Peter Harrold and BC Came Within Inches of Extending the National Championship Game
by Matt Conyers/CHN Correspondent
MILWAUKEE The image was one that only the world of college athletics could create.
Moments after Boston College had lost the National Championship to Wisconsin 2-1, Peter Harrold lay motionless on a trainer's table. While the trainer went to work on Harrold's well-worn ankle, the Eagles senior defenseman stared off into the distance.
He could've been looking at anything. A stick, a pile of pucks, an empty luggage case; it didn't matter. He wasn't observing it for any real reason or purpose. It was just a way to take his mind off the present. As far as Harrold was concerned, anything would do. He just didn't want to see the post that ended not only his college career but also the Eagles' dreams of going to overtime and garnering the school's third National Championship.
He would, however be forced to talk about it.
"I got a feed from (Stephen) Gionta from the corner and I looked up and I had a little lane to the net," said Harrold about his shot that smacked off the post with precisely 1.5 seconds remaining. "At that point you kind of throw it at the net and hope for a little luck. Boyle is a pretty big guy in front, you hope for a good screen. A quarter inch the other way it ties the game."
According to Eagles netminder Cory Schneider, the squad wouldn't have wanted anyone else taking that last shot.
"Peter has been so good all year," said Schneider. "It's natural that his shot would find a way through. It just missed. If it had gone in, it would've been unbelievable."
Harrold, the emotional leader of the now national runner-up, may have just seen his career end in the most emotional of ways. How could it not be? After all, how many athletes honestly finish their collegiate career by ratcheting a game-tying goal off the post in the final moments of a National Championship?
To make it more noteworthy, though, Harrold had just taken a questionable boarding penalty with 3:28 remaining, putting a damper on the Eagles' comeback hopes.
"It's tough to take a penalty then," said Harrold. "Whether or not it was the right call is not my decision to make; he saw it, he called it and that was the way it was. It's tough to end the season on a loss but we made it a lot further than a lot of people thought we would."
Then he put all he had — creaky ankle and all — into those last 92 seconds.
"We were coming on strong the last five minutes," said Harrold. "A quarter inch here ... it's a game of inches. It's tough when it doesn't go your way but Wisconsin was a tremendous club. My hat is off to them. They deserve the win. That's the way it goes sometimes."
And to add another marker on this most noteworthy evening for one of college hockey's warriors, Harrold was playing injured. On Thursday in the Frozen Four semifinals, Harrold was trying to make a poke check in the first period when he got tangled with a North Dakota player and fell to the ice. In the process of falling Harrold twisted his ankle.
"The way he carried us through this tournament and battled through injury says volumes about him as a player and his character," said Schneider. "If it hadn't been the title game he wouldn't have been playing."
But it was only fitting for the way he spent this season, almost as the mother hen nursing along four freshmen defensemen. In particular, his defense partner most of the season, Tim Filangieri.
"I can't say enough about Peter Harrold," Filangieri said. "He really showed me the ropes, showed a lot of guys what to do, and he was just a great all-around leader. I really can't thank him enough.
"He did talk to me about things, but just watching him every practice, every game, just seeing how he did things in certain situations helped me."
Said Schneider, "He just provided that sense of calmness. With four freshmen defenders out there, if we had to kill on a 5-on-3 or need a defensive spot, Peter was always there always making the right play; the smart play. It just seemed like he never made mistakes."
The loss was Harrold's second in the Frozen Four. In 2004, the Eagles lost to Maine 2-1 in the National Semifinal.
"It's an incredible feat," said Harrold. "I really appreciate it because my brother only got to the NCAA tournament once with Miami and lost in the first round. He has been telling me just savor it. I remember from 2004, guys like Ben Eaves and Tony Voce saying savor it and they won a championship. You have to take each moment as it comes."
For Harrold, the missed shot marked the end of a college career he never wanted to see end.
"It's kind of tough; you spend four years at this school, it becomes a part of you," said Harrold. "I am going to miss all the guys here. I will be friends with them forever but you miss the brotherhood more than anything. I've got nothing but good things to say about all the people I have met, especially coach (Jerry) York, he has been incredible."
Along with seniors Stephen Gionta and Chris Collins, Harrold's departure leaves a tremendous void for Boston College.
"They're some of the best kids I know," said Schneider. "They would do anything for you. They were great teammates for us all season. They've really been there when we needed them. It's going to be hard to let them go. They are definitely one of the best senior classes. Their legacy is going to be tough to beat."
As for his own future, Harrold is unsure on the next move.
"To be honest with you I don't really know," said Harrold. "My family advisor and I decided we weren't going to talk about it until after the season. It's just a distraction I didn't need. We will see. I really don't know. I will pursue whatever as far as I can. And hopefully things will go well for me.
"I am looking forward to getting the next part of my life started I guess."