Defense Wins Hockey East Championship For BU
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
BOSTON There are two very famous sayings in the hockey world.
"You build a team from the net out."
"Defense wins championships."
The two go hand in hand, and Boston University proved them to be true in its 2-1 overtime victory over Boston College to capture the 2006 Hockey East Championship.
With the win, the Terriers continued their dominance over the Eagles at the TD Banknorth Garden. The Terriers have now won 10 of the 12 games that the two Boston schools have played in the city's major sports arena.
[i1]Going into the game, BU had BC's number all season long. The Terriers had taken the regular season series, two games to one, as well as the Beanpot final, and the Eagles were out to look for some redemption.
BU had a chance to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998, and BC was looking to get revenge for a Beanpot final loss earlier in the season, as well as to play spoiler to the Terriers' No. 1 seed hopes.
BU controlled much of the play for the first 60:00, outshooting BC 35-20, and preventing the top line of Chris Collins, Brian Boyle and Brock Bradford from getting anything going. It was the second straight night that the Terrier defense came up with a big stop. 24 hours earlier, they shut down the intimidating trio of Jacob Micflikier, Daniel Winnik and Brett Hemingway of New Hampshire.
Micflikier had two goals in the semi-final game, but both came on the power play, as BU allowed only one even strength goal on the weekend.
BU senior forward David Van der Gulik might have been named as tournament MVP after scoring two hat tricks in four games, but the real MVP for the Terriers may have been their team defense, which limited opponents to just one even strength goal in the entire tournament.
And that was scored early in the first period tonight by Eagle defenseman Mike Brennan.
"Our team defense is unbelievable. I almost want to say it's too good, because you get these games where I am only seeing three shots in a fifteen minute span, and I get no rhythm but it's great." said BU goaltender John Curry.
"The way our defense is playing and the way our forwards are getting back and covering the points, it's just unbelievable how we are not letting people in our zone and how we are not letting up shots," Curry said.
"We've been getting great goaltending all year, we have been playing solid defensively, and we have been getting better at that as the season has progressed," said coach Jack Parker.
"It's not just the defensemen either, it's the centers playing down low man to man, and the back checkers getting back and working hard," Parker said.
"For the most part, the centers and the defense have really worked awfully hard to be very solid and very thorough back there."
That said, it looked like the Eagles were going to capture the title about 7:00 into the overtime frame.
BC freshman Benn Ferriero apparently knocked home a loose puck, but referee Tim Benedetto blew his whistle before the puck crossed the goal line.
That was followed by the largest offensive threat of the night for BC. A flurry of shots on Curry forced Parker to call a time out to try and calm his troops down.
"I just told them that they were coming at us with a certain forecheck, and we have to make an adjustment — here's the adjustment, and then we had to get after them a little bit harder," Parker said.
The strategy worked. BU's defense returned to form, tying up sticks in front and not allowing Stephen Gionta to bury the best scoring opportunity that BC had.
A BC shot from the left point deflected off the leg of BU defenseman's Jekabs Redlihs and hit the side of Curry's right pad. The puck sat in front just long enough for Gionta to make a bid at knocking it home, but Curry, without a stick in his hand, was able to cover the puck with his blocker and keep his team alive.
Moments later, Brandon Yip, with the help of fellow freshmen Jason Lawrence and Chris Higgins, slipped the puck through BC goaltender Cory Schneider's legs 14:22 into overtime — giving BU its first Hockey East title in nine years.
"They have a good defensive corps," said BC coach Jerry York.
"They have good size and they play very solid positionally, and then Curry makes them even better."