Eagles Ride Rooney to Frozen Four
Senior's Two Goals, Strong Penalty Killing Lead BC
by Mike Machnik/CHN Senior Editor
MANCHESTER, N.H. Boston College has taken pride in saying that it's "a different player every night," but the Eagles certainly have evidence to back up that claim. And it's a big reason they are headed back to the Frozen Four.
Senior forward Joe Rooney scored a pair of goals three minutes apart early in the second period to snap a scoreless tie and send Boston College on to its 12th straight win, 4-0 over Miami in the championship game of the Northeast Regional.
Eagle goaltender Cory Schneider was named as the Most Outstanding Player of the regional after stopping all 37 shots he faced for his 15th career shutout. But if you had to name an MVP for the Eagles on this night, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more deserving candidate than Rooney — on and off the ice.
For Rooney, known more for his defensive play, it was an unexpected repeat of his two-goal showing in the Regional Final exactly a year ago against archrival Boston University. Unlike that game, however, BC was struggling to find a rhythm against the tough RedHawks until Rooney stepped up and gave his squad some room to breathe.
Especially with his second goal, which came with just two seconds remaining on a BC power play. With Miami defenseman Brad Robbins looking for an open lane to clear the puck from behind his own net, Rooney read the play out of the corner and committed highway robbery to stun the RedHawks and make it 2-0 Eagles, 5:44 into the second.
"Their defenseman coughed the puck up in front," said Rooney. "I was cutting across and ended up getting my stick on it, walked across and the goalie was already down, it was easy to kind of wrap it around him.
"What I was really concentrating on was trying to get a stick on him so he didn't ice it. It was kind of slow motion, I saw him slowly coughing the puck up. All he really had to do was take a couple of strides, but he kept trying to reach. I had some speed going so I easily beat him."
After stealing the puck, Rooney still had to seal the deal and slip the puck past Miami goaltender Jeff Zatkoff.
"I just realized I had a lot of room — the goalie went down kind of early. I knew I had some speed and some room to go around him and put it in."
It was Rooney's second highlight-reel goal in less than three minutes and 15th of the year. Exactly three minutes into the period, he converted a perfect feed from Benn Ferriero on a 2-on-1 to break the scoreless tie and give BC the lead for good.
"The first goal was all Benn," said Rooney, but the seeds for the extra jump in the Eagles' step may have been planted by the senior assistant captain in the locker room several minutes earlier. Miami had the better of the play in the first period, outshooting BC, 12-8, and forcing BC to take several penalties in its own end to stay even.
"It was a nice coincidence that it was my turn to talk in between the first and second periods to the team — 'Bring it up'," Rooney said. "And after that talk saying, 'We've got to figure it out.'
"It was kind of nice to be the one to get the goal, and our team took off right after it. It definitely feels nice to get a couple goals and help the team."
"The first period, we didn't play as well as we'd hoped," said Schneider.
"But between periods, Joe brought us up. He just said, 'Boys, we've gotta take this game over, that wasn't our best and we can do a lot better.'
"And sure enough, he went out there and personally did something about it. Benn Ferriero made a great play, and [Rooney] doesn't miss those open nets. And on the power play, he went to the net real hard, and that's what you've got to do to score goals. Once we got that first one, you could see the energy just fill up in our club. I don't think I saw a shot again until the final five minutes (of the period).
"He really kind of put us on his back there in the second and gave us a lot of energy."
Rooney helped anchor a BC penalty kill that held Miami scoreless on seven tries, allowing only six shots on the night with the man advantage. Several times on the night, Miami had an opportunity to take the lead or get back in the game on the power play, but BC's man down unit was flawless.
"We like to pressure teams. If you let teams set up, it's kind of hard to kill penalties," said Rooney.
"You pressure teams, especially Miami, they like to roll around and get a lot of movement, so if you disrupt that, you can make them make their own mistakes and get icings.
"We just try to work hard and pressure them as hard as we could."
The Eagles carried their 2-0 lead into the third, but faced more adversity when defenseman Mike Brennan took a roughing penalty at the buzzer to end the second.
But BC would kill that off and get insurance goals from Kyle Kucharski and Ferriero for the 4-0 final.
"Mikey Brennan was kind of down in the dumps, taking that penalty, and we saw him, he's one of our big guys, so we didn't want to get his head out of whack," said Rooney.
"We just kept telling him, 'We got you, we'll save you, don't worry about it, we'll kill this off and then roll from there.'"
And roll they did. All the way to St. Louis.