Saturday, April 10, 2010

Eagles Soar to NCAA National Title

The Boston College Eagles have captured their 4th National Championship and second in three years after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers 5-0 on Saturday in Detroit. The Eagles scored 4 times in the third period and carried the play for most of the game. The win caps off a season which saw Boston College also win the annual BeanPot Championship and the Hockey East Conference title.

For my thoughts on the final game, the 2010 Frozen Four in general and more... click Read More.

Sophomore Cameron Atkinson, a 2008 6th round pick by Columbus, scored a pair of third period goals to cement the victory. Netminder John Muse, an un-drafted junior, posted the shutout and ran his NCAA tournament record to a perfect 8-0. An impressive stat for B.C.'s seniors; their playoff winning percentage over their four year NCAA career is .928.

Saturday's game was much closer than the score would suggest. BC outshot Wisconsin 26-20 but I'd venture to guess that 'Bucky' had just as many overall scoring chances as the Eagles did, they just couldn't capitalize on them.

The first period was largely controlled by the Eagles. The second was much more even as the Badgers fought to get back into the contest. Senior Michael Davies had a breakaway opportunity with about 5 minutes to remain in the middle frame but fanned on the shot when the puck hit something and hopped over his blade. A goal there would have evened the score and given the Badgers all the momentum.

The third period feature two quick goals by Boston College, the latter by freshman Chris Kreider (NYR) (Photo: Dennis Pause). Wisconsin top scorer Derek Stepan, another Rangers prospect, was injured on the back check when he collided heavily into the end boards.

When speedy Atkinson potted his second of the period at the 7:20 mark, it was all but over despite the desperate play of the Badgers from there on out. BC would add an empty netter and cruise to their fourth ever national title.

Jimmy Connelly, a frequent guest on The Pipeline Show, has this game report for

After Thoughts

- Wisconsin senior Blake Geoffrion (NSH) was named the 2010 Hobey Baker Award winner. I have mixed feelings on his selection as the top NCAA player this year. On one hand, he's clearly deserving because of the way he has performed on the ice as captain of the Badgers and by all accounts his off ice leadership and community relations were exemplary as well. However, when I made my top ten Hobey finalist prediction I felt pretty good, especially considering I went 8 for 10. Unfortunately for me and my pride, Geoffrion wasn't one of the guys I had. (Photo: Canadian Press)

- I wasn't in attendance so you might get a different story from someone who was but.. having he NCAA marquee event played in a football stadium was a bad idea. Yes it set a new record for attendance at an indoor college game but in my opinion, a national title in hockey should not be in an environment that isn't meant for hockey. It's a gimmick that works in the winter but there were two stadium games already this year in the NCAA... was a third really necessary?

- Speaking of stadium games, is it a coincidence that the two teams playing in this year's title games were among the four that played in outdoor games this year? Probably, although maybe it helped in the semi-finals on some level. Wisconsin played in the Camp Randall Classic while Boston College battled Boston University at Fenway Park in January.

- Goalie John Muse turns 22 on August 1st this year. He's un-drafted. There must be a lineup of NHL teams licking their chops at a chance to sign him. Unbeaten in the NCAA tournament for two years now? He's had save percentages of .921, .904 and now .910 but Muse's performance in big games is remarkable. (Photo: Boston College)

- This was a game of size vs speed and the guys with the wheels prevailed.

- It's funny how the NCAA conferences have taken turns in dominating the title over the last few years. From 2002-2006, a WCHA program was crowned. 2007 went to Michigan State out of the CCHA. Now Hockey east has held the title for three consecutive years. The CCHA won 5 titles in the 1990's. The last time a national champ came from outside of one of those three conferences was way back in 1989 when Harvard won.

- Boston College coach Jerry York wins his 4th National Title, third with the Eagles. He's one of the most revered coaches according to the players we've talked to. Interesting tidbit - Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves was recruited by York when he was a player and York was the coach at Bowling Green in the 1970's. Years later, Eaves two kids (Ben and Patrick) both grow up to play NCAA hockey for... Jerry York at Boston College. (credit goes to ESPN for that one).

- The combined score for the three games at the Frozen Four this year saw the winners beat the losers 20-2.

- Un-drafted seniors from the Frozen Four include Canadian born Matt Price and forward Matt Lombardi from Boston College. Wisconsin's crop includes Canadian Ben Steet, Andy Bohmbach, Aaron Bendickson, Ben Grotting and 6'5 forward John Mitchell. ESPN colour analyst suggested during the semi-finals that one of the reason Edmonton Oilers President Kevin Lowe was in attendance was to watch Mitchell, I've been told that's not necessarily accurate but he is a big physical winger so it's at the very least a fit in that regard.

- Miami's UFA seniors include top scorer Jarod Palmer who had 45 points this year, defenceman Brandon Smith and 2006 Viking Cup participant Gary Steffes who only played 17 games this year.

- RIT's top representatives were apparently their fan base which stayed for the final game and were as vocal as the followers of either team that were on the ice.

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