Cavallini From Kane
The stories behind the road to the 1984 national championship
By Lindsay Laurent
Many hockey fans believe the 1984 NCAA Division I hockey national championship game is the greatest game ever played. The lucky fans that were at the game between Bowling Green State University and Minnesota Duluth on that March day persevered through seven periods of action before the Falcon’s Gino Cavallini bested Duluth goalie Rick Kosti for the winning goal.
BGSU’s hockey program built a foundation for success in the late 70s and early 80s. They had such a powerful reputation that top-rated recruits chose to be role players at BGSU, rather than be star players for other programs.
With a tradition so deep that it rivals most hockey towns across the country, it is surprising no one had written a book to commemorate arguably the greatest athletic achievement in Bowling Green State University history.
Dr. Ray Schneider, an associate professor in sport management, was in the BGSU Ice Arena one evening when he started a conversation with a former player that would lead to the creation of a book about the Falcon’s 1984 national championship season.
“One evening I was sitting with Eddie Powers, who was the third string goalie for the 1984 team, at our son’s hockey practice and I asked him if he kept in contact with his old teammates,” said Schneider. “Bob Suter of the 1980 Olympic gold medal team had just passed away and I wanted to know if the members of the 1984 team were still alive and well.
"Eddie and I started talking and we came up with this idea to write a book about the 1984 season. A year later we had a book. It’s funny because it took longer for the team to win the national championship than it did for us to write this book."
The 1984 hockey season was such a special time in so many people’s lives and "Cavallini from Kane" beautifully captures those moments with a string of stories from the 50 individuals who lived through that wonderful adventure. Since Schneider was not in Bowling Green during the 1984 season, he enlisted the help of Powers to help him identify key individuals and connect with past players.
“Once word circulated that we were writing this book, people started contacting me to tell their story,” Powers said. “It was quite amazing how quickly all the players, administrators and fans jumped on board and helped us tell this story.”
Powers, a Bowling Green native, grew up idolizing the players that took the ice in the BGSU Ice Arena. His dad was an off-ice official when he was growing up and he went to almost every game. Therefore, when Powers was offered a chance to play at BGSU, he jumped at the opportunity.
“That rink has been such a big part of my life on so many levels,” said Powers. “So it was really exciting being a part of this book with Ray. It was so nice seeing his excitement as he learned about the guys. He did a fantastic job with the book, and everyone who contributed loved the outcome.”
"Cavallini from Kane" is not just for BGSU hockey fans. The book tells the story of how a diverse group of guys can bond together after a disappointing end to the 1983 season and use “the snub” as a unifying moment to propel the program to its first national championship. It is a story of perseverance and family and captures not only the pulse of the team, but the heart of the community.
“During the editing process people kept asking me why I didn’t include a table of contents,” Schneider said. “I left it out because I want people to read it front to back. The layout was a big concern for me and once I had Jim Lessig’s chapter completed, the rest fell into place. It was appropriate to start with Jim since he was the athletics director that hired coach Jerry York.”
Not only does the book tell the story of the 1984 season, it shows how some of the best collegiate players in the country went from being 10-year-old amateur players to national champions. As a life-long BGSU hockey fan, Powers wanted to communicate why the players chose BGSU and how big of a role the town and the community played during his four years with the team.
“The book is a human interest piece,” Powers said, “it tells the back stories of the individuals involved with that season, about places in town that supported us, and the important role of host families to the players. Bowling Green is a hockey town. As a team we wanted to make sure this book wasn’t just about us. It had to be about everyone involved, from the local business owners to the casual fan.”
For Bowling Green transplants like Schneider, listening to the stories of the fans and the community was the most fulfilling part of the process. For example, anyone who lived in BG during that time will probably remember Mark’s Pub and seeing a hockey player, or two, there on a Friday or Saturday night.
If you head to the BGSU Ice Arena when the men’s hockey team is in town you will still find the same type of enthusiastic crowd that cheered on the Falcons for the 1983-84 season. The Bleacher Creatures will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder cheering the team to victory in the appropriately named “Madhouse on Mercer.” Even though the coach and the players have changed over time, the hockey program still embodies the same essence that was built 40 years earlier, and the community and the fans still play a major role in overall success of the program.
Copies of “Cavallini from Kane" are available for purchase at the Newlove Pro Shop, the BGSU Bookstore and LuLu.com. All proceeds from the sale of the book benefit the BGSU ice hockey program.