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Heating Up For Tampa

BC Combats Physical Play, Moves On To The Frozen Four

Sports Editor

Published: Sunday, March 25, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

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Graham Beck / Heights Editor

WORCESTER — The Eagles are going to Tampa.

For the second time in three years, Boston College has clinched its ticket to the Frozen Four. Last night at the DCU Center, the Eagles shut down a physical Minnesota-Duluth team, winning 4-0 over the defending national champions.

“I’m so excited we’re going to the Frozen Four,” said head coach Jerry York. “It just never gets old. We’re extremely excited and look forward to be going down to Tampa.”

The turning point in the game was the second period, when UMD came out of the locker room with a much more physical style of play. Instead of letting the Bulldogs knock them down, the Eagles matched that intensity with aggressive speed up and down the ice, leading to their two goals in the period.

“In the second period, there was a surge there when [UMD] really finished three or four checks in a row and caught us back on our heels. But there was no concern about the next hit. We got the next goals,” York said. “They won some physical battles early, but we responded with the two goals, and that got us going back.

“Sometimes it’s hard to respond to good, physical play. But our club is very, very strong, mentally and physically.”    

After a scoreless first period, the Eagles finally broke through at 4:01 into the second frame. Johnny Gaudreau took the puck behind the net looking to make a move, but lost control of it. Luckily for BC, the puck found the stick of Paul Carey, who took the initial shot on UMD goaltender Kenny Reiter. He made the save, but couldn’t control the rebound. Pat Mullane was in the perfect position for the loose puck, and stuffed it home for the 1-0 lead.

Just over a minute later, the Eagles added to their lead. Steven Whitney stole the puck from a UMD defender behind the net and somehow found himself alone. He used great vision to find a charging Bill Arnold, who slapped a one-timer past Reiter’s outstretched right leg to make it 2-0.

“People talk a lot about the small, skilled forwards that come through BC,” said senior captain Tommy Cross. “It’s true they are small and they are skilled, but they’re tenacious and they’re really strong. They’re not easy to bump off the puck. They don’t have the size, but they have the heart. They work hard, and that was really evident tonight.”

For the remainder of the second period, the Bulldogs responded with more physical play, but BC would not back down, even with the lead.

Far and away, the star of the third period was Parker Milner. While the Eagles tallied two more goals in the frame, their goaltender turned away shot after shot from the Bulldogs. Milner recorded his second shutout in as many nights to buy his team a ticket to Tampa.

“[The second straight shutout] feels good obviously, but we’re going to the Frozen [Four], and that’s what feels good,” Milner said.

Milner continued his astounding play during BC’s current 17-game winning streak, collecting 33 saves and earning the Northeast Regional’s Most Outstanding Player award.

The penalty kill also came up big time throughout the game, with the Eagles limiting UMD’s chances of getting back in the game on the man advantage. The Bulldogs finished 0-for-6 on the man-advantage, including 41 seconds of 5-on-3 play early in the third period. The reasons for that were Milner and the defense, who both cut down shooting angles and blocked pucks in the slot.

In the second minute of the final period, Patrick Wey scored a fluke goal to put a dagger in UMD’s hope of a comeback. When it looked like BC was trying to switch up its lines, Wey had the puck at the blue line and dumped it into the zone on net. As the puck flew through the air, Reiter moved to his left to stop it. But somehow, the puck found its way over Reiter’s shoulder and into the back of the net.

The final goal came off the stick of Gaudreau. On the power play, the freshman got the puck from Wey at the blue line with a UMD defender on either side of him. Using his speed, he carved through the zone and got away from the defensemen, then used a deke to slide the puck past Reiter.

BC came out of the gates with great energy, and really held the momentum and control of the game after the opening drop of the puck.

“You could feel the excitement on our bench, just from the first shift,” Arnold said. “To get that win, it’s a testament to our leadership. It starts with Tommy [Cross], and it goes right on down through every class.”

BC erased the memory of a difficult exit in last year’s NCAA tournament, playing a full 60 minutes of dominant hockey over the best offensive team in the country.

“I think this started last year, after we lost to Colorado College,” Arnold said, who scored his first postseason goal in the win. “A few weeks later, we started our spring workouts, and carried on through the summer. We came into this season a new team. We knew we had to work hard, and we battled throughout the whole season.”

The Eagles now have a date with Minnesota in the Frozen Four on April 5. But first, York said his team will take some time to enjoy what they’ve accomplished thus far.

“I told the kids, ‘Hey, really enjoy this game,’” York said, “‘and as the week goes on, we’ll talk more about the Frozen Four.’”

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