ANOTHER SHUTOUT FOR BC
Boston College 4, Minnesota Duluth 0 | Box Score
WORCESTER, Mass. – It was as apparent as ever on Sunday night that there’s no such thing as an embarrassment of riches when it comes to depth in college hockey.
With Boston College boasting three lines and Minnesota Duluth two sets of forwards that have outscored many top lines in the country, it was the Eagles who came out on top, with goals while each of their top three lines were on the ice to defeat the defending national champion Bulldogs 4-0 at the DCU Center and move on to the Frozen Four in Tampa.
“That’s why we’re moving on here,” York said. “I’m not sure if I’m an opposing coach which line I’d try to check with. Is it Billy Arnold’s line, is it Pat Mullane’s line, Kevin Hayes? We’re pretty deep up front, so that’s a challenge that coaches have with one checking line. Who do we put them against?”
It was the Eagles’ third line – on the line chart, at least – that opened the scoring at the 4:01 mark of the second period. Forward Pat Mullane tipped in a rebound from a Paul Carey shot to give the Eagles a one-goal lead that quickly grew when the first line joined the fun with a tally from Bill Arnold just 1:26 later.
The Eagles added third period goals by defenseman Patrick Wey – while Boston College’s second forward line was on the ice, of course – and third-liner Johnny Gaudreau to give Boston College its tenth trip to the Frozen Four since Jerry York became coach in 1994.
In its opening round victory against Maine, Minnesota Duluth showed the value in its checking line forwards, as Keegan Flaherty, Jake Hendrickson and David Grun did an exemplary job shutting down the Black Bears’ top line – one that is among the most prolific scoring lines in the country – but asking them to shut down multiple equally-productive lines was a tall task.
“If you look up and down their roster, you can see all of their lines producing points for them,” Minnesota Duluth defenseman Brady Lamb said. “They’re very deep that way. It helped to have the home ice last night to make matching up a little easier, in terms of tonight, they’re pretty deep and we tried to roll six (defensemen) all night, but unfortunately they got some key goals and their depth definitely helped them tonight.”
The success of the Eagles’ depth gave Boston College its eighth straight NCAA Tournament win at the DCU Center, and improves their all-time tournament record at the venue to 10-1.
If Boston College can emulate their success of rolling lines and racking up goals from each group, the prospects of York’s fourth national championship at Boston College are a real possibility, and, for what it’s worth, each of those three previous titles started the same way that this tournament has – with a regional victory in Worcester.
SEEN AND HEARD AT DCU CENTER
Milner the MVP: Depth up front was a key for Boston College, but the building block for their success was the shutout play of goaltender and the regional’s most outstanding player, Parker Milner.
Milner saved all 33 shots thrown his way by the Bulldogs and all 20 from Air Force on Saturday night to help give the talented top lines confidence to build from.
“There’s an old axiom, if you’re a good club and you’re going to be a successful coach you have a gag rule, they call it,” York said. “Get a good goaltender. I think that ability to save pucks helps with confidence for all of our players. We just become a better defensive team, and we become a better offensive team because we’re not going to center ice to face off because they scored a goal.”
Milner’s two victories made him the first netminder to post back-to-back shutouts in an NCAA Regional since Boston College’s Cory Schneider did so against Miami and Boston University in 2006 – at the DCU Center, of course.
A Bright Future For The Bulldogs: Having won the national championship last year, and having played most of this year at or near the top of the national rankings, it’s fair to say that expectations for future Minnesota Duluth teams are higher than ever.
Coach Scott Sandelin gave his departing seniors credit for helping to raise the bar for the future of Bullldog hockey.
“I want to make sure that I acknowledge our seniors,” Sandelin said. “They’ve been a tremendous group. They have accomplished a lot, and they’ve helped our program get to some spots that we haven’t been to. Certainly they leave here with a national championship and they set a standard for our program that we hope to carry forward.”
Sandelin also pointed out that the longevity of this senior class and their decisions to stay in school played a big factor in advancing the program at Minnesota Duluth.
“It’s getting tougher and tougher in today’s game with the early departures,” Sandelin said. “I think that team we played tonight is going to lose a few guys at the end of this year. It’s tough to see those guys go. We were fortunate to keep a guy like Jack Connolly for four years.”
A Two-Way Star: With 30 points on the year after scoring a goal tonight, it’s no secret that Arnold is an excellent offensive player with great prospects for a future in pro hockey. The best part of his game this weekend was the aspect that gives him such a bright future: his defensive play, particularly on the penalty kill.
“He’s just a good, solid player,” York said. “He’s on our power play, he’s on our (penalty kill), when we have 5-on-3 against, he’s a key player. He’s a big body, he blocks shots and he’s a smart player. You look at your bench and think about who’s going to play in those situations and if he’s not in the box, he’s going to be there.”
On the night, Arnold earned a plus-1 rating and took four shots on goal.
Milner was solid all weekend, and has had a second half of the season for the ages, averaging just 1.17 goals against and a .957 save percentage in Boston College’s 16 wins prior to extending the streak to 17 on Sunday. The junior overcame early-season doubts that he could successfully replace John Muse, who won two national championships in four years, and some mid-season struggles to make himself the cornerstone of this Frozen Four team.
Boston College was nearly flawless for 60 minutes, but if York will chastise them for anything, it should be the string of third period penalties that might have put their lead in jeopardy. Lucky for York, his team’s penalty kill is amongst the best in the country and Milner was superb in those few harrowing minutes.
NCAA NORTHEAST REGIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
G – Parker Milner, Boston College
D – Tommy Cross, Boston College
D – Patrick Wey, Boston College
F – Jack Connolly, Minnesota-Duluth
F – Jake Hendrickson, Minnesota-Duluth
F – Chris Kreider, Boston College
The Eagles move on to Tampa, where they’ll face off against a Minnesota team that has many of the same characteristics: depth, solid defensemen, experienced coaches and strong goaltending. York said that his team will take a few days to relish the regional title before moving on to study Minnesota.