by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
ST. LOUIS Jerry York steered just shy of publicly criticizing Boston College forward Benn Ferriero after the Eagles' 6-4 win in the national semifinal Thursday. That's just not his way.
But it was clear that Ferriero made a near-fatal mistake on the goal that tied the game in the third period.
On the play, BC was up 3-2 with a power play late in the third, when Ferriero chased down a puck behind his own net. North Dakota star T.J. Oshie swooped in, stole it, and roofed a backhander over goalie Cory Schneider, temporarily tying the game.
BC went from a potential two-goal lead to a tie game.
York was asked what he said to Ferriero when he returned to the bench, and though York was careful how he responded, it seemed like it was something a little more than just a pat on the back.
"Benn had full possession of the puck," York said. "But more important, he was tired. He was on for a minute, 24 seconds."
That's about as close as York gets to criticism.
"I know he felt bad about it," York said. "But Oshie made an unbelievable play out of it. That was a highlight type. Not only he steals the puck, but puts it top shelf on his backhand. But I told Benn to shake it off and let's get going here, because he has a tendency to get down on himself."
Ferriero and the Eagles did respond, coming right back with a power-play goal from Nathan Gerbe en route to the win.
"I looked up and it said five minutes left, and I promised myself, 'I'm not going to look up again. Two more shifts, maybe three more shifts and hopefully the game's over,'" said BC junior Dan Bertram, who had two goals. "We have funnny games with North Dakota. They're an explosive team. But we were pretty calm, I think that's the most important thing."
It's not a natural rivalry, with two teams so far apart, but this game just added to the epic lore of what's become quite a rivalry indeed. Since Jerry York brought BC's program back into the national scene, and Dean Blais did likewise with North Dakota, the teams have now met six times in nine years in the NCAAs. And they've played some great non-league regular-season games as well.
In fact, Jerry York's history with North Dakota goes back to Frozen Fours in the 1960s, as a player.
"I have a lot of respect for that team, because they're such a good team from top to bottom," BC's Brian Boyle said. "But there was no trash talking going on, I think both teams have a lot of respect for each other. You go into those games and you know they're going to be a lot of fun play in."
It was hard not to think about the 2001 final in Albany, a year after North Dakota defeated BC for the national title in Providence. BC was up two goals, on the verge of an elusive first national title since 1949, when the Sioux scored twice to tie in the closing minutes. The tying goal came after Blais called for an illegal stick check, and got it.
Boston College went ahead to win in overtime.
Cut to last year, and Boston College comes close again, losing when Peter Harrold's shot hit the post with under two seconds remaining, and Wisconsin held on for a 2-1 win.
"Last year we came as close as we can come, and I think that does drive us a little bit," Boyle said. "But I think this is just a new season and we want to make our mark for the '06-'07 team."
It was Boyle that turned down big offers from the L.A. Kings to attempt to win it. He's waited all year to get back to this spot.
"Last year was last year, and I think we found that out the hard way this year," Boyle said. "Once we realized that doesn't guarantee us getting back, that's when we played our best hockey."
Said BC forward Joe Rooney, "Middle of the year we were kind of down and out, and we figured we had to make a run. We have one more game to play and we want to go out on a winning note."
"Being a sophomore, I don't think we took it for granted but we knew we had other time," Bertram said. "This year we're playing with more urgency."