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April 12, 2009 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

The Emotional Roller Coaster

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The hug said it all.

After the teams had finished shaking hands, including the two coaches, Boston University coach Jack Parker went back to Miami coach Enrico Blasi for some final words.

As they embraced near the blue line in front of the Miami bench, with all the players having gone in opposite directions by then, the coach that started his career at BU the year after Blasi was born, tried to give some words of comfort to the man he had just beaten in one of the biggest emotional roller coasters anyone could experience in sports.

"Hey that was an unbelievable game," Parker said to Blasi. "To lose that game the way you did — we're so fortunate to have won it the way we did — that the opposite side, it must be tough to watch. But you had a helluva game and a helluva run."

Blasi was clearly touched by the sentiment.

"Obviously Jack's a classy guy," Blasi said. "He's been around long enough. That game could've gone either way. All their coaches repeatedly said, that was one of the best games they've (seen) played all year. Both sides left it on the ice."

Meanwhile, in the locker room, Miami players were trying to make sense of being 59 seconds — and a two-goal lead — away from the school's first national championship.

"The sun will come out," the players said in the locker room after, some of them cracking a smile — laughing to stop from crying. Others sat, still angry. Others remained staring in stunned disbelief.

As we've seen repeatedly in this postseason — to quote St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh — sports is cruel, and that's what makes it exciting. And, as it can only be in sports, for every triumphant winner, there is an agonized loser.

"Everybody goes home as a loser instead of the one that wins the championship," Parker said. "(Fifteen) teams lose, and it's a hard pill to swallow. Couldn't be worse for Miami tonight the way they lost."

The emotion of the moment was everywhere.

It was in Miami goaltender Cody Reichard, kneeling on the ice, sobbing, after allowing the game-winning goal in overtime. His teammates surrounded him for minutes, trying to console him.

"It just wasn't meant to be and I'm just so proud to be your teammate and to be a RedHawk," forward Tommy Wingels told him.

It was in Blasi, holding it together during the post-game press conference, when asked about the comparisons to last year's team, losing a similar heartbreaker in the regional final. And Blasi, after composing himself, switched gears — leaning on his pride to avoid dwelling on the heartbreak.

"I would say that it's worse, obviously," he said, before taking a lengthy pause. "And this senior class has won more games, I believe, than any other program in the country in the last four years. I would say that's pretty damn good."

It was in the locker room, where senior Bill Loupee went one by one around the room, holding a long embrace with each of his teammates, telling him how much he loved them. It's a tradition for the seniors.

"I was just going around thanking the guys for giving me the best end to my career that I could've possibly imagined," Loupee said. "Especially Cody. I just told him, he's got nothing to be sorry for. He already carried us through this tournament. And he gave me the best senior year I could've hoped for."

It was in Blasi, holding his daughter in the arena corridor, talking to his wife, looking for comfort in the areas that really matter. His wife was describing the final goal to Blasi, a goal he didn't see when it happened.

"Someone told me it rainbowed in," Blasi said. "I was just confirming it. Sometimes it's not meant to be.

"It's a hard pill to swallow. But ... we'll get through it. Sometimes life gives you the opportunity to look at something (a different way). But we'll get through it."

Yes, the sun will come out ... eventually.

"Everything happens for a reason," Loupee said. "We lost that game, and it gave us the motivation to bring us all the way to an NCAA championship game.

"Maybe some day I'll see the reason for us losing this one, too."
 

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