Eagles Earn No. 1 Overall Seed In NCAA Tournament
Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Boston College is the No. 1 overall seed in the 2012 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament, as the brackets were announced yesterday afternoon. The Eagles will take on Air Force Saturday at 4 p.m. in Worcester, beginning their attempt to claim a fifth national championship.
“It’s always an exciting day, I think, for the players and fans and coaches, that selection show,” said head coach Jerry York after his team gathered in the locker room to watch the show. “Coming off a St. Patrick’s Day victory in the Hockey East Championship and going right into the selection show is a terrific time to be associated with our program.”
BC is in the midst of a 15-game winning streak, but the team stressed the importance of seeing the national tournament as a new season and not just relying on its recent success.
“I can’t believe it’s been 15 in a row,” said senior captain Tommy Cross. “But I think we put those in our back pocket and move on. There are 16 teams that have a chance to go on a four-game winning streak, and whoever does that is going to get a trophy. That’s the way we’re looking at it. We’re starting a new win streak. We’ve learned a lot over the past 15 games, but our main goal is to win the next game and put together four in a row.”
York echoed his captain’s feelings, but noted that those 15 wins can help in different ways come tournament time.
“I think we’re proud of [the 15-game win streak] because it means we’re playing good hockey,” York said. “A lot of the games have been tightly contested games, where we had to make good plays to win them. That builds your confidence as a team. Now, we’re starting from scratch. Everybody’s starting 0-0.”
Air Force will carry a 21-10-7 record into Saturday’s game, and is coming off an Atlantic Hockey Championship. The Eagles have seen the Falcons play this year, but it came during the opening weekend of the season at the Ice Breaker Tournament.
“They were in the Ice Breaker at the beginning of the year,” said senior captain Barry Almeida. “They played two hard, one-goal games against North Dakota and Michigan State, so we know they’re going to be tough.”
“Air Force, we were really impressed with at the beginning of the year in Grand Forks,” Cross said. “They’ve only gotten better since then.”
Even though the Falcons come in as the No. 16 seed overall in the tournament, BC will not be taking them lightly.
“We understand that the team that plays the very best that night advances,” York said. “We’re not going to base anything on the seeds. We understand that this is a mini-tournament that leads to Tampa and the Frozen Four. It’s our goal to win this mini-tournament and go to Tampa.”
The Eagles only have to look to last year for a reminder of how quickly an impressive season can go down the drain. As a No. 1 seed, third overall, BC was dropped by Colorado College in St. Louis by a score of 8-4 in its first game of the tournament last year.
“The older guys know what it feels like to be on the winning end and the losing end like last year,” Almeida said. “It’s one and done—you gotta play your best hockey. The team that plays the best is going to move on.”
The team is excited to be playing just an hour away from campus instead of having to travel to the Midwest like last year, however.
“Going out to St. Louis last year wasn’t what we expected, wasn’t what we wanted, but we’re excited to go to Worcester like we did a few years ago,” said senior captain Paul Carey.
As nice as the local regional will be, York knows that their play on the ice will be more important than the location of the arena.
“We’ve been at Worcester on multiple occasions. It’s great for our fan base, it’s great for parents of players because it’s so easy to get to,” York said. “But everything is played within the glass, and the proximity goes out the window once you start the game. But it was nice to be local for us.”
The other teams in the regional are Minnesota-Duluth and Maine, who both present a potentially challenging Sunday night quarterfinal matchup if the Eagles can get past Air Force
“We have a really good bracket," Cross said. "We’re excited to be close to home, but there are definitely four really strong teams in our bracket. Obviously, Duluth won [the national championship] last year. Maine, we found out last night Maine has a heck of a hockey team—so four really good teams. It’s a deep bracket, and we’re excited for Saturday.”