MEN'S HOCKEY: Alber Adds Comfort, Confidence On Defense
Published: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Updated: Sunday, March 17, 2013 21:03
Entering the third period of play on Saturday night, Vermont had more penalties (10) than it had shots on goal (eight). The Catamounts’ time on the penalty kill had an effect on the low number of shots they got off, but the bigger influence was a tightened-up Boston College defense.
The Eagles’ back line never let Vermont get settled in its offensive zone, limiting the Catamounts to just 17 shots on goal for the game, and only one goal.
Part of that improved defensive effort can be contributed to the return of senior defenseman Patch Alber, who played in his first series since tearing his meniscus and undergoing surgery in January.
“It’s incredible what he brings to our team,” senior forward Pat Mullane said. “A guy that’s been out three months and has barely played, the impact that he had this weekend was remarkable. It’s fun to watch him.”
Alber played big minutes on both Friday and Saturday night alongside his defensive linemate Michael Matheson.
“The game is totally different when he’s on the ice because he can slow everything down,” Mullane said. “He makes simple plays and makes the plays that he’s supposed to and even the ones that he’s not supposed to. When you have such a solid player back there logging a lot of minutes, it makes the forwards’ lives a lot easier. The team as a whole feels more comfortable and confident when he’s on the ice.”
Goaltender Parker Milner was only forced to make 16 saves on the night, as his defense didn’t allow the Catamounts to play their offensive game. The Eagles blocked seven shots on the night, and did not allow their opponent to get off many high-percentage shots.
Vermont had four power-play opportunities in the game, but only got off three shots on goal while on the man-advantage, a credit to the BC penalty kill unit.
Earlier last week, head coach Jerry York said he was hoping to see the Eagles tighten up on defense and have more of a “five-on-five tenaciousness on our defense.” Alber and the blueliners certainly made sure that happened, as they outmuscled and overpowered Vermont’s offense for the majority of the 60 minutes on Saturday night.
York misses game, surgery today
Head coach Jerry York was not behind the bench for game two of the series, as he suffered a detached retina in his right eye for the second time since early January. York had been at Conte Forum for team meetings on Saturday morning, but soon realized that there was some grayness in his eye and that something was wrong.
Associate head coaches Mike Cavanaugh and Greg Brown took over on Saturday night in York’s absence.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate not having coach York on the bench,” Mullane said. “He’s so enthusiastic and he brings so much to the locker room that it’s noticeable when he’s not there. But it’s one of those things where whoever’s name is called, they have to perform, whether it’s players or coaches. I think coach Cavanaugh and coach Brown stepped up and handled our bench and the locker room just the way coach York would have wanted it.”
When the team got back into the locker room after the final buzzer sounded, they were greeted with a congratulatory text message from York, telling them how excited he was they’d be moving on to the semifinals next week.
York is set to undergo surgery today at Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston. After the procedure, it will be determined how much more time York could miss. When he underwent the surgery in January, York was forced to miss four games during his recovery.
It is possible that York could miss one final shot to coach against Boston University head coach Jack Parker in Friday night’s semifinal matchup. Parker announced his retirement last weekend, signaling the end of his historic career that will be effective once the Terriers’ season ends.