BC Advances to Final
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
ST. LOUIS In a finish befitting two of the most talented teams in the nation, Boston College and North Dakota combined for five goals in the last 4:38.
When the dust settled, Boston College held on for a 6-4 win over the Fighting Sioux, and advanced to the NCAA championship game for the second consecutive season.
"That's the best team we played all year," BC coach Jerry York said. "I like the way they play. They're not trying to avoid losing, they're out there playing hard all the time. We're the same way. When you have two teams with that philosophy, it makes for a terrific game to watch."
Indeed, BC pumped 20 shots on net in the second period, and hit two crossbars, but could only score one goal, leaving the game tied, 2-2. It wasn't until the third that BC took advantage of some mistakes by the Sioux and put them away. But not until the final seconds.
"We survived that (second period)," said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol. "With this team, going into a third period tied 2-2, we've been in that situation many, many times and we found a way to win those games. And I thought we came out and established the game we wanted to play, we grinded it out a little bit. Once we took the back to back penalties, that's what turned things around."
It became a war of attrition in the third, but one slip up cost North Dakota when Ben Smith got behind the defense. Nathan Gerbe found him with a perfect pass, and Smith roofed one over Philippe Lamoureux for a 3-2 lead, the Eagles' first lead of the game, with seven minutes remaining.
"It was not as high-tempo a third as we would've wanted," said North Dakota sophomore forward T.J. Oshie, who may play his next game in the same building — for the NHL's St. Louis Blues — if he wants to. The Blues own his NHL rights. "Our momentum was up and down. We thrive off building that, and we didn't do enough of that tonight."
It looked like BC would put the game away when Chris Porter took a bad offensive-zone charging penalty just a couple of minutes later. But instead, it was North Dakota that tied the game with a shorthanded goal from Oshie, who stole the puck from Benn Ferriero, stepped in front, and lifted a backhander under the crossbar, wowing a crowd he may play for next season.
But North Dakota defenseman Robbie Bina made the mistake of taking an elbowing penalty just 25 seconds after that Oshie goal. And just six seconds into the penalty, right off the draw, Nathan Gerbe was alone in the slot and scored his 24th goal of the season to give BC the lead for good.
"I think it's just read and reacting," York said. "They moved the puck very well, going down the block and moving it back to Nathan. It was just a well executed play. There was a lot of it through the course of the game for both teams. You can talk ab out the winning coach feeling a lot better, but it was a good game to watch."
The North Dakota penalty kill allowed three goals on the night.
"We knew what to expect, our coaches had us prepared," Porter said. "They executed what they wanted to do real well. The penalty kill was the difference in the game."
Hakstol said, "The problem for the penalty kill was fatigue. Twice tonight we had two minor penalties in a row. Penalty killing is hard work. You need energy, speed and quickness. When you lack energy it's advantage offense. Boston College spread out well, got pucks to the net well."
Although it was a lead BC didn't relinquish, the rest of the game was by no means easy.
Brett Motherwell was called for a penalty with 2:41 remaining, and about a minute later, North Dakota pulled the goaltender to create a 6-on-4. But Brian Boyle got possession, and the BC defenseman sent one down ice. It was just wide of the goal, but no icing because of the penalty kill; and Joe Rooney chased down the loose puck and put it in.
"I go to their blue line and I figured a couple of guys would be on me," Rooney said. "I looked back and there really weren't any guys in sight."
"I was just hoping and praying it did not hit anyone on the way out," Boyle said. "I never saw Rooney skate that fast, and he skates fast."
It still wasn't over because BC took another penalty in the last minute, and North Dakota got a power-play goal with 16 seconds remaining. But BC added another empty netter with six seconds left.
"We were never out of the game. We fought to the end," Porter said. "When we scored with 16 seconds left we thought there was still time. We were still hoping to score."
Said Hakstol, "You don't fight as hard as we fought all year long, and then because there's a one or two-goal lead or a tough situation you back off. That just doesn't happen. Not with this team. This team fights to the bitter end. We didn't do the things we needed to do in the third period, but there's no quit in this team."