Inside Look: The D12 Derby

By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor

TAMPA — For the first 30 minutes of Friday’s practice, the last one of the year, it was more of the same for Boston College. There were drills utilizing odd-man rushes, with Eagles flying down the ice like lightning. There were drills practicing faceoffs to gain offensive possession off the wins. And there were drills working on creating chances when the puck was dumped into the corners.

Following that, head coach Jerry York brought his team over to the sideboards where he had his whiteboard hanging. While his players took a knee, York diagrammed a play on the board, in the way that any coach would in a classic hockey movie. The Eagles were locked into their coach’s explanation and drawing, as they prepared for the biggest game of the season.

And then, it was time for the D12 Derby.

“Every year, the day before a game we have a shootout, it’s called the D12 Derby,” explained senior Barry Almeida.

The contest was set up with a goalie in each net, as the players took a knee along the boards in the neutral zone. All the pucks were gathered at center ice. One by one, starting with the freshmen, a player would pick up a puck and skate into the zone in a shootout with the goalie. Dekes, dangles, and stick work were all on display, as the Eagles tried to sneak a goal by the netminder. If they did, they’d skate back to center ice and take a puck in the other direction for another shootout attempt.

(Graham Beck / Heights Editor)

First, the freshman took their aim. Destry Straight, Cam Spiro, and Mark Begert all got the first goal, but none of them could convert on the other end. The same went for Kevin Hayes, Isaac MacLeod, and Brooks Dyroff, though Dyroff came the closest to scoring the finisher.

Finally, Patch Alber came through and lit the lamp on both sides of the ice. After hearing the cheers of his teammates, he skated over to the sideboards across from where everyone else was set up.

Next was Almeida, who nearly joined Alber in the final round. He scored on his first shot, but was snubbed the second time around, as fellow senior Chris Venti got a stick on the puck right before Almeida was about to sneak it by him.

“Yeah, Venti…” Almeida said laughing. “He had the poke check there … he can’t do that. No, I’m just kidding, it was a good stop.”

Tommy Cross then took aim and capitalized on his first attempt, before getting stuffed on his second shot.

That finished the first round, leaving Alber as the only shooter left standing in the final round. Alber had a chance to win the contest for his team. With Pat Mullane starting it, the Eagles (including the coaches) chanted Alber’s name while slapping their sticks on the ice at the same time. Alber took off into the zone, with York and the rest of the team following in behind him. A few dekes later, Alber took his chance, but he was turned away at the net.

(Graham Beck / Heights Editor)

The four BC goaltenders erupted in celebration while the rest of the team looked on. The winners then posed for a photo with their goalie coach, Jim Logue, as the shooters looked on booing.

After that, the Eagles finished up a few final shooting drills before heading back to the locker room.

The title of the event gets renamed each year, as a senior winner gets to pick the name.

“At the beginning of the year, a senior goes and gets to name the belt,” Almeida said. “Tommy Atkinson won it this year, and named it the D12 Derby because all of our seniors live in D12 Rubenstein.”

The energy and excitement on the ice was high throughout the hour-long practice, as the Eagles were soaking up their last one before the National Championship on Saturday night.

“It’s the best practice of the year, just because it’s our last one,” Almeida said. “It’s the last possible practice you could have. It was a lot of fun, and there was a lot of energy out there today.”

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