Hockey East Finals
Have the Rite Stuff
Sneep, N. Gerbe
John Muse, 60:00, 29 saves, 0 GA
Joe Fallon, 58:45, 24 saves, 3 GA, 1 ENG
BC 5/10; UVM 5/10
Plays: BC 1-4; UVM 0-4
John Muse, Boston College
D: Mike Brennan, Boston College
D: Carl Sneep, Boston College
F: Bobby Butler, New Hampshire
F: Benn Ferriero, Boston College
F: Nathan Gerbe, Boston College (MVP)
BOSTON — This is starting to become
an annual rite of passage for Boston College.
The Eagles cruised past Vermont, 4-0, Saturday
to capture their league-leading eighth Hockey East championship.
It was BC’s second straight tourney title, third in
the last four years and fourth in the last eight.
What’s remarkable this time around was
how the Eagles did it. They were 1-5-1 after beating Harvard
to clinch the Beanpot crown, a lull that included a five-game
winless stretch. And after falling from second in the standings
to fourth, they earned a first-round date with Providence,
which had gone 2-0-1 against Boston College in the regular
Simply put, the Eagles weren’t getting
anything handed to them.
“Yeah, it’s always tough,”
said BC junior forward Nathan Gerbe, who was named tournament
MVP. “But we have a lot of leadership on this team.
Our seniors have done a great job of keeping us positive
throughout the year. Even through the stretch, we tried
to take the positives. It’s helped us a lot. We’re
real lucky to get this, but it’s hard earned.”
After steamrolling through the Friars, though,
Boston College drew top-seeded New Hampshire in the semifinal.
A three-goal comeback and triple-overtime victory later,
and Vermont was the only team left in BC’s path for
yet another league championship. As the final score indicated,
the Eagles had little trouble.
A large part of their enlightenment heading
into the NCAA tournament has to do with Gerbe, who also
struggled during a regular-season stretch run that closer
resembled a limp. The league’s leading scorer has
re-emerged as the dominant force he had been through most
of the season with five goals and six assists during the
Eagles’ five-game winning streak, including four goals
and five assists in the postseason.
“Offensively, I was doing well, and
then I got into a little drought,” said Gerbe, who
was held to a goal and an assist during BC’s five-game
winless skid. “Sometimes, you overplay things, and
I think I was looking for more breaks than I was creating.
I’ve got to be an honest player. I’m the kind
of kid that has to create my own breaks, and I cheated the
game a bit when our team wasn’t doing it down the
stretch there. Now, I’m trying to go back to keeping
it simple first and then worry about the offense.”
Gerbe admitted he needed to take a look in
the mirror and be more accountable to his teammates, and
that meant trusting the talent around him.
“Sometimes, I get carried away. I try
to do things by myself, but I play with two great wingers
— Brian Gibbons and Ben Smith — and sometimes
I’ve got to depend on them,” Gerbe said. “I
thought I depended on them a lot, and they did a great job
|Eyes on the prize: Boston College
and Vermont players size up a loose puck in front of
Catamount goalie Joe Fallon during Saturday's Hockey
East championship game in Boston.
Now, they’re heading to yet another
national tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country.
They’ve got a battle-tested cast that has played in
the last two national championships. And coach Jerry York
has said he likes this team’s mental makeup as much
as any he’s ever coached. After rebounding from two
separate five-game winless stretches this season and battling
back to beat UNH Friday, that’s an easy notion to
“I think we’ve had our history
of a lot of good runs at the end of our season, and I thought
our club was pretty solid,” said York, who won the
799th game of his career. “When I looked at it, I
said this is a pretty good club, and we just went through
some tough losses. But I always thought we were capable
of making a good run here. We never quite got to that point
where we thought we weren’t going to make it to the
national tournament or the Hockey East championship. We
always thought we had a good club and just kept sawing wood.
I like that expression. Just keep working.”
AND THEN THERE WERE TWO
Boston University coach Jack Parker said Friday
he would be rooting for Vermont to win the Hockey East championship,
not to spite rival Boston College but to help the conference
get three teams into the NCAA tournament.
Vermont’s defeat, however, meant Hockey
East would get just two teams into the national tourney,
the fewest for the league since 1997. It’s only the
second time the conference qualified just two teams since
1988, and it’s a surprising turn after Hockey East
earned a league-record five bids last season.
“You always want to see a better representation,
and last year we were spoiled a little bit with the five,”
HEA commissioner Joe Bertagna said. “But as I’ve
been saying to people, we really are paying the price for
letting some games get away from us in the first half of
the season that were, on paper, winnable games — losses
to Robert Morris, ties to Alaska, a couple losses to Dartmouth,
who had a tough season."
Hockey East had at least four teams qualify
for the NCAA tournament in three straight seasons and four
of the last five. It will be just the sixth time ever only
two teams from the conference qualified, with three of those
being the first three seasons of the league’s existence
“I think it is [difficult] just because
we have so many great teams in the league,” Vermont
coach Kevin Sneddon said. “But when it comes down
to it, two things that probably hurt was we kept beating
each other, and teams like ourselves and Boston University
just didn’t have a good enough first half, in particular
in non-conference, where we could earn those important points
in the power rankings to be playing next week. You can’t
fault the system at all. You know what it’s going
to be going into the season.”
