Eagles Continue to Soar
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
MANCHESTER, N.H. Eleven and counting.
That's the win streak for the Boston College Eagles after downing St. Lawrence, 4-1, in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday. The surging maroon and gold will take on Miami for the right to go to St. Louis and the Frozen Four on Sunday.
Much of the credit goes to junior goaltender Cory Schneider, who has a 1.72 goals-against average during the streak and a 1.20 average since postseason play began March 8.
"Cory Schneider has come to another level," said BC head coach Jerry York. "He has been unbelievable during this stretch. Our entire team chemistry has really been great but the play of the goaltender has been incredible."
The Eagles' offense hasn't been bad either, scoring 25 times and averaging just over four goals per game (4.1) in the postseason.
The 4-1 score against St. Lawrence was not indicative of the way the game was played, especially in the first period where St. Lawrence outshot the Eagles 11-7 despite trailing 1-0.
"Any time that you get to the NCAA tournament, you're not going to have a cupcake or a muffin as they say," York said. "So we weren't surprised with how well St. Lawrence played. Their goaltender was tremendous."
Alex Petizian, the Saints' goalie, made 31 stops including a scary moment in the third period when he made a save with his throat on a BC 2-on-1.
"I went from right to left and the puck just sort of hit me in the neck," he said. "I just sort of lost my wind. I got lucky though because I had on a neck guard. If I wasn't wearing one, that would have been a lot worse.
"That being said, BC played really well. I don't think that there was a lot of pressure on me, I just need to make the saves at the right time to keep my team in it."
Up the other end, Schneider watched his fallen counterpart but he needed to keep it out of his mind.
"First of all, that was an incredible save," Schneider said. "I wasn't sure how he even got over there. Then obviously when I first saw it I just thought that he pulled a groin or something.
"After I saw him not get up, I sort of thought he got it in the neck. He got right back up there and got right back in the crease once he got his wind back so that was good to see. I didn't let it affect me, you can't play afraid. Look at after he got up, he went right back into the crease. As a goalie you're always going to get hit — sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn't."
The Eagles' game winner came early in the second period when Ben Smith scored his ninth of the year after a lengthy review.
"I thought I had it covered up," said Petizian. "I thought that there was a late whistle and the ref should have whistled earlier but those are the breaks in the game and you just have to deal with it."
BC became a rarity in this tournament — a higher seed winning its game.
"The seeds don't mean as much as they do in basketball," York said. "Here you only have 16 teams so if you make it here you know that you are playing a pretty good club. Look at the tournament so far, Miami wins as a fourth seed, Alabama-Huntsville takes Notre Dame to two overtimes, and even Air Force today. This was not a big underdog situation for St. Lawrence, they are a very good team."
St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh didn't think his team was an underdog either - he just thought that they lost to a better club.
"You have to give credit where credit is due and BC played a great hockey game tonight," he said. "They are very well coached by Jerry (York). I thought that our guys played well, we worked hard, but you can see why those guys won Hockey East."
YORK IS TECH SAVVY
From the 'coaches are people too' department, Jerry York talked of the unity between Hockey East schools in the tournament and took us into how the coaches keep in contact.
"There has been a lot of texting back and forth," he said with a smile. "Joe Bertagna has done a great job building unity in our conference. I think you see that in other conferences too, but not nearly as close as we are, I think."
EAGLES READY FOR MIAMI
Boston College and Miami have met four times in the past with the series knotted a 2-2-0. Tomorrow's final will mark the second time in two years that the Eagles and RedHawks have met in the tournament. BC knocked off Miami 5-0 in the first round of last year's tournament at the DCU Center in Worcester.