They will rank right up there with the magical moments in UNH men's hockey history. Up there alongside the night Cliff Cox '76, Gordie Clark '74 and Jamie Hislop '76 gave a lesson in three-on-three hockey play to RPI and a screaming Snively Arena crowd. Up there with the night they closed old Snively down with a 6-5 double overtime win over Boston College.
As much as UNH hockey fanatics love to dust off the memories of certain nights, surely March 5 and March 6, 1999, have entered the archives. They were the nights the University of Maine came to town to play for the Hockey East regular season championship. The nights that a thunderous capacity crowd of at least 6,110—most dressed in white in a show of support—turned out to rock the arena with cheers for the Wildcats, and jeers for the Black Bears.
They were nights created, at least in part, some eight months earlier and thousands of miles away from Durham in Fernie, British Columbia.
Hockey is, of course, every bit a team game and one person does not a team make. But the Wildcats had already lost a ton of offense from 1998 and could not afford to lose more. And now Jason Krog, the last of the 1997-98 big guns and a "prolific playmaker" in the words of UNH coach Dick Umile '72, was on the fence. Should he stay for his senior year and be a captain, or should he take an offer and go pro? Should he stay and get his degree on time, or finish up his education later?
He asked for input from his mother, Bonnie, and father, Lanny. It was up to Jason, said his mother. "If they wanted him last year, they'd want him this year," she said. Going back to finish school in the summer is nothing like having your senior year. Being captain for the first time, she felt, would be great for her shy son.
"Thank God he did," said Umile.
Thousands of UNH hockey fans were grateful as well. Jason Krog, smoother than smooth and strong on his skates, never had any second thoughts about his decision and put on a show all season. Especially that weekend. He scored three goals and had three assists, and UNH wiped out Maine 6-1 and 4-1. He followed up by leading UNH back into the Frozen Four, the NCAA's championship round and then the title game. And just for clinchers, he won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's best player.
Friends and family say Krog has quite a sense of humor. To those less close to him, he comes across as very quiet. There is little doubt he is serious about his hockey and his future. He interned with a financial services company this semester. He will graduate with a degree in business administration and had a 3.34 grade point average. He finds the stock market interesting.
But first he will give professional hockey a shot until he gets stuck somewhere and figures he's not going to advance further. "If that happens, I'll know it's time to move on and get a job in the real world," he said.
With his skills, work ethic and ability to rise to challenges as he gets comfortable in new surroundings, Umile thinks Krog may not get stuck anywhere; that he could easily end up in the National Hockey League. The Hobey Baker certainly brought him added attention.
It was late in the season and Krog was asked about his Summer of '98. Was he, as rumors had it, offered a million dollars back then to go pro?
Krog, all business up to that point in the conversation, broke into a smile. "A million?" he laughed. "See ya."
Soon UNH's season was over, and six or seven teams were reportedly interested in Krog. Exactly one week after UNH lost to Maine in the title game, Krog signed a two-year contract with the New York Islanders--for about a million dollars a year.
Bonnie Krog was right.Return to UNH Magazine Campus Currents