Saturday, April 10, 2010

Boston College 2010 NCAA Champs

Looks the NCAA Championship trophy is just going back up the Green Line.

Boston College won its fourth national title ever, and second in three years, with tonight's dominating performance in a 5-0 win over Wisconsin before a record crowd of 37,592 at Ford Field in Detroit. The Eagles again blew the game open in the third period, tallying two goals in a span of 2:02 to make it 3-0, and then added two more scores to put the favored Badgers and Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Blake Geoffrion away and bring another title back to Chestnut Hill.

Senior forwards Ben Smith and Matt Price each scored goals in their final appearances for BC, with Smith tallying the game-winning goal and also earning Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player accolades, and Price hitting an empty net. Sophomore forward Cam Atkinson scored twice, giving him a nation-best 30 goals, and junior goaltender John Muse stopped all 20 shots he faced, including several tough ones early on, in earning the shutout and his eighth win in eight career NCAA Tournament games.

Hockey East has now won three consecutive national championships, with BU's victory last year sandwiched between a pair of BC crowns. Since April 2008, the NCAA trophy has figuratively traversed a round trip of just 14 miles - and who knows, it could stay out East again next season.

I'm a little surprised that BC won both games at this year's Frozen Four by such lopsided scores. Wisconsin had a good team, and so did Miami; but speed kills, and BC has plenty of that. Their forwards may be undersized, but they're tough to catch and know what to do with the puck when they get an opportunity. They also know how to string goals together in bunches, as evidenced again tonight, and the freshman defensemen sure look like they grew up fast.

A lot of people wrote the Eagles off after they surrendered seven goals in winning the NCAA Northeast Regional final two weeks ago in Worcester, but apparently BC Head Coach Jerry York and company made the right adjustments over the last two weeks. Besides recruiting players with speed and skill, they also recruit players who buy into the team concept and who play defense - a testament to that was how hard BC players backchecked tonight, even when they had three- and four-goal leads.

They never really let the Badgers get going, or the Red Hawks before them, and now the Eagles are national champions. Again.

The football stadium experiment for the Frozen Four may not have been a complete success, but is there any doubt for college hockey fans that this is the best time of the year? Maybe the NCAA Hockey Tournament doesn't have the national following or media coverage that that other tourney with the bouncing orange ball does . It probably never will, either, but so what? For those of us who love this game, it's our own well-kept little secret. Getting the whole country involved would be nice, but it's not necessary.

The only negative tonight for me and many others is that it's six months until the puck drops again in college hockey rinks. The memories of tonight, though, will last even longer for us Eagle alumni. And this fall I'm going to try to get to BC's Conte Forum BEFORE they raise the championship banner, instead of getting stuck in traffic on the Mass Pike.

Congratulations, Eagles, and see you in October.

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