The Ultimate Northwood Tourney Continues
This quarterfinal matchup pits our greatest team from the ‘70s, Bruce Delventhal’s ’79 powerhouse, against one of two Northwood squads to feature a pair of future NHLers (Craig Conroy and Chris Therien). Tom Fleming coached that 1990 contingent.
Both teams had at least half a dozen future DI stars (an unusually high percentage of them were defensemen) and as many eventual DIII standouts; every line and defense pairing could match well against the opponent’s top lines. Both teams had plenty of size and aggressiveness. Both teams had signature wins: the 1979 team beat New Hampton, then the powerhouse in New England prep hockey; the 1990 team won the prestigious Capitol District tournament against a team loaded with future NCAA stars, the Thornhill Thunderbirds. That game ended with a twenty-on-twenty brawl after Thornhill, with no chance of winning, ran our goalie, Matt Spiegel, with about a minute left. We won the game but did not fare as well in the fisticuffs against an older squad. Fortunately, no one was keeping score.
The three NHLers on the teams – Jay Miller from’79; Craig Conroy and Chris Therien from ‘90 -- all had careers of at least ten years in The Show. The ’79 team also included many future DI stars, including Jeff Baikie and Larry Tobin, both Cornell; Mike O’Neil and Bill Switaj, BC teammates; Doug Smoke, SLU; Joe Bechtel, Ohio State; Rex Bellomey, Notre Dame; Paul Giacalone, U. Maine. At least nine others were standouts in DIII at Union, Salem State, Babson, Plattsburgh, New England College, etc. The ’90 team boasted a similarly deep roster. Jeff Giampetti became captain of Union College (by then DI); Ian Pascowski and Brian Ridolfi wore the C for Providence; Jerry Buckley, for BC. Matt Collins had a solid four-year career at Dartmouth. Mike Lowe and Jim Pinti were integral parts of the Fredonia squad that reached the National Division III finals in 1994.
(It is highly likely that I have left some important information out in this and other articles in this series. In the comments section, feel free to add to my history. Old age has its perks --think of the 10% discount at Dunkin Donuts -- but a perfect memory is not one of them.)
The game itself would be a rumble. These were two evenly matched teams with lots of determination. A toss-up for sure. I’ll call a one-goal win for the ’90 team. My rationale: one extra NHLer. it is hypothetical in any event.