|BC hockey ready for Frozen Four championship||04.07.12 at 7:51 am ET|
With four national championships in the last 12 seasons, the Boston College men’s hockey program has been perhaps the most dominant in college hockey in the new millennium, and the Eagles will look to add another trophy to their ever-expanding case as they take on Ferris State in the Frozen Four championship Saturday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Fla.
This year marks BC’s 23rd Frozen Four appearance in program history and its 10th in the last 15 seasons. Not only has the Eagles’ run under the guidance of coach Jerry York been dominant, but BC’s run to the national title game has been a continuation of what has been yet another banner season.
The Eagles (32-10-1) captured both the Hockey East regular season championship and the conference tournament, all while securing the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament in the process. In the tournament’s first two rounds, BC waltzed its way to the Frozen Four with a combination of a Chris Kreider-led offense and a stifling defense that shut its opponents out entirely. In their wins over Air Force and defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth, the Eagles didn’t surrender a single goal, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 6-0.
Though they did let up their first goal of the tournament, perhaps the Eagles’ most impressive win came Thursday with a 6-1 rout of a talented Minnesota squad that had previously outscored its NCAA tournament opponents by a 12-5 margin. The win was BC’s 18th in a row and like it has been for much of that streak, goaltender Parker Milner was a prominent reason why the Eagles found themselves on the winning end against the Golden Gophers.
“It’s just like he’s climbing up the steps,” York told Scott McLaughlin of College Hockey News. “Every game, he gets better and better. It’s remarkable to watch. [Scott] Clemmensen and [John] Muse and [Cory] Schneider, they were always good.
“They never really had a stretch where, ‘Do we have a goalie here?’ or ‘How good’s the goalie?’ We always knew we had a goaltender with them. Parker was really struggling to play at our level. Then all of a sudden, he made all these strides. He’s just improved each week.”
In order to capture the national championship, BC will have to get through a tough Ferris State team on a streak of its own. The Bulldogs (16-7-5), the CCHA champions, have lost just three games since New Year’s Eve. While its run to the Frozen Four championship hasn’t been nearly as dominant as BC’s (Ferris State won its first two NCAA tournament games 2-1 before beating Union 3-1 in the semifinals), Ferris State has not been any less impressive, particularly in the win over a higher-seeded Union team.
Even with a stiff challenge and the grand stakes that await them, the Eagles are just focused on continuing their run, one that they hope ends with the program’s fifth national championship.
“It’s [doing] the little things,” BC captain Tommy Cross said to ESPN about the Eagles’ formula for success. “It’s doing the simple play over and over again. Earlier in the year we were trying to win the game in one shift, and that’s not how it works. Ten good shifts in a row is better than one great shift and one bad shift. So that’s our focus.”
|BC, BU primed for another Beanpot showdown||02.13.12 at 2:21 pm ET|
In the grand scheme of a college hockey season, the Beanpot means very little — it doesn’t improve a team’s place in the conference standings and it doesn’t ensure a good seed or even a berth in the NCAA tournament. But good luck trying to tell that to players on the Boston College or Boston University teams, as the game presents another layer of intensity to a rivalry that can seemingly not have much more venom.
The Eagles and Terriers, who combined have won three of the last four national championships, will look to add to the rich history of the Beanpot and their rivalry Monday night as they take the ice at TD Garden in the Beanpot championship. The game will mark the 41st time the schools have faced off in the Beanpot and the 21st time they have met in the Beanpot title game. In those championships matchups, BU holds a 12-8 edge.
While the Terriers have the overwhelming advantage in all-time Beanpot titles with 29, they have not won the four-team exhibition tournament since 2009, their longest drought since 1994. To add insult to injury, the team primarily responsible for BU’s drought has been the Terriers’ most bitter rival. BC beat BU 4-3 in the 2010 championship game and eliminated BU in the 2011 semifinals.
The Terriers, ranked No. 2 in this week’s USCHO.com college hockey poll, know that they cannot be considered a great team unless they can win a tournament sometimes referred to as the “BU Invitational.”
“You judge a team at the end of the year by what they’ve accomplished and by what they’ve won,” BU coach Jack Parker told the school’s student newspaper, The Daily Free Press. “BU teams aren’t real good teams unless they win some championships. You could be No. 1 in the nation or the No. 1 seed in your league. You can get to the Beanpot final.
“You can do all those things that make you look like you’re about to win a championship, but if you don’t win something, it’s just an OK year no matter what the record is. This team will be judged on what happens from now until March and April. We’ll see who is going to get a chance to win championships in March and April. This is the first one that is available.”
As should come to be expected from two schools that have combined to win nine national championships, BU and BC enter the game ranked among the top teams in the country this season, as the Terriers are ranked No. 2 by USCHO and the PairWise rankings, and the Eagles are slotted third by USCHO and are tied for fourth in the PairWise rankings.