With that said, though, Boston College and
New Hampshire feel like they have the opportunity to make
the conference proud. UNH will be a No. 1 seed, and BC looks
locked into a second seed.
“No question [it’s tough],”
said BC coach Jerry York, who was politicking after the
game to get his Eagles in a bracket separate from that of
UNH. “And now it’s up to both [teams] to try
to make it to that Frozen Four, and make a statement for
eastern hockey and particularly Hockey East.”
“I think we have a really deep conference,”
said Nathan Gerbe, whose Eagles have qualified for the national
tournament for the sixth straight time and the ninth time
in the last 10 years. “I still think Vermont deserves
to be in the tournament. They’re a great team. They
compete really hard. Our league is very good, but New Hampshire
and ourselves are also good teams, and hopefully we represent
Hockey East well.”
The league has had at least two teams qualify
for the NCAA tournament in all 24 years of its existence.
And of the four national championships that Hockey East
teams have claimed, one of them came when just two teams
were in the tournament — Maine in 1993.
“We know our time will come again, and
I actually like our chances with the two teams we do have,”
Bertagna said. “We don’t have numbers, but we
have two teams I think are very strong. I think New Hampshire
might be a little bit deeper on the roster, but I think
BC has some experience with being in some big games over
the last many years but particularly the last two years
going into the national championship game.”
SEEN AN HEARD AT TD BANKNORTH GARDEN
• There seemed to
be a war between soda brand names on the media floor this
weekend. Friday night, the drinks of choice on the Garden’s
ninth floor were Coke and Diet Coke. Saturday, however,
featured Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. Maybe Mean Joe Greene and
Justin Timberlake will even play a game of pond hockey between
• To put it kindly, the Vermont section
had less good chants than bad ones, including “Harvard
rejects” in the second period.
INCH's Three Stars of the Night
Ben Smith, Boston College
Smith’s goal served as the game-winner
and turned the tide in BC’s favor after Vermont
controlled most of the first period.
Nathan Gerbe, Boston College
Memo to the college hockey world: Gerbe is
back. He had a goal and an assist and was all over
John Muse, Boston College
Muse earned INCH’s tournament MVP
vote (not that Gerbe was a bad selection), and he
was outstanding in the championship. He stopped a
number of odd-man rushes in the first period to keep
the game tied and never allowed UVM to creep back
once BC took control.
• Nathan Gerbe scored one of the most
dazzling goals of the season during a penalty shot in Boston
College’s Game 2 win over Providence last weekend.
He pulled off a Ryan Shannon-inspired spin-o-rama move to
beat PC goalie Ryan Simpson. I asked Gerbe if Shannon has
called him to claim the first ever assist in penalty-shot
“No, he hasn’t,” Gerbe laughed.
“I got to watch him on YouTube do it all the time,
and I tried it in practice a few times. I just got the chance
in a game to try it.”
Gerbe then said he had never successfully pulled it off
in practice, either.
• Boston College goalie John Muse stopped
29 shots to record the second shutout in Hockey East championship
history. UNH goalie Mike Ayers turned the trick against
Boston University in 2003.
• Gerbe on Muse,
who quelled a few odd-man rushes in the first period while
the game was scoreless:
to play every minute [of the season],” Gerbe said.
“You’ve got to give the kid a lot of credit.
It’s tough coming in after Cory Schneider. It’s
another very good goalie, but he’s done well for us.
He’s given us the confidence to win every game. I
don’t think there’s been a game where you look
at him and say he might have lost the game, but he hasn’t.
He’s played well all game and kept us in every single
game. You’ve got to give a young freshman a lot of
props for that.”
• BC’s senior class has won three
Hockey East championships. The one season they didn’t
win it was in 2006, when they fell to BU in overtime.
'• BC was the third No. 4 seed to win
the Hockey East tournament and first to do it since Maine
in 2000. Interestingly enough, all three of the No. 4 seeds
beat the No. 3 seed in the championship.
• Saturday's announced attendance was
PLUSSES AND MINUSES
teamwork on BC’s empty-netter. Benn Ferriero had a
chance to pad his stats, but he instead decided to feed
Nathan Gerbe, who potted the sure thing.
few pet peeves before the game even started: People who
don’t cover their mouths when they cough and they’re
noticeably very sick; people who walk around the media floor
(or press box, media table, etc.) and steal other people’s
line charts or any sheets of paper that are necessary to
cover a game; and people who get on an elevator on the first
floor and ask if it’s going up. No, it’s not.
Actually, this building has a super-secret sublevel that
we’re all heading to, and it’s filled with ice
girls, free stuff from Nike Bauer and giant plasma screen
TVs that are showing “Slapshot” on repeat. This
country is in a serious recession because of people who
ask questions like that.
crowd left a lot to be desired. This is the second straight
year the crowd had some serious room for improvement, and
much of the buzz in the building had to do with the lack
of buzz in the building.
Boston College earned the automatic qualifier
for the NCAA tournament and will likely be a No. 2 seed,
though its location remains to be seen. New Hampshire, which
fell to the Eagles last night, appears to have a lock on
a top seed and is hoping to stay close to home, perhaps
the Worcester Regional. Vermont’s historic season
has come to a close.