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Boston College Stifles Wisconsin to Win NCAA Hockey Championship

Apr 10, 2010 – 10:00 PM
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Bruce Ciskie

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On March 28, Boston College beat Yale in a rather unorthodox Northeast Regional final.

It was unorthodox because the Eagles allowed seven goals, but managed a 9-7 triumph to advance to the Frozen Four. After two weeks of hearing about their defense not being good enough to win a national championship, Boston College was ready to prove the "experts" wrong.

They did. Against two elite Division I programs, the Eagles played 120 minutes of hockey and only allowed one goal. Saturday night at Ford Field in Detroit, the Eagles shut down one of the nation's top offensive teams in Wisconsin. The 5-0 final gave BC their fourth national title, and their third since 2001.

With all due credit given to the Eagles, Wisconsin never looked right. Their passes weren't connecting, star players looked to be trying to do too much by themselves, and their goaltending, which was never a strong point, really wasn't very good. Scott Gudmandson had a very good season, and he clearly established himself as the Badgers' No. 1 option.

He just didn't have a great night, but in his defense, neither did his teammates.

Ben Smith scored on a power play late in the first period to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Gudmandson was screened on the play, and he didn't have much of a chance. In reality, he made a couple saves that temporarily kept the Badgers in the game, as the Eagles outshot Wisconsin, 12-5, in the first.

Things didn't get much better for Wisconsin in the second. Hobey Baker winner Blake Geoffrion was practically invisible all night, and only senior Michael Davies and junior Derek Stepan stood out among Wisconsin's forwards. Senior Aaron Bendickson had a nice game, but he was never much of an offensive star for the Badgers, and when you get to the national championship, you need your best players to be your best players.

With Geoffrion and defensemen Brendan Smith and Ryan McDonagh all struggling, the Badgers were bound to have problems.

Like they did in the semifinals Thursday, Boston College really cranked it up in the third period. Cam Atkinson streaked down the ice and put a backhander through Gudmandson's five-hole for a 2-0 lead. Chris Kreider had a nice deflection to make it 3-0. Atkinson scored on a power play for a 4-0 lead, and the Eagles then added an empty-netter in the last five minutes for a 5-0 advantage.

Junior goaltender John Muse pitched the shutout with 20 saves. He is now 8-0 in his career in the NCAA Tournament, having backstopped the Eagles to a national championship in 2008.

Even though the event was well attended -- Saturday's crowd of over 37,000 boosted the tournament attendance to more than 71,000, setting a Frozen Four record -- you can look for South Beach to freeze over before the Frozen Four is ever again held in a football stadium.

Players on the participating teams refused to criticize the ice surface, but anyone with eyes could tell it was a problem, especially in Saturday's game. The contest was stopped a couple times because of problems during play, and the ice was responsible for breaking up at least three quality scoring chances during the game. The most telling was a Davies breakaway in the second period, where the puck hit a chunk of bad ice and wobbled off Davies' stick as he skated down the slot.

A Frozen Four that featured scores of 8-1, 7-1, and 5-0 isn't good for business, but this was an aberration for the NCAA. It simply won't happen every year, and may never happen again. Boston College was the best team in this tournament, far better than the balanced Badgers or a Miami team that was the best team in the country for the whole season.

The Eagles pounded two very good teams, and this was a darn impressive national championship for a storied program in college hockey.
Filed under: Sports