Team of the Week: Boston College
Eagles Take Two from Wisconsin in Rematch of '06 Title Game, but Must Refocus Quickly
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
It was a pretty good weekend, but it's a long way to go before March. Just ask Jerry York.
In fact, there's a game tonight.
"This is like an NHL-type schedule," York said. "Part of (winning) is the ability to avoid those ups and downs, and stay focused. You have to look at what just happened and put it somewhere else, and say, 'Who's next on the schedule?'"
That said, while Boston College's two wins over Wisconsin this past weekend were downplayed in the "revenge" department (despite BC's heartbreaking 2-1 defeat in last year's national title game), they were nevertheless huge as far as this year's NCAAs. Not only are out-of-conference wins against good teams a positive, and not only does it help Hockey East as a whole, but getting two wins against a good team on the road are the only way to give yourself RPI "Bonus Points" under this year's selection criteria.
"The only time it will be a rematch of that game is if we have terrific seasons and end up in St. Louis," York said. "We looked at it as two road games at Wisconsin with the opportunity of bonus points, because we don't go outside of the league much."
And it was a performance worthy of CHN's Team of the Week.
It was only just over a week ago that Boston College was embarrassed at home, 7-1 to Notre Dame. So it's not like York won't allow his team to appreciate its accomplishment against the Badgers.
But now it's about getting back to work. And turning around and playing again on Tuesday, against Providence, shows why that's necessary.
On the flip side, York understands, however, that, even for a team that's focused on winning, it's still hard for young players to maintain constant mental focus.
"The reason so many splits is that one team gets satisfied and the other gets madder," York said. "It's human nature. That's something we have to coach, not just the on-ice stuff."
To get back at that level, BC junior goalie Cory Schneider, who allowed just one goal in the two weekend games, prepared by lying in bed and watching a lot of football. Unfortunately, his beloved Patriots were not playing until Monday night, because that was a day to get right back to work.
"The whole team was ecstatic, but (Sunday) was a pretty long travel day. Now we're right back at it," Schneider said. "(Today) was a game Coach York identified as a trap game before the season."
So far, though, other than the blip against Notre Dame, York has steered this team in the right direction. It's an ability York has, despite a calm demeanor that is completely genuine, to get the most out of players without resorting to hard-nosed tactics.
"Last April, just six months ago, we were the youngest team in college hockey," York said, a bit tongue in cheek. "Now we've gone to a team called 'veteran.' I don't know how we matured so quickly."
One change York made after the Notre Dame loss was to move Nathan Gerbe to the top line with Brian Boyle and Dan Bertram. That has paid off nicely for everyone. And it wasn't just a mere shuffling of the lines for effect — there was a science behind it.
"We wanted to get Gerbe more ice time," York said. "We couldn't do it until the emergence of Ben Smith as a fourth-line center. Now (Smith) can jump up to the top nine, and Nathan can get up to the top line."
Gerbe had two goals in Friday's 3-0 win over Wisconsin, including on a 3-on-5 penalty kill.
Daggers like that gave Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves plenty of angst over the weekend, but when it was said and done, he still had to follow through with plans to have York and the BC coaching staff over for a home-cooked meal from his wife Beth. It was the least the Eaves could do after such good care York gave to the two Eaves sons, Ben and Pat, who both played for the Eagles.
"Beth cooked up some great chicken soup, and we shared some real good stories," York said. "We talked about (the weekend) a little, the Wisconsin injury celebration and how Wisconsin reacted to the celebration of a national championship.
"He was fine. He switched gears pretty quickly."
And now, BC must as well.