Eagles Riding Streak Into Frozen Four
Men's Hockey Begins Final Run For National Title Against Powerhouse Minnesota
Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
A week from tonight, the puck will drop in Tampa on another chapter of Boston College vs. Minnesota hockey. The stage will be like no other, as after 60 minutes, one team will go home, and one will move on for a shot at the national championship.
“We’ve got a lot of banners hung up on Kelley Rink here,” said head coach Jerry York. “I think the feeling [on the team] is that, ‘Hey, when we look back on our legacy, we want to win important trophies. There’s none shinier than the one they’re going to present [in Tampa] next Saturday.”
The Eagles and the Gophers are two of the perennial powerhouses in college hockey, both winning multiple national championships since 2000. BC last won it all in 2010, with titles also coming in 2008 and 2001. Minnesota won back-to-back national titles in 2002 and 2003, but hasn’t been back in a championship game since.
“This rivalry, BC-Minnesota, goes back a long, long way, and it’s not just that the color of uniforms are the same,” York said. “It’s two teams that value hockey on their campuses and have great, great traditions. We’re honored to be looking across the ice at the Gophers.”
Next week will be the Eagles’ eighth Frozen Four appearance in the last 13 seasons (since 2000), a testament to York’s coaching and the talent he puts on the ice year in and year out.
“This is something, when we all set out for a year of coaching, we envision, ‘Hey, can we get to a Frozen Four?’ You can’t just go down to Best Buy and buy a ticket for this event. You’ve got to earn it, and we’ve all done that,” York said. “Our club is very excited about going down to the Frozen Four. Some of our players have experienced this, and they know what a terrific event it is. We’re certainly geared to try to win a national championship, but we understand winning is very, very difficult.
“We’re staring right at a traditional, powerful team that has an unbelievable history to it in the University of Minnesota. They’ll really present some obstacles to us as we try to win a national title.”
The other side of the bracket features two lesser-known college hockey programs, Union and Ferris State. Both had impressive seasons, and had to get through difficult regional matchups in order to land a spot in Tampa.
“It’s an interesting dynamic to have one team from each league play,” York said. “I know it’s happened in the past, but it’s always more of a national flavor.”
While the Eagles are in the midst of a 17-game winning streak, it hasn’t been just easy success for the team all season. BC suffered through a stretch from November to January in which it was 6-9-1, and York was forced to sit down and reevaluate what the expectations were for his team.
“I think talking to our captains and talking to our players, that we were an average team,” York said. “There’s nothing wrong with being average. There’s tons of teams that play college hockey and they’re not all going to win conference championships and go to the Frozen Four. But that was a factor late for us.
“We had to decide, ‘Do we want to be just average?’ which is the majority of teams. You know, win one, lose one … Or do we want to be special? If you want to be special, we emphasized that we just have to get better in all areas and the commitment to being a good team has to be 24/7.”
Ever since that conversation, the team has responded by showing that they had bigger aspirations than to settle for a mediocre year.
“I think our players didn’t want to be average,” York said. “They wanted to be considered a special team and win trophies. I think our commitment level raised, I think our play raised, I think our work ethic and everything about what you need to do to go from average to a special team, that’s what happened in late January. We’ve kind of built on that as we’ve gone through over the last month and a half.”
All of that hard work and dedication will be put on the line next week in a challenging matchup against the Gophers. Then again, the Eagles have showed how they respond to challenges. Their goal now is to bring home another banner. The rafters at Kelley Rink are waiting.