappleye

Over the winter of 1977–78, anyone within shouting distance of a two-mile stretch of Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue—from Fenway Park to the trolley curve at Packard’s Corner—found themselves pulled into the orbit of college hockey. The hottest ticket in a sports-mad city was Boston University’s Terriers, a team so tough it was said they didn’t have fans—they took hostages. Eschewing the usual recruiting pools in Canada, Jack Parker and his coaching staff assembled a squad that included three stars from nearby Charlestown, then known as the “armed robbery capital of America.” Jack Parker’s Wiseguys is the story of a high-flying, headline-dominating, national championship squad led by three future stars of the Miracle on Ice, the medal-round game the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team won against the heavily favored Soviet Union. Now retired, Parker is a thoughtful statesman for the sport, a revered figure who held the longest tenure of any coach in Boston sports history. But during the 1977–78 season, he was just five years into his reign—and only a decade or so older than his players. Fiery, mercurial, as tough as any of his tough guys, Parker and his team were to face the pressure-cooker expectations of four previous also-ran seasons, further heightened by barroom brawls, off-the-ice shenanigans, and the citywide shutdown caused by one of the biggest blizzards to ever hit the Northeast. This season was to be Parker’s watershed, a roller-coaster ride of nail-biting victories and unimaginable tragedy, played out in increasingly strident headlines as his team opened the season with an unprecedented twenty-one straight wins. Only the second loss of the year eliminated the Terriers from their league playoffs and possibly from national contention; hours after the game Parker’s wife died from cancer. The story of how the team responded—coming back to win the national championship a week after Parker buried his wife—makes a compelling tale for Boston sports fans and everyone else who feels a thrill of pride at America’s unlikely win over the Soviet national team—a victory forged on Commonwealth Avenue in that bitter, beautiful winter of ’78.

E-book: $19.99
ISBN-13: 9781512601657
Pages: 248 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: December 12, 2017
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Reviews

  • The city of Boston in the 1970s was the hub of the hockey world. The Bruins were hot and so was the college game throughout New England. Jack Parker's Wiseguys tells the story of some of the best college players of that era as well as that of their legendary coach. A terrific read for fans and players familiar with that rough and tumble hockey vintage.

    Bobby Orr
  • Anyone who has coached as long as Jack did at one elite university shows that he is a competitor that brings out the best in his players. I was lucky to benefit from his passion for the game.

    Keith Tkachuk
  • Jack Parker's Wiseguys brought back fond memories of the Dugout Cafe, an important part of the fabric of BU hockey. Parker is why I remain a Terrier for life.

    Mike Sullivan
    head coach, Pittsburgh Penguins
  • This is a must-read book about a Division I hockey dynasty and its Hall of Fame coach. To this day Jack Parker has the respect and love of all his players.

    Lou Lamoriello
    general manager, Toronto Maple Leafs

About the Author

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